J&J’S Controversial Asbestos Prison Testing Resurfaces in Baby Powder Lawsuit

Bloomberg by Jeff Feely New Brunswick, NJ

More than 50 years ago, nearly a dozen men incarcerated outside of Philadelphia enrolled in an experiment funded by Johnson & Johnson, according to unsealed documents. Now, those studies have come back to haunt the world’s largest maker of health-care products. In one study, inmates were paid to be injected with potentially cancer-causing asbestos so the company could compare its effect on their skin versus that of talc, a key component in its iconic baby powder. 

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EPA Adopts New Astm Standard for Phase I Environmental Site Assessments

JD Supra Washington, DC

Environmental Protection Agency, on March 14, 2022, issued both a final rule incorporating revised ASTM International standard practices, ASTM International’s E1527–21 ‘‘Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process,’’ and a proposed rule soliciting comment on this action. The final rule incorporates the new ASTM standard as one of three different standards upon which prospective purchasers of real property may rely to satisfy CERCLA’s All Appropriate Inquiries (AAI) Rule. Despite EPA’s request for comment on the rule, the agency indicated that it does not anticipate adverse pushback. The rule is expected to go into effect on May 13, 2022, unless EPA receives significant negative comments. 

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EPA Proposes Regulations to Plan for Hazardous Substance Discharge in Adverse Weather Conditions

EPA Washington, DC  

EPA proposed new requirements for certain facilities to plan for worst-case discharges of Clean Water Act (CWA) hazardous substances. A worst-case discharge is the largest foreseeable discharge in adverse weather conditions, including those due to climate change. Facilities subject to the proposed rule are required to prepare response plans for worst-case discharges, or threat of such discharges, and submit them to EPA. The response plan requirements are an important tool for communities and first responders to ensure preparedness in the event of a worst-case discharge of hazardous substances. The proposed rule discusses the various components that comprise response plans, including hazard evaluation, personnel roles and responsibilities, response actions, and drills and exercises. 

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EPA Takes Action to Continue Addressing Pfas in Commerce

EPA National

EPA is announcing two important actions to safeguard communities from products containing Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS). First, as part of EPA’s effort to identify, understand and address PFAS contamination leaching from fluorinated containers, the agency is notifying companies of their obligation to comply with existing requirements under the Toxics Substances Control Act (TSCA) to ensure unintentional PFAS contamination does not occur. The agency will also remove two PFAS from its Safer Chemical Ingredients List (SCIL) following a review of these substances. 

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By March 2023 All Cleveland Rentals Built Before 1978 Must Be Certified As Lead-Safe

WKYC Cleveland, OH

Cleveland has just a year left to roll out its new lead-safe requirements. The city is enforcing the lead rules a few ZIP codes at a time. By March 2023, all rentals built before 1978 – the year Congress banned lead paint – must be certified with the city as lead-safe. After a slow start, Cleveland saw a surge in lead-safe applications in the final months of 2021, according to data compiled by the Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development at Case Western Reserve University, which audits the lead program. 

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Half of Americans Live With the Legacy of Childhood Lead Poisoning

Health Day by Denise Mann

National –  If you were born before 1996, there’s a good chance you were exposed to high levels of lead as a kid, and new research suggests this may have harmed your IQ and boosted your chances of lead-related health concerns down the road. Fully 170 million, or more than half of all Americans who were alive in 2015, had early-life lead levels above 5 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood (?g/dL), the previous cut-off for concern, Reuben’s team found. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently changed this cut-off to 3.5 µg/dL, suggesting that even more people may be at risk for health issues due to childhood lead poisoning. 

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MyChesCo Harrisburg, PA

The Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) recently released two new lead poisoning reports for the state of Pennsylvania: the Birth Cohort Report and the Childhood Lead Surveillance Report. The findings include data and statistics from 2017 to 2020. One in three Pennsylvania children with Medicaid health insurance are not getting tested for lead poisoning before their second birthday, despite the required Medicaid testing. One report shows that the rate of Pennsylvania children with elevated blood lead levels has remained essentially the same for the last two years at a rate of 4.65. This is a rate two times higher than children poisoned in Flint, Michigan, at the peak of the city’s crisis. 

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EPA Settles With Tesla Over Clean Air Act Violations at Fremont, CA Facility

EPA San Francisco, CA

EPA announced a settlement with Tesla Motors Inc. EPA found Clean Air Act violations at their automobile manufacturing plant in Fremont, Calif. This settlement aligns with EPA’s National Compliance Initiative, Creating Cleaner Air for Communities by Reducing Excess Emissions of Harmful Pollutants.  Under the settlement, Tesla agreed to pay a $275,000 penalty.

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Interaction With Lung Cells Transforms Asbestos Particles

University of Pennsylvania – Penn Today Philadelphia, PA

Biomedical researchers have spent many years trying to understand how asbestos causes disease, though multiple pieces of the puzzle remain unknown. Taking a completely different approach, an international team led by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, looked instead at how the interactions change the mineral itself. The research grew out of a larger set of experiments on asbestos undertaken through Penn’s Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology. Though a common term, the word “asbestos” is not a scientific one, but rather is used in industry to refer to a wide range of minerals with varying structures and chemical compositions. 

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EPA Extends Comment Period for Draft Scope of Asbestos Part 2 Risk Evaluation to Be Conducted Under TSCA

EPA Washington, DC

Following EPA’s June 2016 designation of asbestos as one of the first ten chemicals to undergo risk evaluation under TSCA, as amended by Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, EPA initially focused the risk evaluation for asbestos on chrysotile asbestos as this is the only asbestos fiber type that is currently imported, processed, or distributed in the U.S. However, as a result of the November 2019 decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Safer Chemicals Healthy Families v. EPA, EPA plans to evaluate legacy uses and associated disposals, other types of asbestos fibers in addition to chrysotile, and conditions of use of asbestos in talc and talc-containing products in a supplemental effort that is the focus of part 2 of the risk evaluation for asbestos. 

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To access the Draft Risk Evaluation, click here.