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EPA Meeting in Horsham is All About Perfluorinated Chemical Contamination of Local Water Supplies

EPA Meeting in Horsham is All About Perfluorinated Chemical Contamination of Local Water Supplies | Public Health | Scoop.it

High-ranking officials will be among the contingent sent by the Environmental Protection Agency to its Community Engagement session in Horsham on Wednesday. The all-day meeting, originally announced in early summer, will focus on perfluorinated chemicals that have contaminated the aquifer beneath Horsham, Warminster, Warrington and parts of surrounding communities.

 

According to a full agenda released last week, those attending will include Peter Grevatt, the agency’s top official for ground and drinking water issues, as well as Andy Gillespie, an associate director of the agency’s Office of Research and Development.

 

Also attending will be the Department of Defense’s Maureen Sullivan, who serves as deputy assistant secretary for environment, safety and occupational health, in addition to officials with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

 

Perfluorinated chemicals are currently unregulated, and have been popping up in water supplies across the country. Local contamination was discovered in 2014, and eventually was found to affect the drinking water of at least 70,000 current residents along the Bucks and Montgomery County border, as well as uncounted former residents and military veterans. The chemicals are suspected to have come from firefighting foams used at area military bases.

 

The day will begin at 10 a.m. with introductory remarks, followed by Grevatt giving an update on the agency’s actions on the chemicals. Gillespie will then present EPA research on the chemicals, followed by the DOD and CDC officials sharing “their experiences and challenges with PFAS.”

 

Following a lunch break, representatives of the Pennsylvania agencies will be joined by their counterparts from neighboring states to discuss issues each state faces. There also will be local panels, with a 1 p.m. session bringing together 10 municipal and water authority executives to discuss their experiences. At 2 p.m., local residents Hope Grosse and Joanne Stanton, along with Philadelphia environmental attorney Mark Cuker, will deliver a “community presentation.”

 

After an afternoon break, an open public comment period will run from 3:45 to 9 p.m.

 

Further Reading:

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johnmacknewtown's curator insight, July 24, 6:42 AM

I will attend and report what I learned at an upcoming Board of Supervisors meeting (hopefully, the Aug 8, 2018, session).  A representative of the Newtown Artesian Water Company hopefully will also be there to present a report on the quality of Newtown water and to answer questions from residents.

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These curated news items about public health issues such as opioid addiction, water and air quality, emergency services, etc., were selected by John Mack. Any opinions and "insights" appended to these article summaries are solely those of John Mack and do not represent the opinions of any other person or entity.
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Medical Marijuana Dispensary Applies to Open in Newtown Borough on South State Street

Medical Marijuana Dispensary Applies to Open in Newtown Borough on South State Street | Public Health | Scoop.it

Four new applications for medical marijuana dispensaries in Bucks County are pending in front of the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

 

Restore Integrative Wellness Center and Chroniceuticals, LLC are seeking to open dispensaries in Doylestown. The company 31 State Street LLC has submitted an application to open a dispensary in Newtown, and Mother's Comfort LLC is seeking to open one in Bristol.

 

The applications do not state the proposed street locations for the dispensaries, except for in Newtown. (As the company's name suggests, it is targeted for S. State Street.)

 

In Bucks County, dispensaries are currently operating in Bristol and Sellersville.

 

According to the most recent data from the state, more than 52,000 patients in Pennsylvania have registered to participate in the medical marijuana program. Of those, more than 30,000 have received their identification cards and are able to visit a dispensary to purchase medical marijuana, information from the state said.

 

More than 1,000 physicians have registered for the program and, of those, more than 700 have been approved as practitioners.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Newtown Borough Council Proposes Addition of Medical Marijuana Dispensary Use to Zoning Ordinance - a decision will be made tonight (Aug 14, 2018) - see here.

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Report: Up to 110 Million Americans Could Have PFAS-Contaminated Drinking Water

Report: Up to 110 Million Americans Could Have PFAS-Contaminated Drinking Water | Public Health | Scoop.it

More than 1,500 drinking water systems across the country may be contaminated with the nonstick chemicals PFOA and PFOS, and similar fluorine-based chemicals, a new EWG [Environmental Working Group - a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment] analysis shows.

 

Eurofins Eaton Analytical, which analyzed a third of the nationwide water samples, found that 28 percent of the water utilities it tested contained PFAS chemicals at concentrations at or above 5 ppt. The percentage of samples with PFAS detections nearly doubled when the laboratory analyzed down to 2.5 ppt. Based on this data, EWG’s analysis suggests that up to 110 million Americans could have PFAS in their water.

 

Independent scientific assessments find that the safe level of exposure to PFAS chemicals is about 1 ppt – significantly below the reporting level set by the EPA.

 

… InsideEPA and Politico broke news that the White House and the EPA attempted to bury a proposal from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry that suggested exposure to Teflon and Scotchgard chemicals may be harmful at levels 10 times lower than what the EPA has publicly called safe. The full ATSDR proposal has not been made public, but the available information indicates the lower level was proposed because ATSDR accounted for harm to the immune system. This mirrors the more health protective approach New Jersey took in drafting its drinking water limits of 13 ppt for PFOS and 14 ppt for PFOA.

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Aqua Pennsylvania Water Company Shuts Down Upper Dublin Well After Complaints Made at EPA Meeting in Horsham

According to Aqua, that well was taken offline July 27, two days after Upper Dublin manager Paul Leonard and several township residents raised concerns about the wells during a meeting held by the EPA in Horsham (see video here). Crockett said the well was taken offline because it was the well in their system with the highest levels of the chemicals.

 

The dispute is over the presence of perfluorinated chemicals, also known as PFAS, in the water wells. The chemicals are most known due to their prior contamination of drinking water supplies in Horsham, Warminster and Warrington. Those towns have instituted plans to remove the chemicals to below detectable levels.

 

In particular, the issue hinges on the issue of how much of the chemicals can be safely consumed. The Environmental Protection Agency has set a 70 parts per trillion (ppt) safety advisory level for PFOS and PFOA, the two most well-known PFAS chemicals. That number is being used by many water suppliers as a de facto limit for the chemicals in absence of a formal regulation.

 

However, other regulatory agencies argue the 70 ppt level is too high. In New Jersey, regulators proposed limits of 14 ppt for PFOA and 13 ppt for PFOS, which when combined are less than one third of the EPA’s limit. The chemicals have been linked to health conditions including low birth weight babies, immunodeficiencies, high cholesterol, and some cancers.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Also see "Local Officials Speak Out on PFAS/PFOA Contamination of Water" (video).

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Newtown Borough Council Plans to Hold a Hearing on Proposed Addition of Medical Marijuana Dispensary to Zoning Ordinance

Newtown Borough Council Plans to Hold a Hearing on Proposed Addition of Medical Marijuana Dispensary to Zoning Ordinance | Public Health | Scoop.it

Newtown Borough recently published a notice of a public hearing on August 14, 2018, the purpose of which is the “receive comment and public testimony regarding the proposed amendments to the Newtown Borough Zoning Ordinance adding the Medical Marijuana Grower/Processor, Medical Marijuana Dispensary uses.”

 

See some provisions and access the entire proposed amendment here.

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"Benzos" Could Be Next U.S. Drug Epidemic and Increase Deaths from Opioid Overdoses, Public Health Officials Say

"Benzos" Could Be Next U.S. Drug Epidemic and Increase Deaths from Opioid Overdoses, Public Health Officials Say | Public Health | Scoop.it

The growing use of anti-anxiety pills reminds some doctors of the early days of the opioid crisis.

 

Considered relatively safe and non-addictive by the general public and many doctors, Xanax, Valium, Ativan and Klonopin have been prescribed to millions of Americans for decades to calm jittery nerves and promote a good night’s sleep.

 

But the number of people taking the sedatives and the average length of time they’re taking them have shot up since the 1990s, when doctors also started liberally prescribing opioid painkillers.

 

As a result, some state and federal officials are now warning that excessive prescribing of a class of drugs known as benzodiazepines or “benzos” is putting more people at risk of dependence on the pills and is exacerbating the fatal overdose toll of painkillers and heroin. Some local governments are beginning to restrict benzo prescriptions.

 

When taken in combination with painkillers or illicit narcotics, benzodiazepines can increase the likelihood of a fatal overdose as much as tenfold, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. On their own, the medications can cause debilitating withdrawal symptoms that last for months or years.

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Courier Times Editorial: Will Federal (EPA) Action Follow Local (Dog & Pony) Show on PFAS/PFOA Contamination of Water Supply?

The Environmental Protection Agency put on a great show this week at Hatboro-Horsham High School, where it held a marathon, day-long meeting focused on water contamination (read “Local Officials Focus on EPA at Horsham Meeting on PFAS/PFOA Contamination Meeting”). Question is, will action follow?

 

That’s what state and local officials, and citizens affected by the contamination want and need.

 

There’s been plenty of talk about perfluorinated compounds (PFAS) ever since the unregulated chemicals were discovered in drinking water here and around the country, mostly in communities near military bases where firefighting foam was embedded with the stuff. Some 70,000 people in Bucks and Montgomery counties are among the affected. How affected remains unclear. What is clear: people are worried and frightened. They need and deserve action.

 

That’s not to so say they haven’t gotten some help. Local authorities are now filtering the chemicals out of drinking water — at users’ expense. But the EPA has not added PFAS to its list of regulated chemicals, which would enable officials to take the necessary action to clean up the chemicals or force polluters to do so. That the EPA has not added any chemicals to its regulated list in nearly 20 years is a worrisome trend that naturally heightens fears.

 

Unfortunately, comments from EPA officials did little to allay those fears or provide encouragement that there is a firm resolve to take action.

 

Among those adding to the discussion were leaders from Horsham, Warminster, Warrington and Warwick, all of which have been impacted by the contaminated water. They spoke of the immediate action they took to protect citizens’ health and their frustration with federal inaction.

 

“What happened at the local level is immediate action,” noted Warminster Manager Gregg Schuster, explaining that the town’s water authority had spent millions to filter out the chemicals from its water supply. “I wish we had the same response and attitude from our federal partners. But today we don’t.”

 

Meanwhile, EPA officials will take their show back on the road. Hopefully, they didn’t leave the dogs and ponies behind.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Good luck getting FDA to take action. Read "EPA Enforcement Penalties Drop 94% During Trump's First Year in Office According to Public Citizen Report".

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EPA Meeting in Horsham is All About Perfluorinated Chemical Contamination of Local Water Supplies

EPA Meeting in Horsham is All About Perfluorinated Chemical Contamination of Local Water Supplies | Public Health | Scoop.it

High-ranking officials will be among the contingent sent by the Environmental Protection Agency to its Community Engagement session in Horsham on Wednesday. The all-day meeting, originally announced in early summer, will focus on perfluorinated chemicals that have contaminated the aquifer beneath Horsham, Warminster, Warrington and parts of surrounding communities.

 

According to a full agenda released last week, those attending will include Peter Grevatt, the agency’s top official for ground and drinking water issues, as well as Andy Gillespie, an associate director of the agency’s Office of Research and Development.

 

Also attending will be the Department of Defense’s Maureen Sullivan, who serves as deputy assistant secretary for environment, safety and occupational health, in addition to officials with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

 

Perfluorinated chemicals are currently unregulated, and have been popping up in water supplies across the country. Local contamination was discovered in 2014, and eventually was found to affect the drinking water of at least 70,000 current residents along the Bucks and Montgomery County border, as well as uncounted former residents and military veterans. The chemicals are suspected to have come from firefighting foams used at area military bases.

 

The day will begin at 10 a.m. with introductory remarks, followed by Grevatt giving an update on the agency’s actions on the chemicals. Gillespie will then present EPA research on the chemicals, followed by the DOD and CDC officials sharing “their experiences and challenges with PFAS.”

 

Following a lunch break, representatives of the Pennsylvania agencies will be joined by their counterparts from neighboring states to discuss issues each state faces. There also will be local panels, with a 1 p.m. session bringing together 10 municipal and water authority executives to discuss their experiences. At 2 p.m., local residents Hope Grosse and Joanne Stanton, along with Philadelphia environmental attorney Mark Cuker, will deliver a “community presentation.”

 

After an afternoon break, an open public comment period will run from 3:45 to 9 p.m.

 

Further Reading:

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johnmacknewtown's curator insight, July 24, 6:42 AM

I will attend and report what I learned at an upcoming Board of Supervisors meeting (hopefully, the Aug 8, 2018, session).  A representative of the Newtown Artesian Water Company hopefully will also be there to present a report on the quality of Newtown water and to answer questions from residents.

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Department of Environmental Protection Gives Green Light to Elcon Hazardous Waste Treatment Facility Near the Delaware River in Falls

Department of Environmental Protection Gives Green Light to Elcon Hazardous Waste Treatment Facility Near the Delaware River in Falls | Public Health | Scoop.it

 

Circle May 2019 on the calendar. By then, residents of Lower Bucks and Northern Burlington counties should know whether the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has given the green light for a hazardous waste treatment facility to be built near the Delaware River in Falls.

 

Proposed by Elcon Recycling Services, the plant would process between 150,000 to 210,000 tons of chemicals and pharmaceutical waste each year, according to the company’s past filings. The company aims to build the facility on a 23-acre site in the Keystone Industrial Port Complex, an approximately 3,000-acre industrial park encompassing the former footprint of U.S. Steel’s Fairless Works operation.

 

The DEP announced Thursday afternoon that Elcon cleared a key part of the application process, in which the department reviewed its application materials to ensure all necessary materials were included. Elcon previously failed to clear that hurdle twice, when the DEP announced the materials were “incomplete” in May (read “Elcon Reapplies to DEP for Toxic Waste Facility Located Next to Delaware River”; http://sco.lt/88Ru3l) and October 2017.

 

The third time proved to be the charm for Elcon, as it resubmitted the materials again in late May. Now that the DEP has all necessary materials, Elcon’s application will “undergo a 10-month technical review which will include opportunities for public participation,” according to the DEP.

 

Environmental groups and some local towns [including Newtown Township: read “Elcon Toxic Waste Incinerator: Déjà vu All Over Again”; http://www.johnmacknewtown.info/blog/?viewDetailed=201805220106] have voiced opposition to the facility, calling it an incinerator and saying they fear it could pollute the air or become flooded and contaminate the Delaware River. Elcon officials call the plant’s technology “thermal oxidization” and say it will limit toxic releases from the facility to safe amounts.

 

The controversial proposal in Lower Bucks will now undergo a 10 month technical review by Pennsylvania.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

According to Newtown's anti-Elcon resolution, "the incinerator treatment process will produce over 39 tons of air emissions containing, among other pollutants, nitrous oxide (NOS), ammonia (NH3), hydrochloric acid (HCL), volatile organic compounds (VOC), sulfur oxide (SOX) and total particulate matter;  the Philadelphia Water Department wrote in their testimony to the Department of Environmental Protection to decline permit to build in this location. The PWD stated that if a leak or spill were to occur, it would be a Catastrophic Event that would affect millions of people's water supply and would cause the termination of drinking water for an indeterminate amount of time.

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Chance of Being Prescribed Opioids for Minor Injury Differs Dramatically by Where You Live

Chance of Being Prescribed Opioids for Minor Injury Differs Dramatically by Where You Live | Public Health | Scoop.it

"Although opioids are not -- and should not -- be the first-line treatment for an ankle sprain, our study shows that opioid prescribing for these minor injuries is still common and far too variable," said lead author M. Kit Delgado, MD, MS, an assistant professor of Emergency Medicine and Epidemiology at Penn. "Given that we cannot explain this variation after adjusting for differences in patient characteristics, this study highlights opportunities to reduce the number of people exposed to prescription opioids for the first time and also to reduce the exposure to riskier high-intensity prescriptions.

 

In the study, researchers examined private insurance claims data from more than 30,800 patients visiting U.S. emergency departments for an ankle sprain from 2011-2015. All patients included in the study had not filled an opioid prescription within the past six months. Overall, 25 percent of patients received a prescription for an opioid pain medication (such as hydrocodone or oxycodone). However, there was wide variation across states: threefold between the low vs. high prescribing states, and at the extremes it was over tenfold, with only three percent of patients received an opioid prescription in North Dakota, compared to 40 percent in Arkansas. The authors admit that the extreme variation between the two states could be explained by smaller sample sizes, despite the results being statistically significant. Nevertheless, the overall pattern of variation across states suggests that there is significant room to reduce unnecessary prescribing for this condition.

 

In total, more than 143,000 opioid tablets were prescribed for patients in the study sample who filled prescriptions. Importantly, the authors note that bringing states with above-average prescribing rates down to the average prescribing rate (24.1 percent) would result in 18,000 fewer opioid tablets being prescribed. Similarly, reducing the number of tablets given with each prescription to the average (16 tablets) would result in 32,000 fewer tablets prescribed.

 

"There is a clear need for further impactful guidelines similar to the CDC guidelines that outline more specific opioid and non-opioid prescribing by diagnosis," said senior author Jeanmarie Perrone, MD, a professor of Emergency Medicine and director of Medical Toxicology at Penn Medicine.

 

Further Reading:

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How the EPA and the Pentagon Downplayed a Growing Toxic Threat - PFAs a Greater Menace Than Previously Disclosed 

Two new analyses of drinking water data and the science used to analyze it make clear the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Defense have downplayed the public threat posed by these chemicals. Far more people have likely been exposed to dangerous levels of them than has previously been reported because contamination from them is more widespread than has ever been officially acknowledged.

 

Moreover, ProPublica has found, the government’s understatement of the threat appears to be no accident.

 

The EPA and the Department of Defense calibrated water tests to exclude some harmful levels of contamination and only register especially high concentrations of chemicals, according to the vice president of one testing company. Several prominent scientists told ProPublica the DOD chose to use tests that would identify only a handful of chemicals rather than more advanced tests that the agencies’ own scientists had helped develop which could potentially identify the presence of hundreds of additional compounds.

 

The first analysis, contained in an EPA contractor’s PowerPoint presentation, shows that one chemical — the PFAS most understood to cause harm — is 24 times more prevalent in public drinking water than the EPA has reported. Based on this, the Environmental Working Group, an advocacy organization whose scientists have studied PFAS pollution, has estimated that as many as 110 million Americans are now at risk of being exposed to PFAS chemicals.

 

In the second analysis, ProPublica compared how the military checks for and measures PFAS-related contamination to what’s identified by more advanced tests. We found that the military relied on tests which are not capable of detecting all the PFAS chemicals it believed to be present. Even then, it underreported its results, sharing only a small part if its data. We also found that the military’s own research programs had retested several of those defense sites using more advanced testing technology and identified significantly more pollution than what the military reported to Congress.

 

In May, a Politico report revealed that the EPA and the White House, along with the Defense Department, had pressured a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to withhold a health study expected to warn that people exposed to PFAS chemicals face greater health risks than were previously understood. That report was quietly released in mid-June and, indeed, estimated safe levels of exposure are seven to 10 times smaller than what the EPA has said.

 

To identify PFAS compounds in drinking water, the EPA uses a lab test called “Method 537."  But even though the Method 537 test can detect 14 PFAS compounds, the EPA only asked for data on six of them. The EPA said this was to allow for testing of non-PFAS pollutants, since the agency is only allowed to target a certain number of emerging contaminants in each round of tests.

 

The agency also set detection thresholds for the six PFAS compounds included as much as 16 times higher than what the test was sensitive enough to detect — so high that only the most extreme cases of contamination were reflected in the federal drinking water dataset.

 

Indeed, according to a recent presentation by Andrew Eaton, vice president of Eurofins Eaton Analytical, the largest drinking water test lab in the country, which handled testing of more than 10,000 samples from 1,100 public water systems — about 30 percent of the EPA’s water samples overall — vast amounts of detected contamination was ignored by design.

 

Through its federal water quality reporting, the EPA has said publicly that PFOA was detected in just 1 percent of water samples across the nation. But when Eaton recently went back and reanalyzed the data the EPA didn’t want, he found PFOA was in nearly 24 percent of the samples his company tested.

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Bucks County Community College Round Table Focuses on Efforts to Resolve Opiate Epidemic: Pharma to Blame Says State Rep. Gene DiGirolamo

State Rep. Gene DiGirolamo didn’t mince words Friday morning when given the chance to address the opiate crisis plaguing communities throughout Bucks County.

 

He said the pharmaceutical companies that sell prescription opiates have helped to create the epidemic.

 

“Almost every time someone gets addicted, they have started with (prescription) opiates,” DiGirolamo, R-18, of Bensalem, said of the commonly prescribed painkillers. “It was the way the pharmaceutical companies marketed the opiates. They advertised the benefits of it not just to the medical community but also to the general public.”

 

From the prescribed painkillers people often move on to heroin, fentanyl or other illegal substances to try to ease their pain, said DiGirolamo, who speaks from experience, because his son, Gene Jr., is in long-term recovery from addictions to both opiate painkillers and heroin. Recent studies confirm the lawmaker’s suspicions. The studies suggest as many as three out of every four current heroin users were previously prescription opiate abusers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

 

The pharmaceuticals should be held accountable, the state lawmaker said. “They are distributing this garbage,” he said. “It is all over the place. It is nothing short of criminal. We should make the drug companies come in and pay for the mess they have created.”

 

DiGirolamo shared his thoughts during a round table discussion on combating the epidemic. The discussion took place at Bucks County Community College in Newtown Township.

 

 

Further Reading: 

• Attacking the Root of the Opioid Crisis - Pharmaceutical Companies: http://bit.ly/2tEHoNT ;

 • Wolf declares opioid crisis a state disaster emergency: http://bit.ly/2EpGxVP ;

 • Pennsylvania Underestimates Death Due to Opioids by More Than Half!: http://sco.lt/8JwGcj ;

 • The Other Cost of the Opioid Epidemic: Increased Taxes: http://bit.ly/opiodsandtaxes ;

 • PA Attorney General Subpoenas Opioid Producers: http://bit.ly/2Es2Ytf ;

 • Bensalem First Local Government to Sue Opioid Manufacturers: http://bit.ly/2BLA8U6

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The Burden of Opioid-Related Mortality in the United States High Among Adults Aged 24-35 Years, According to CDC Study Data

The Burden of Opioid-Related Mortality in the United States High Among Adults Aged 24-35 Years, According to CDC Study Data | Public Health | Scoop.it

Question:  What has been the burden of opioid-related deaths in the United States over a recent 15-year period?

Findings:  In this serial cross-sectional study, we found that the percentage of all deaths attributable to opioids increased 292% (from 0.4% to 1.5%) between 2001 and 2016, resulting in approximately 1.68 million person-years of life lost in 2016 alone (5.2 per 1000 population). The burden was particularly high among adults aged 24 to 35 years; in 2016, 20% of deaths in this age group involved opioids.

Meaning:  Premature death from opioids imposes an enormous and growing public health burden across the United States.

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Enough Humans Are Hooked on Opioids that These Chemicals Are Now Found in Mussels and Other Shellfish!

Enough Humans Are Hooked on Opioids that These Chemicals Are Now Found in Mussels and Other Shellfish! | Public Health | Scoop.it

As more and more American communities grapple with opioid addiction, the human toll of the epidemic has grown in both scope and severity. And now, scientists at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife have found evidence that drug's impact has literally flowed downstream to affect marine life, as well.

 

Specifically, they used mussels as a barometer of pollution in the waters off Seattle, and discovered that oxycodone is now present enough in the marine environment there for shellfish to test positive.

 

The discovery of opioid-positive shellfish in Puget Sound is a stark new milestone in the epidemic, showing that enough humans are hooked on these life-altering drugs for the trace chemicals they excrete to register in other species in our coastal waters.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Mussel Pain Thwarted!

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Newtown Artesian Water Report on PFAS to Newtown Board of Supervisors

Newtown Artesian Water Report on PFAS to Newtown Board of Supervisors | Public Health | Scoop.it

Dan Angove, Assistant General Manager, Newtown Artesian Water Company, gave an update on Newtown's drinking water at the August 8, 2018, Board of Supervisors meeting. He answered questions from Supervisor John Mack about Maximum Contamination Levels of PFAS - perfluorinated compounds - in the town's drinking water.

 

View the video here

 

johnmacknewtown's insight:

NOTE: The chart in this post shows that there are several conflicting standards for what is considered the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for these compounds in local drinking water sources. This chart was created by John Mack based on information from various sources.

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EWG Report: Perfluorinated Pollutant (PFAS) Contamination of Water Spreading

EWG Report: Perfluorinated Pollutant (PFAS) Contamination of Water Spreading | Public Health | Scoop.it

The chemicals are in the drinking water of about 16 million Americans, a nonprofit group has calculated.

 

A new analysis from the Environmental Working Group, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit, finds that drinking water contamination with PFAS chemicals now exists in 36 states.

 

The pollutants, also known as perfluorinated compounds, have been found at high levels in the drinking water of approximately 70,000 residents in Bucks and Montgomery counties and are the subject of ongoing investigation by this news organization.

 

According to a new mapping effort by the Environmental Working Group, known drinking water contamination sites have grown from just a handful a decade ago to more than 94 locations. That includes dozens of military bases where the chemicals were used in firefighting foams, as well as near industrial plants that used the chemicals in manufacturing processes.

 

The chemicals have been linked by some studies to health effects including high cholesterol, ulcerative colitis, immunodeficiencies, low birth weight babies and some cancers. However, researchers say much about potential health effects is still unknown, prompting lawmakers to provide $10 million this year to fund a nationwide federal health study on the chemicals.

 

Despite growing concerns, the chemicals remain unregulated by the Environmental Protection Agency. EPA officials previously said they are considering the creation of a formal safe drinking water limit for the chemicals but might not decide until 2021. In lieu of federal action, states such as New Jersey and Michigan have passed or proposed regulations such as drinking water and surface water limits, as well as limits for the consumption of sport fish. Pennsylvania is considering regulation of one chemical, PFOA.

 

“With the alarming spread of known PFAS contamination sites, it’s unconscionable that the Environmental Protection Agency has taken only the most feeble steps to respond to the crisis,” said Bill Walker, an investigative editor for the Environmental Working Group, in a prepared statement. “States are stepping up to set cleanup standards, but a national crisis demands a national response.”

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johnmacknewtown's curator insight, April 19, 7:21 AM

At an August, 2017, Board of Supervisors meeting, Dan Angove, Assistant General Manager of Newtown Artesian Water Company, claimed that EWG, which is responsible for this analysis, is a "California resident who was working for a company selling water fitters." Read "Company Discounts Study That Found 7 Carcinogens."

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Youth Opinions About Guns and Gun Control in the United States - Study Published in JAMA Pediatrics

Youth Opinions About Guns and Gun Control in the United States - Study Published in JAMA Pediatrics | Public Health | Scoop.it

Young activists and mass-shooting survivors in the United States have recently been organizing protests and demanding increased gun control measures. Although national polls have tracked adult opinions about gun control policies for decades, little is known about how youth feel about guns and/or gun control. Because the youth perspective is a powerful factor in the public debate, the goal of this study was to characterize youth opinions on guns and gun control.

 

Participants came from the National MyVoice Text Message Cohort1 and were recruited through targeted Facebook and Instagram advertisements to match national benchmarks based on weighted samples from the 2016 American Community Survey, including age, gender, race/ethnicity, educational level, family income, and region of the country. MyVoice is a large-scale longitudinal mixed methods study of youth. Although MyVoice is not a nationally representative sample, participants are recruited on the basis of the American Community Survey benchmarks to ensure a meaningful and diverse sample. This study was approved by the University of Michigan Institutional Review Board.

 

Similar to their adult counterparts, most youths in our study were not suggesting a ban on all guns or repeal of the Second Amendment; instead, they supported legislative action that they believed would make their country safer.

 

Van Sparrentak M, Chang T, Miller AL, Nichols LP, Sonneville KR. Youth Opinions About Guns and Gun Control in the United States. JAMA Pediatr. Published online July 30, 2018. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2018.1746

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Council Rock High School students commented in favor of a gun safety resolution before the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors at a June 13, 2018, public meeting. View the video.

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U.S. Military Refuses to Test for PFAS in Fish in Horsham, PA & Other Areas

U.S. Military Refuses to Test for PFAS in Fish in Horsham, PA & Other Areas | Public Health | Scoop.it

In mid-July, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection released fish consumption advisories based on a study of the state’s fish for perfluorinated compounds, or PFAS (read “New Jersey Updates Fish Consumption Advisories for Lower Delaware River Watershed, Expands Testing to Include PFAS”; http://sco.lt/6kRZRJ). The toxic chemicals are being found in water systems across the country after being used for decades in a variety of consumer and industrial products. They were also used in military-grade firefighting foams, and have been found in large amounts at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey, as well as a trio of former and current bases in Bucks and Montgomery counties in Pennsylvania.

 

New Jersey is just the fifth state to put forth draft or finalized fish consumption limits for the chemicals, joining Alabama, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

 

Military officials say there are no current plans to test fish near Delaware Valley military bases for perfluorinated chemicals, despite a recent report from New Jersey stating humans could face health risks from consuming fish contaminated with the chemicals.

 

[As for PA] According to emails obtained through open records requests, Lora Werner, regional director of the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, emailed state officials about the concern in October 2016. That agency is a division of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a primary federal agency tasked with assessing health impacts from toxic exposures.

 

Following public meetings in Horsham (read “Local Officials Focus on EPA at Horsham Meeting on PFAS/PFOA Contamination Meeting”; http://sco.lt/66QO5B), an area of extensive PFAS contamination from a pair of nearby military bases, Werner noted, “There is a question about consuming fish from local creeks in the Warminster/Willow Grove area.”

 

Several environmental groups applauded the release of the consumption limits.

 

“These fish advisories serve the important purpose of telling people they should limit their intake of fish,” said Tracy Carluccio, deputy director of the Bristol Borough-based Delaware Riverkeeper Network, in a prepared statement. “These are important advances in the public’s protection.”

 

“It’s a warning bell that New Jersey is finding PFAS in our waterways and fish,” added Jeff Tittel, president of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “They are becoming more prevalent in our environment and bioaccumulating in our fish populations.”

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EPA Enforcement Penalties Drop 94% During Trump's First Year in Office According to Public Citizen Report

EPA Enforcement Penalties Drop 94% During Trump's First Year in Office According to Public Citizen Report | Public Health | Scoop.it

During President Donald Trump’s first year in office, enforcement against corporate crime and wrongdoing declined dramatically, with total penalties for such violations plummeting from the final year of the Obama administration, according to a new report from Public Citizen.

 

Public Citizen’s report “Corporate Impunity” (PDF) tracked enforcement activities against corporate violators by 12 federal agencies overseen by a Trump administration official for the majority of Trump’s first year in office. The report was co-released with Violation Tracker, a corporate enforcement database produced by the Corporate Research Project of Good Jobs First.

 

In Trump’s first year, EPA penalties dropped 94 percent – the most of any of the federal agencies analyzed in the report. (Public Citizen’s analysis of EPA enforcement includes actions against corporations, municipalities and individuals.) Under former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, the agency decreased penalty sums against polluters from $23 billion in Obama’s last year to $1.4 billion in Trump’s first.

 

In one such case, the EPA announced five weeks before Trump’s inauguration that it was seeking $4.8 million in penalties against the pesticide manufacturer Syngenta Seeds for violating safety rules that protect workers from being poisoned. Trump’s EPA cut the penalty a year later to $550,000 – just 11 percent of the original fine.

 

Because enforcement actions can take years to complete, the steep declines at the agencies are especially noteworthy, considering most of the investigations would have begun under Obama and the agencies’ career staff remain relatively unchanged.

 

“Trump’s ‘zero-tolerance’ enforcement policy against first-time border crossings and street crimes has rightly grabbed headlines,” said Rick Claypool, a Public Citizen research director. “But what makes this even more shocking is how these so-called tough on crime policies coincide with policies that decrease prosecutions and penalties for giant lawbreaking corporations.”

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Local Officials Focus on EPA at Horsham Meeting on PFAS/PFOA Contamination Meeting

Local Officials Focus on EPA at Horsham Meeting on PFAS/PFOA Contamination Meeting | Public Health | Scoop.it

[View the video of the local panel discussion here.]

 

Nearly two dozen local, state and federal officials met Wednesday in Horsham to discuss area PFAS contamination. Many had a similar ask: that the EPA must formally act on the unregulated chemicals.

 

Andrew Wheeler…That’s the name of the acting administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the one that matters most following a marathon meeting held by the agency at Hatboro-Horsham High School on Wednesday.

 

The meeting brought together about two dozen regulators and officials from the federal, state and local levels to discuss area contamination with perfluorinated compounds, unregulated chemicals that contaminated the drinking water of at least 70,000 people before being discovered and filtered out in the past few years.

 

But Wheeler wields the power to take the action that most of those officials seek, a power the EPA hasn’t used for any chemical since 2000: to add PFOS and PFOA to a formal list of regulated chemicals. Doing so, many speakers said, would enable them to take the actions needed to clean up the chemicals or force polluters to do so.

 

“Failure to address PFAS at a national level will really put public health at risk,” said Lisa Daniels, director of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Bureau of Safe Drinking Water. “EPA must take a leadership role.”

 

Daniels was joined on a panel by her counterparts in the neighboring states of Delaware, Maryland and West Virginia. Other panels included federal officials from the EPA, Department of Defense, and U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, as well as a local panel consisting of leaders from affected towns and water authorities.

 

What leaders from local communities said they wanted was action. Officials from Horsham, Warminster, Warrington and Warwick, all impacted in varying degrees by contaminated groundwater, echoed each other in saying they needed relief.

 

“What happens at the local level is immediate action,” said Warminster manager Gregg Schuster, noting the town’s water authority has spent millions to filter the chemicals entirely out of its water supply. “I wish we had the same response and attitude from our federal partners. But today we don’t.”

 

Schuster and his counterparts were united in sharing several concerns at the meeting. They said the EPA’s 70 parts per trillion (ppt) limit for the chemicals is too high, that the military hasn’t paid to put filters on every well, and that contaminated water from the area military bases continues to flow into off-base waterways.

 

“The federal government caused this problem, the federal government must solve this problem,” Schuster added.

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Legislator from Pittsburgh Proposing Bill to Legalize Marijuana in PA

Legislator from Pittsburgh Proposing Bill to Legalize Marijuana in PA | Public Health | Scoop.it

“States from coast to coast have embraced legalization and those states are reaping the economic and criminal justice benefits,” said state Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-19, Pittsburgh, in a statement released Wednesday. “It is time Pennsylvania joins with those states in leaving behind the ugly stigma of marijuana.”

 

Wheatley cited a report released last week by state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale that estimated Pennsylvania could receive $581 million in annual tax revenue from legal marijuana for adults (read “Legalizing Recreation Use of Marijuana in PA Could Mean $581M Windfall in State Taxes, Says PA Auditor General”). Wheatley echoed the benefits seen by other states that have legalized marijuana, such as reducing criminal justice costs.

 

If Allegheny County and Philadelphia were allowed to impose local taxes of 1 to 2 percent, Allegheny County could collect an additional $3.8 million annually while Philadelphia could receive $6.9 million, the report said.

 

The revenue predictions were based on a 35 percent tax and surveys that show about 800,000 Pennsylvanians admit to being regular marijuana users.

 

DePasquale also said the revenue generated through legalized marijuana could benefit the Children’s Health Insurance Program and early education, augment the state’s spending on opioid treatment and boost veterans’ access to mental health and drug-treatment services.

 

“This is why it comes as no surprise that recent polling shows that a majority of Pennsylvanians support legalization,” Wheatley said. “This is an idea whose time has come.”

 

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Elcon Reapplies to DEP for Toxic Waste Facility Located Next to Delaware River

Elcon Reapplies to DEP for Toxic Waste Facility Located Next to Delaware River | Public Health | Scoop.it

The controversial project, which opponents call an incinerator, is now on its fourth attempt. New filings reveal Elcon intends to pay U.S. Steel nearly $3 million for the land.

 

For the fourth time in as many years, Elcon Recycling Services is resubmitting application materials in an attempt to build a controversial waste treatment facility in Falls. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection announced the newly submitted materials this week; the agency previously rejected the company’s application materials three times.

 

Elcon seeks to build a hazardous waste treatment facility that would process between 150,000 and 210,000 tons of chemical and pharmaceutical waste each year, according to its past filings. The company aims to build the facility on a 23-acre site in the Keystone Industrial Port Complex, which is an approximately 3,000-acre industrial park encompassing the former footprint of U.S. Steel’s Fairless Works operations. The new filings reveal Elcon intends to pay nearly $3 million to U.S. Steel for the land.

 

Elcon touts a proposed “thermal oxidation” process it says would limit toxic releases from the facility. Concerned citizens and environmental opponents are skeptical of the claim, saying the facility is simply a waste incinerator. Groups such as Bucks POWA and the Delaware Riverkeeper Network say they’re specifically concerned about toxic materials being released to the air and potential drinking water contamination should an accident or flood release chemicals into the nearby Delaware River.

 

“Siting Elcon next to the Delaware River, where millions of people get their drinking water from, is short-sighted and reckless,” Fred Stine, citizen action coordinator for the Riverkeepers, wrote in an email. “Every day, as many as 25 tanker trucks filled with chemical hazardous waste will drive within one-half mile of the river.”

 

Elcon’s four-year quest to have the facility approved by the DEP has been mired in setbacks…But Elcon may be zeroing in on the target. Last May, the DEP cited six areas as lacking. In October, it was down to just three, all revolving around Elcon’s lack of ownership of the land and relevant paperwork.

 

Whether Elcon has filled in all the gaps remains to be seen.

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johnmacknewtown's curator insight, May 20, 8:05 AM

In 2016, Newtown Township - among others - passed a resolution opposing this plant due to "danger" to drinking water. See here for more information about that.

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New Jersey Updates Fish Consumption Advisories for Lower Delaware River Watershed, Expands Testing to Include PFAS

New Jersey Updates Fish Consumption Advisories for Lower Delaware River Watershed, Expands Testing to Include PFAS | Public Health | Scoop.it

The Department of Environmental Protection, in partnership with the New Jersey Department of Health, has updated recreational fish advisories for tributaries, lakes and ponds in the lower Delaware River watershed as part of the state’s ongoing fish-safety monitoring program.

 

The DEP has also expanded testing of fish in selected water bodies in this and other regions of the state to include several chemicals of emerging concern known as perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS. These analyses have resulted in the DEP’s first consumption advisories for these chemicals.

 

“Before going fishing, anglers should take a few minutes to review advisories in place for their favorite fishing spots so they can make good decisions about eating the fish they catch,” said DEP Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe.


The DEP tested 11 fish species in 14 water bodies in Burlington, Camden, Cumberland, Gloucester, Ocean and Salem counties for PCBs, mercury and pesticides. The testing resulted in less restrictive advisories for 36 species than had been in place, while 24 saw no change. Ten advisories are now more restrictive.

 

Data also was collected for species not tested in previous years as well as at one new sample location. The new data resulted in 30 new consumption advisories for the lower Delaware River watershed region.

 

Due to growing concerns over the presence of PFAS in the environment, the DEP also sampled water, sediment and fish tissue samples from a limited number of water bodies in the lower Delaware River watershed and other regions of the state.

 

Water bodies were selected based on their proximity to potential sources of PFAS and their likelihood of being used for recreational and fishing purposes. PFAS were detected at varying levels and combinations in all of the water bodies tested.

 

PFAS – which include compounds more commonly known as PFOA, PFOS and PFNA – were once widely used in a variety of applications, including non-stick cookware, stain-resistant clothing and fabrics, food packaging, and in firefighting foams. These chemicals are persistent in the environment and can accumulate in people exposed to them.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

According to emails obtained through open records requests, Lora Werner, regional director of the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, emailed state officials about the concern in October 2016. That agency is a division of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a primary federal agency tasked with assessing health impacts from toxic exposures.

 

Following public meetings in Horsham, an area of extensive PFAS contamination from a pair of nearby military bases, Werner noted, “There is a question about consuming fish from local creeks in the Warminster/Willow Grove area.”

 

Read: "New Jersey releases fish advisories for PFAS"

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Legalizing Recreation Use of Marijuana in PA Could Mean $581M Windfall in State Taxes, Says PA Auditor General

Legalizing Recreation Use of Marijuana in PA Could Mean $581M Windfall in State Taxes, Says PA Auditor General | Public Health | Scoop.it

With legalized recreational marijuana use a possibility in New Jersey and other states, Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale says the commonwealth might be missing out on a major tax boon if it doesn’t follow suit.

 

While the state legalized medical marijuana use in 2016, there has been little movement on the recreational marijuana front. A 14-page report released by DePasquale on Thursday indicates a regulated market for recreational use could be a $1.66 billion industry in Pennsylvania, generating an estimated $581 million in state tax revenue.

 

DePasquale’s report estimates more than 8 percent, or 798,556, Pennsylvanians use marijuana regularly, and uses a monthly average of $2,080 a month spent on marijuana in Colorado and Washington, which legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, to reach its industry estimated in Pennsylvania.

 

“Pennsylvania’s budget challenges are now a constant factor in all state policy decisions,” DePasquale writes. “Taxing marijuana offers a rare glimmer of fiscal hope, providing a way to refocus the state budget process away from filling its own gaps.”

 

While still federally illegal, several states have lifted recreational marijuana prohibitions since 2012.

 

A 2016 report from the Tax Foundation, an independent tax policy research organization, found legal marijuana markets in Colorado and Washington “exceeded initial estimates” and that a mature marijuana industry could generate more than $28 billion in federal, state and local taxes.

 

Also read:

State Rep. Perry Warren, D-31, of Newtown, Supports PA House Resolution 567 to Study Possible Decriminalization of Marijuana

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Not only can legalized marijuana raise much needed tax revenue, it can also help combat the opioid epidemic, save lives, and save EMS expenses as well as freeing up law enforcement to focus on more serious crimes. Read “Is There a Role for Medical Cannabis in Combating the Opioid Epidemic?

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Kratom - a Legal, Unregulated Opioid That Can Be Purchased in Some PA Gas Stations - Concerns Bucks County Authorities, Addiction Prevention Experts, DEA and FDA

Kratom - a Legal, Unregulated Opioid That Can Be Purchased in Some PA Gas Stations - Concerns Bucks County Authorities, Addiction Prevention Experts, DEA and FDA | Public Health | Scoop.it

An unregulated opioid that is accessible in some area gas stations and tobacco shops is increasingly sprouting up in area communities, concerning law enforcement officials and drug prevention specialists because of its dangers and addictive qualities.

 

Kratom — a natural opioid that grows in Southeast Asia — has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration and is banned in several states. Yet the substance is legal in Pennsylvania, surfacing in area recovery homes, drug court and in coroner reports, where it has been identified as a contributor in four Bucks County deaths in the last two years. Montgomery County Coroner’s office reported kratom was found in the toxicology reports of five deaths since 2016.

 

On websites and on kratom products, the drug is being marketed as a pain remedy or a tool to reduce opiate withdrawal. The American Kratom Association said on its website that it is “a safe herbal supplement that’s more akin to tea and coffee than any other substances” and provides “natural pain relief.” Still, two weeks ago, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an updated warning to consumers that it is more harmful than helpful.

 

In a May 2018 news release, the FDA warned that kratom — which comes in liquid, small capsules or in a powdery substance — affects the same opioid brain receptors as morphine and “appears to have properties that expose users to the risks of addiction, abuse and dependence.”

 

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration considers kratom a “drug of concern,” and alerts consumers that it is not “approved for any medical use.”

 

Yet because it is legal and accessible, it’s popularity is growing — nationally and locally.

 

“Kratom is not illegal, unfortunately, which is why we are seeing an uptick in its usage,” said Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub. “It is still mind-altering and we advise against its usage by anyone.”

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Bucks County, Bensalem File Lawsuits Against Opioid Manufacturers in Hopes of Recouping Costs

Bucks County, Bensalem File Lawsuits Against Opioid Manufacturers in Hopes of Recouping Costs | Public Health | Scoop.it

Bucks County has become the latest in a growing number of local governments nationwide to file suit against pharmaceutical companies on allegations the groups share responsibility in the ongoing opioid crisis.

 

County officials announced the lawsuit Tuesday afternoon, just days after Bensalem made good on a promise to file its own lawsuit against the companies.

 

The county’s 159-page civil complaint names 14 corporate entities including Purdue Pharma Inc. — whose aggressive and deceptive marketing of painkiller OxyContin in the 1990s in the face of growing abuse was the focus of a New York Times report Tuesday — and embattled former Insys Therapeutics Inc., CEO John Kapoor, who also faces federal racketeering charges for his alleged role in a scheme to pay kickbacks to doctors who prescribed the fentanyl-based spray medication Subsys [read “5 Doctors Are Charged With Taking Kickbacks for Fentanyl Prescriptions - Lock 'em Up!”]

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Opioid overdoses killed more than 230 people last year in Bucks County alone, up 89 percent from the previous two, according to county authorities, and have contributed to hundreds of thousands of deaths in the last few decades.

 

Among the most significantly impacted areas, say officials, are the Bucks County Correctional Facility, the county Coroner’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office.

 

The prison, Loughery said, needs expanding due to a swelling population of inmates arrested for drug-related offenses, while the coroner’s office has added two new staffers to deal with the influx of opioid deaths and the DA’s office last year added several detectives to create its six-man Drug Strike Force [This six-detective “task force” that District Attorney Matt Weintraub hired to “root out” the pushers at costs $885,400 per year (see here)].

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