Chemicals Listed Effective February 3, 2006 as Known to the State of California to Cause Cancer: "areca nut" and "betel quid without tobacco"

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The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) of the California Environmental Protection Agency is adding “areca nut” and “betel quid without tobacco” to the list of chemicals known to the state to cause cancer for purposes of the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Health and Safety Code section 25249.5, Proposition 65). A betel quid (synonymous with ‘pan’ or ‘paan’) generally contains betel leaf, areca nut and slaked lime, and may contain tobacco. Areca nut is the seed of the fruit of the oriental palm Areca catechu. It should be noted that it is the nut and not other elements of the areca nut plant (such as the husk) that is being listed under Proposition 65. The listing of “areca nut” and “betel quid without tobacco” is effective February 3, 2006.

Health and Safety Code section 25249.8(a) requires that certain substances identified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) or the National Toxicology Program (NTP), as described in Labor Code sections 6382(b)(1) and (d), be included on the Proposition 65 list. Labor Code section 6382(b)(1) references substances identified as human or animal carcinogens by IARC, and Labor Code section 6382(d) references substances identified as carcinogens or potential carcinogens by IARC or NTP. “Areca nut” and “betel quid without tobacco” were identified by IARC as known to be human carcinogens.

The basis for the listing of “areca nut” and “betel quid without tobacco” on the Proposition 65 list was described in OEHHA’s Request for Comments on Proposed Listing of “Areca Nut” and “Betel Quid Without Tobacco” As Known to Cause Cancer published in the October 21, 2005, issue of the California Regulatory Notice Register (Register 2005, No. 42-Z). In 2004, IARC issued the monograph Betel-quid and Areca-nut Chewing and Some Areca-nut-derived Nitrosamines (Volume 85) in its series IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans. In this monograph, IARC concluded “Areca nut is carcinogenic to humans (Group 1).” In the same monograph, IARC concluded “Betel quid without tobacco is carcinogenic to humans (Group 1).” Betel quid with tobacco was previously classified by IARC as “carcinogenic to humans (Group 1)” and was listed under Proposition 65 on January 1, 1990; IARC reiterated that identification in the 2004 monograph.

OEHHA analyses of dose-response data to establish the no significant risk levels (NSRLs) for these substances under Proposition 65 have not been conducted. The priority status of the development of such analyses will be announced in a future OEHHA Proposition 65 Status Report for Safe Harbor Levels.

A complete, updated Proposition 65 list is published elsewhere in this issue of the California Regulatory Notice Register.

Chemical CAS No. Toxicological Endpoint Listing Mechanism1
Areca Nut -- Cancer LC
Betel quid without tobacco -- Cancer LC

1 Listing mechanism:
LC – “Labor Code” mechanism (Labor Code sections 6382(b)(1) and (d))