While preparing for a recent prenatal yoga class I realized that although I have quite a few extra mats lying around to offer to students who needed them, I only have two yoga blocks. I was expecting six students in a class including both expectant moms and dads and thought it would be wise to have blocks available to all students. The class was two weeks away when I made this realization and decided that I was not going have enough time to order blocks online from a wholesaler and be sure that they arrived before the class.
So, being the fantastic procrastinator that I am, a few days before the class while cruising Walmart with the family I ran off to check the workout aisle for yoga blocks. I was in luck! I spotted the Danskin Now Yoga Block and Strap Kit, $10.77. It included 2 blocks and 1 strap (which I didn’t really need but who can’t use an extra strap?). I grabbed two packages and headed to the electronics section to locate my husband and show off my sweet find.
The blocks arrived home in their plastic Walmart bag and were placed in a corner in the living room where they remained until approximately 10 minutes before I was heading out the door to teach the aforementioned class (procrastinator, remember?). I placed my 2 old blocks into my duffle bag, retrieved a package of new blocks from their corner, tore the package open, tossed the strap aside and as I was putting the blocks in the duffle two little pieces of paper floated out from between the blocks. One paper was the manufacture’s limited warranty – junk, tossed it aside – the other said “Warning”. So I took a second to read it (even though the warnings are usually something along the lines of, “this yoga block is not intended for building houses and we are not responsible if you build your house with it and the house falls down”). Imagine my surprise to find that the first of two warnings said:
“This product contains a chemical that is known to the state of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm.”
WHAT?! I won’t bore you with the list of profanities I spewed after reading that right before I needed to head out the door. My first though was, “How the heck can they sell this if it causes cancer and just stick a piece of paper in there?” Then I read it again, “…known to the state of California…” why is California the only state that knows? I looked at it one more time, “…birth defects and other reproductive harm.” Yeah, I won’t be using these for my PRENATAL class tonight!
As I tossed the blocks and all the paper work back in the bag, with plans to return them to the store – thanks but, no thanks on the cancer blocks – I decided that I needed to research this a little bit more and that this might be a great thing to share on the site. If I had seen that warning sooner, I would not have bought the blocks in the first place maybe others would like to know before they buy.
Here’s what I found:
A Google search of the product name revealed little more then the fact that the blocks come in colors other then the green ones that I had purchased. Reviews on websites that sold the products were good, 4 and 5 stars. I started to wonder if I was crazy, does no one else care that these are “cancer blocks”?
But, with a little more digging I found a couple of posts on public forums about this warning. The general opinion of responders seemed to be that California is warning-crazy and that unless you were planning to eat the blocks there really is no danger. I was not really convinced, what do these people know, they are not experts, they are just regular people. So the search went on.
Then I came upon a similar warning on a website selling Natural Bamboo Yoga Blocks. It read:
California Prop 65 Required Warning Statement For Products Made Of Wood: Drilling, sawing, sanding, or machining wood products generates wood dust, a substance known to the State of California to cause cancer. Avoid inhaling wood dust or use a dust mask or other safeguards for personal protection. (Required as of Dec. 18th, 2010.)
Okay, that warning seems a little extreme considering that I would be the purchaser of the block and not the creator of the block. However, California Prop. 65, that was what I had been searching for.
What is California Prop 65? It is California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986. Apparently the Act was created to protect the water and the citizens of California from and inform them of exposure to chemicals that are known to cause cancer and birth defects or reproductive harm. Under this act, the Governor of California is required to publish a list of chemicals that are known to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity at least once per year. For more information on Prop 65, click here.
Although I find the warning about wood dust a little excessive, I’m not convinced that these blocks are safe. Perhaps if I had a list of the chemicals used in the creation of this block, or at least the chemical(s) in question, I could do the research and draw my own conclusion. In the meantime, I’m gonna go ahead and take California’s word for it and return these blocks to Walmart.
Now the hunt begins for yoga blocks free of carcinogenic chemicals!