So, the guitar you bought finally came to your place. You open the box and see this bizarre warning that goes something like this: This product contains chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects and/or other reproductive harm.
What the hell is going on? – you may asked yourself. Can electric guitars cause cancer?
No, electric guitars do not cause cancer. Warnings like this are on every product in California. It’s Proposition 65 law that requires businesses to provide these warnings to Californians.
However, if you’re not living in California, there’s still a chance you got this warning with your new guitar. That’s because it’s difficult to determine in advance which products companies sell will reach residents of California.
Due to ongoing cross-border e-commerce sales, some companies give these warnings to every product sold, even when not sold to California or the United States of America.
What’s The Thing With Proposition 65?
OK, so Proposition 65 requires those warnings. But what it is exactly? Let’s see what California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment says about this:
Proposition 65 requires businesses to provide warnings to Californians about significant exposures to chemicals that cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm. These chemicals can be in the products that Californians purchase, in their homes or workplaces, or that are released into the environment. By requiring that this information be provided, Proposition 65 enables Californians to make informed decisions about their exposures to these chemicals.Source: https://oehha.ca.gov/proposition-65/about-proposition-65
Proposition 65 has the list of chemicals that can potentially cause cancer, birth defects and/or reproductive harm. You can check the list on the same page, here.
What Harmful Chemicals Do Electric Guitars Contain?
Do electric guitars contain some potentially risky chemicals? They contain chemicals, of course, but there’s no any potential risk whatsoever.
What are those chemicals? I suppose there are a few ones. First that come to my mind is a paint on a guitar body. Do you know that nice smell you notice coming from the fresh paint?
It’s called volatile organic compound, or VOC. Those are chemicals that are released in the surrounding air when something is in the process of painting.
Of course, this volatile organic compound is not releasing in the air when something is done painting, soon after. That would make no sense. There’s no any smell whatsoever coming from any painted thing!
Unfortunately, Proposition 65 requires companies to release warnings, even when the product itself does not contain any harmful chemical. That’s because some of the chemicals were used in the manufacturing process.
Then there’s a chrome plating process in which some of the potentially risky chemicals are used.
I don’t know if there’s any product in which manufacturing process they don’t use any chemicals.
Yes, it does not have much sense, but that’s the law!
Should You Be Concerned About A Proposition 65 Warning Notice?
When it comes to electric guitars, then no, you shouldn’t be concerned. Proposition 65 can be really helpful when you’re buying food products, for example.
But guitars? Of course chemicals used in the manufacturing process do not impose any danger whatsoever.
The threshold exposure limits that the State of California has set for many chemicals on the two Proposition 65 lists are far below the “safe”. Other regulatory agencies, such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, various European health agencies, and the World Health Organization.
The bottom line is this: Proposition 65 is written by State, not by scientists!
What About Prostate Cancer?
You may have stumbled across this scientific study that elaborates the idea of electric guitars causing a prostate cancer. It sounds silly!
You can find this scientific study, Prostate cancer in electric guitar player, on Research Gate.
The study was conducted by two Iranian scientists in 2007. What does this study say?
It’s the idea that electromagnetic field, produced by electric guitar, pose a risk of prostate cancer for electric guitar players. Electromagnetic field has its carcinogenetic effects on our body. Especially when we place the guitar near the pelvic region.
During playing, the guitar is held in proximity of the pelvic region of the guitarists, and it is possible that the prostate gland could be affected by the potential carcino-genetic effects of both EMF and loud noise. Hence, one may hypothesize that induction or progression of prostate cancer may occur in electric guitar players by these mechanisms.This hypothesis proposes electric guitar playing as a potential occupational risk factor for the prostate cancer
Lot of claims, zero evidence.
If there was a potential risk of prostate cancer, wouldn’t we have a lot more people with prostate cancer today?
Anyway, don’t be afraid to play your electric guitar!
Can electric guitars cause cancer? No, they can’t. Almost every product in its manufacturing process uses some potentially harmful chemicals, but that does not mean the product itself is harmful to our health.
Proposition 65 law makes sense when we decide what food, or some other, products we plan to buy. But it does not have much sense to add those warning sings to other products, like electric guitars.
Companies that make electric guitars are required to put these warning signs, but you shouldn’t be concerned about it.
There’s no any danger whatsoever an electric guitar can impose to your health. If that were the case, then there would be a lot of guitar players out there with cancer.
So, yes, electric guitars are perfectly safe.
If you’re interested, check out (on this site) whether guitars can change your fingerprints, or make your fingers longer.
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Cheers, and rock on!