You have no doubt noticed a warning on our products stating that they are "known to the State of California to cause cancer." This warning is added to our products as a result of guidelines required by California's Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Proposition 65).
Nickel (one of several hundred substances on the Prop 65 list of offending chemicals) is used in the plating process of our parts and is present in 12% concentration of stainless steel parts we use.
Prop 65 was intended to notify customers of potential dangers so that they could make informed purchases. At Hipshot, we fully support this mission. However, we feel that it is a poorly written law that fails to inform customers of the level of danger they face when purchasing a product and opens up manufacturers to frivolous law suits.
In the instance of nickel, the CDC says the risk of cancer was determined by a case study where lung and sinus cancer was found in a population of refinery workers who inhaled large amounts of nickel everyday. It goes on to say that touching nickel can cause allergic irritation in about 10-20% of the population. The CDC does not mention a link between physical contact and cancer. Even so, we are required to place labeling on our parts because Prop 65 doesn't make a distinction between types of exposure or application of chemical.
Here are some other products that contain more nickel than the volume allowed by Prop 65.
- The US 5 Cent Piece (25% Nickel)
- Non magnetic stainless steel (found in everything from silverware to doorknobs)
- Most guitar strings
- Most fret wire
- Most plated parts including jewelry
The bottom line: We believe that our hardware is very safe provided you don't inhale it in large quantities. If you have a nickel allergy, we recommend that you use our chrome or black finish. On these finishes, the nickel is buried under another layer of finish so contact won't occur unless you rub through to the nickel.