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Q: Why does the documentation for my M-Audio device contain a warning stating that this product "contains lead" and that I should "wash hands after use"?
A: In recent years, it has become common to see lead-warning messages like this on all types of consumer electronics devices sold in the US, even those specifically designed for hand-held use (such as laptop computers, cell phones, and computer mice). The recent appearance of these warning messages should not be seen as an indication that electronics devices contain more lead than they used to; in fact many devices contain far less lead now than they did in recent years. The appearance of these warning messages is in response to legislation and recent legal developments, and does not indicate a change in manufacturing processes.
In accordance with California's Proposition 65, manufacturers are required to post this warning when a product may expose a user to any amount of lead or other hazardous substances, even in minute amounts, because such substances have been linked to cancer or birth defects. Even in situations where an electronics device is completely free of lead, there is always a chance that standard third-party-manufactured accessories packaged with the device (such as a power cable, USB cable, or power supply) may contain trace amounts of lead. Out of professional diligence and a commitment to fully comply with the law, M-Audio properly marks all applicable products with a Prop 65 lead warning.
In mid-2006, M-Audio began manufacturing devices that are fully compliant with the Restriction on Hazardous Substances directive (RoHS) adopted by the European Union. A device that is RoHS compliant contains less than 0.1% lead by weight of homogeneous material. However, given that Proposition 65 provides for even lower acceptable percentages for lead, some M-Audio products that are RoHS compliant may continue to carry a Prop 65 lead warning in certain territories.
More information on California's Proposition 65
More information on the RoHS directive