Scientist Warns Industry Not to Ignore Potential Health Threat to Pharmacy Workers

Tuesday, November 11, 2008 General News
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DREXEL, Mo., Nov. 10 AlburtyLab's President, David Alburtyissued a statement today regarding serious concerns about efforts byMcKesson/Parata to misrepresent and diminish the potential health threats thatpharmacy workers face when they work in pharmacies using air pressure drivendispensing machines.

Statement by David Alburty:

Communications recently issued by McKesson/Parata regarding potentialexposure of pharmacy workers to airborne pill dust when they use air pressuredriven drug dispensing machines attempt to mask a potentially serious healthmatter affecting pharmacy workers.

McKesson/Parata claims that unreleased tests they performed, not conductedby Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) but "under OSHAstandards (set by *1 NIOSH)," are relevant to this issue. They are not.

It is critical to know that OSHA air quality regulations are limited togeneral guidelines for "nuisance dust" such as emissions from grinding andburning processes. There are no OSHA standards establishing safe quantities ofpharmaceutical compounds in the air. Nor are there OSHA standards for PM-2.5particles and nanoparticles. These very small particles, which are used totransport pharmaceutical agents, have been shown to be generated when pillsare subjected to air pressure dispensing.

PM-2.5 particles are the subject of EPA air quality standards and WorldHealth Organization guidelines because they penetrate the lungs deeply andrapidly enter the bloodstream. As documented in our (AlburtyLab, October 2008)study, these particles are believed to cause a number of serious healthproblems. The fact that OSHA standards do not yet address this issue does notmean that it should be ignored.

Our study unveiled potentially serious exposures for pharmacy workers, andour strong recommendation is that the issue needs to be studied by federalregulatory agencies. As reported by the publication Inside OSHA on October 27,2008, "A NIOSH official says that he believes pharmacists are being exposed toharmful particles." He further stated, "The agency advises against usingtechnology that produces any type of particulate that could be inhaled."

The official described our study as "fairly straightforward" and said thatthere is concern that drugs involved were "not meant to be inhaled."

Clearly, federal regulatory agencies must assess risk and set guidelinesfor these types of machines and establish procedures to monitor the healthimpact on pharmacy workers when they are used.

The previous press release, the executive summary and the full study areavailable for review.

About AlburtyLab, Inc.

AlburtyLab is an independent laboratory located in Drexel, Missouri thatserves the aerosol research, development, and instrumentation communities.AlburtyLab has conducted independent studies for a range of agencies andcompanies, including Boeing/US Navy, Boston Scientific, Northrop Grumman, USPostal Service, US Department of Homeland Security, and the US Army ResearchLaboratory.

Technical questions may be directed to Mr. Alburty at (816) 619-3374 orvia email to

This study was funded by one of the technologies reviewed in theevaluation, ScriptPro LLC of Mission, Kansas.

The Executive Summary and the final report can be found

*1 NIOSH (National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health) thatcreated testing specifications required by OSHA.

Contact: Josh Fenton, The Fenton Group

Tel. 401-490-4888/401-497-0186


SOURCE AlburtyLab, Inc.

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