Pfizer’s Newest Vaccine Plant Has Persistent Mold Issues and a History of Recalls

Tampa Bay Times by Sarah Jane Tribble

McPherson, KS – Pfizer’s management knew last year there was “a mold issue” at the Kansas facility now slated to produce the drugmaker’s urgently needed COVID-19 vaccine, according to a Food and Drug Administration inspection report. The McPherson, Kansas, facility, which FDA inspectors wrote is the nation’s largest manufacturer of sterile injectable controlled substances, has a long, troubled history. Nearly a decade’s worth of FDA inspection reports, recalls and reprimands reviewed by KHN show the facility as a repeat offender. FDA investigators have repeatedly noted in reports that the plant has failed to control quality and contamination or fully investigate after production failures. 

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EPA Evaluation Finds Asbestos Still a Risk  by Tim Povtak

National – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released Part 1 of its Final Risk Evaluation for Asbestos, reaffirming preliminary findings from March that were roundly criticized for underestimating the dangers of exposure to this toxic mineral. Six ongoing use categories of asbestos were evaluated by the EPA, which found 16 conditions of use that presented unreasonable risk to human health through either occupational exposures or consumer uses. The Part 2 preliminary evaluation, which will become public in mid-2021, will include five other types of asbestos, along with legacy asbestos and associated disposals of chrysotile asbestos. Click here for the full text.

ADAO Condemns EPA for Its Incomplete and Weak Risk Evaluation for Asbestos, Citing It Ignores Public Health Experts and Its Own Science Advisors

Business Wire

National – The Asbestos Disease Awareness co-founder Linda Reinstein issued a statement “EPA’s final risk evaluation ignores the numerous recommendations of its own scientific advisors and other independent experts by claiming that these deficiencies will be addressed in a future Part 2 evaluation. Based on this sleight-of-hand maneuver, the Agency has issued a piecemeal and dangerously incomplete evaluation that overlooks numerous sources of asbestos exposure and risk, and understates the enormous toll of disease and death for which asbestos is responsible.” Click here for the full text.

EPA Publishes First Installment of Controversial Risk Evaluation for Asbestos

Safety and Health Magazine

National – Critics of the Environmental Protection Agency are renewing their call for a complete ban on asbestos after the agency’s release of Part 1 of a final risk evaluation that concludes that the substance – a known human carcinogen – presents an unreasonable health risk to workers under certain conditions. Used in chlor-alkali production, consumer products, coatings and compounds, plastics, roofing products, and other applications, asbestos is among the first 10 chemicals under evaluation for potential health and environmental risks under the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act. Released Dec. 30 and announced via a notice published in the Jan. 4 Federal Register, Part 1 of the final evaluation centers on chrysotile asbestos and states the substance poses unreasonable risk to workers involved in numerous operations. Click here for the full text.

ADAO, EIA and Partners Initiate New Legal Actions Against EPA’s Flawed Final Risk Evaluation for Asbestos


National – Five public health groups and six leading asbestos scientists asked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to review the asbestos risk evaluation issued last month by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). These partners also sent EPA a 60-day letter notifying the agency of their intent to file suit under TSCA in a federal district court to assure that the agency meets its obligation to evaluate the risks of “legacy” asbestos found in millions of buildings across the United States.  Click here for the full text.

EPA to Launch a Broader Review of Asbestos Risk This Summer


National – The EPA this summer will launch a court-ordered review of risks arising from old uses of asbestos that still may lead people to inhale the cancer-causing mineral, an agency official said Wednesday. This second, or supplemental, asbestos risk evaluation differs from the one that the Environmental Protection Agency published last month. It will examine all six recognized forms of asbestos instead of just the chrysotile fibers. And it will look at discontinued uses of the mineral, such as asbestos insulation and flooring, that pose exposure risks to janitors, building maintenance personnel, and others. Brent Kynoch, managing director of the Environmental Information Association stated “The only effective risk management option is a ban.” Email for the full article text.

ASTM Developing Nonregulatory Standard for Face Masks

EHS Daily Advisor by Guy Burdick

National – ASTM International, a standards-setting organization formerly known as The American Society for Testing and Materials, is developing a new specification for face coverings. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended cloth face coverings for the general public to reduce the number of COVID-19 cases, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has recommended them in its workplace health guidelines during the pandemic, and four states now require them in emergency temporary standards for COVID-19. The ASTM standard, which would create minimum design, performance, and labeling and care requirements for face coverings, is being developed by the subcommittee on respiratory protection at ASTM. Click here for the full text.

The Center for Construction Research and Training Issued Quick Tips to Increase Ventilation at Indoor Construction Sites Without Operating HVAC Systems


National – COVID-19 is airborne and spreads faster and further in enclosed areas than outdoors. As temperatures drop, construction work is moving inside, work areas are being enclosed, and temporary warm-up stations are being set up. Since ventilation guidance issued by OSHA,1 the CDC, 2 and other organizations largely focuses on workplaces with working HVAC systems, below are some suggestions on how to improve ventilation on construction sites. To access the full document, click here.

The US May Soon Have Its First Standard for Consumer Face Masks

CNN by Keri Enriquez

National – The coronavirus pandemic triggered a sudden intense need for masks that had Americans making masks at home out of T-shirts and bandanas. Hundreds of new and untested products flooded the marketplace with almost no oversight or regulation, making consumer masks the Wild West of personal protection equipment. That is set to change. ASTM International, an international technical standards organization, and the National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory, are working on standards to “establish minimum design, performance (testing), labeling, user instruction, reporting and classification, and conformity assessment requirements for barrier face coverings.”  Click here for the full text.