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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 & Safety |

[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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These curated news items about public health issues such as opioid addiction, water and air quality, emergency services, traffic, crime, 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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FDA Manipulates Review Process and Approves Dsuvia: A Powerful Opioid Pill That's 10 Times Stronger Than Fentanyl!!!!!

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is recklessly and needlessly endangering people by approving a super-strong opioid, Public Citizen and the head of a key FDA advisory committee said today.

The FDA gave the green light for the medication, which is called sufentanil sublingual tablet (brand name Dsuvia) and is to be used to treat moderate-to-severe acute pain in a medically supervised setting. It is five to 10 times more potent than fentanyl and 1,000 times more potent than morphine.

“It is certain that Dsuvia will worsen the opioid epidemic and kill people needlessly,” said Dr. Sidney Wolfe, founder and senior adviser of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group. “It will be taken by medical personnel and others for whom it has not been prescribed. And many of those will overdose and die. It is likely, if not certain, that that Dsuvia will be banned after ‘enough’ such deaths occur and the inevitable House oversight hearings are held investigating why the FDA approved this opioid with no unique benefit but unique harms.”

Public Citizen and Dr. Raeford Brown, chair of the FDA’s Anesthetic and Analgesic Drug Products Advisory Committee, last month warned the agency not to approve the medication. Brown’s public stance was highly unusual because he bucked his committee’s recommendation and publicly warned against approval.

Brown has described Dsuvia as so potent that abusers of the intravenous formulation of it – which has been available since 1984 for use by clinicians only in hospital settings for general anesthesia – often die when they inject the first dose. He said he has “witnessed this in resuscitating physicians, medical students, technicians and other health care providers, some successfully.”

“I am very disappointed with the decision of the agency to approve Dsuvia,” Brown said. “This action is inconsistent with the charter of the agency. As I discussed with representatives of the agency today, the lack of efficacy data and the sponsor’s inadequate response to safety concerns have not been addressed since the FDA’s complete response letter was sent in 2017. Clearly the issue of the safety of the public is not important to the commissioner, despite his attempts to obfuscate and misdirect. I will continue to hold the agency accountable for their response to the worst public health problem since the 1918 influenza epidemic.”

Despite FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb’s misleading statement today that “we routinely seek advisory committee input on new opioid product approvals,” the “committee review process was rigged,” Wolfe said.

The FDA’s Anesthetic and Analgesic Drug Products Advisory Committee last month recommended approving Dsuvia by a 10-3 vote (Brown was absent). But the meeting at which the committee considered the medication should have included the full Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory (DSaRM) committee, of which Wolfe was a member from 2008 to 2012, Wolfe said.

In fact, the committee had been invited to a meeting last May to consider Dsuvia. However, in the late summer, the FDA disinvited all but three members, who participated in the October meeting, Wolfe said.

“By disinviting all but three members of the DSaRM, the FDA knew that would help get a positive vote for the medication,” he said.

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FDA Considers Approval of New Opioid 5-10X More Potent Than Fentanyl - A Serious Risk Says Public Citizen

FDA Considers Approval of New Opioid 5-10X More Potent Than Fentanyl - A Serious Risk Says Public Citizen | Public Health & Safety |

FDA Should Reject Dangerous, Highly Potent Opioid Treatment

Public Citizen’s Dr. Meena Aladdin to Testify Against Sublingual Sufentanil Before FDA Panel

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is considering approving a new opioid medication that is five to 10 times more potent than fentanyl for the treatment of moderate-to-severe acute pain in a medically supervised setting. Dr. Meena Aladdin, a health researcher with Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, will testify today in front of the FDA’s Anesthetic and Analgesic Drug Advisory Committee and will urge the panel to recommend that the agency not approve the medication, known as sufentanil sublingual tablet.

The drug, developed by AcelRx Pharmaceuticals, does not offer any unique advantages over the numerous available FDA-approved opioid products for treating acute pain, and thus does not fill any unmet medical need. However, it does pose unique risks of serious harm if it’s misused or abused or if accidental exposure occurs.

Aladdin will tell the committee that consistent with the critical public health concept of the precautionary principle, the lack of any unique benefit and the unmitigated concern for unique risks mandate that the FDA reject this dangerous opioid.

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Medical Marijuana Zoning Ordinance Moves Forward In Newtown Twp

Rules that designate where medical marijuana dispensaries and grower/processors can exist in the zoning jointure that includes Newtown Township, Upper Makefield and Wrightstown are moving forward.


The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors on Wednesday authorized the jointure to advertise an ordinance that sets guidelines for where the two types of uses would be permitted to set up shop in the jointure.


Under the proposed ordinance that will be advertised, provided the Wrightstown and Upper Makefield boards agree, dispensaries could only be located in the "Village Commercial" zone in Upper Makefield.


Grower processors would have to be located in Newtown Township's "Light Industrial" district. Under the ordinance, grower/processors must be located 1,000 feet or more away from a school.


[Newtown Township Solicitor David] Sander assured the board that tight laws are in place at the state level to regulate both processors and dispensaries. "If you thought the state liquor program was strict...this makes that look like a tot lot. The state legislation on medical marijuana is extremely strict. It's very expensive to apply for a license let alone get one," he said.


Further Reading:

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Council Rock Uses Sate Grant to Train 50 Staffers in Active Shooter Response

Council Rock Uses Sate Grant to Train 50 Staffers in Active Shooter Response | Public Health & Safety |

Council Rock School District has released some additional information about a $20,000 state grant it has received to increase school safety (read “Council Rock Gets $20K Grant To Prevent, Reduce School Violence”).


According to information from the district, the money will be used to pay for 50 staff members to receive comprehensive ALICE training this month. ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) prepares school districts to handle the threat of an active shooter, the district explained (read “Council Rock School District Approves Improved Lockdown Communication Protocol & Training for Teachers and Staff”).


According to the district, the 50 ALICE trainees will undergo a two-day, hands-on training that will make them ALICE certified. They will then train the rest of the district staff in the ALICE technique on Nov. 6, which is Council Rock's next professional development day.


"Council Rock will also utilize grant funds for full district access to ALICE's E-Learning component, ensuring that all individuals trained have a baseline understanding of the ALICE safety strategy," the district explained in an email to the school community.


Last week, State Rep. Helen Tai, who represents a portion of the district, announced Council Rock had received the money.


"Thank you Council Rock School District for making the effort to successfully apply for this competitive grant to provide a safer learning environment for our students," Tai said in a statement. "School districts and governments at all levels need to continue to work together to promote programs like these to address and prevent violence in schools across the district and commonwealth.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

IMHO, prevention of active shooter incidents is also important and some of the state grant monies should be used to support student lobbying lawmakers for better gun control measures such as thus proposed by a Newtown Twp Resolution passed not too long ago:“Newtown Township Passes Gun Safety Resolution After Emotional Student Testimony”. 

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PFAS Contamination at Military Sites Reveals a Need for Urgent Science-based Protections

PFAS Contamination at Military Sites Reveals a Need for Urgent Science-based Protections | Public Health & Safety |

A new UCS factsheet released today looks at PFAS contamination at military bases, revealing that many of the sites have levels of these chemicals in their drinking or groundwater at potentially unsafe levels.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Also read:  “Court Rules Navy Can be Sued by Local Residents for PFAS Water Contamination Claims”; 

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If Excessive Noise Regulations Fall in Newtown Township and Officials No Longer Enforce Them, Will Residents Make a Sound?

If Excessive Noise Regulations Fall in Newtown Township and Officials No Longer Enforce Them, Will Residents Make a Sound? | Public Health & Safety |

Township supervisors could vote Wednesday evening to remove four sections of township code that on paper are meant to deter “excessive and unnecessary” noise but in practice often are subjective and difficult for officials to enforce.


Supervisors are poised to decide Wednesday evening whether to pass an ordinance axing four sections from the local code governing “excessive and unnecessary” noise and other nuisances.


With the board’s approval, gone would be a section deeming it unlawful for people or businesses to make sounds “physically annoying to the comfort of any reasonable person” or “so harsh, prolonged, unnatural or unusual in their use, time and place” as to discomfort residents, through means like vehicles, machinery, sound equipment and musical instruments.


[For more details of all changes in the ordinance to be considered, read "Newtown Township to Consider Amending Noise Ordinance".]


One township supervisor said he once was on the receiving end of a questionable nuisance report.


John Mack said a police officer knocked on his door and woke him up around midnight on a weekday, responding to a neighbor’s call that there was “loud music” originating from a party at his house. The source of the noise, earlier in the evening, had been Mack’s son, listening to music in his car while pulling into the driveway.


“I responded (to the officer), ‘Does it look like there was a party here?’” Mack said, adding, “You can easily see how the police can be misled by he-said, she-said.”


Mack said, on the one hand, the noise complaints are a small percentage of the total calls to police, and that the calls create opportunities for officers to meet and engage with residents face to face. On the other hand, he said, officers could be distracted from more serious matters if drawn into the smaller-scale disputes.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Coincidently (?), at least one Newtown resident recently sent a letter to the Supervisors complaining about barking dogs in a nearby kennel: "On an almost daily basis I have been forced to go indoors and on many occasions have had to shut my windows and doors because the barking was unbearable. There are many days when the incessant barking lasts for hours at a time."

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PennDOT Responds to Residents' Complaints About Swamp Road

PennDOT Responds to Residents' Complaints About Swamp Road | Public Health & Safety |

Representatives of PennDOT District 6 answered questions and concerns about Swamp Road from Newtown residents and Supervisors at the September 12, 2018, BOS public meeting. In this short clip, PennDOT Civil Engineer Manager Ashwin Patel answers questions about lowering the speed limit on sections of Swamp Road.


View the video here.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Here are some of the main points discussed, as reported in the September 19, 2018, edition of Bucks Local News:


“Planning Commission chairman Allen Fidler, who said that he was speaking as a township citizen, asked whether adding a traffic light to the Twining Bridge Road intersection would ... improve safety. PennDOT’s Patel responded that perhaps a three-way stop sign would suffice.


“Phyllis Ferro, who has lived in the Tyler Walk development for 18 years, ... said the noise is currently unbearable...The noise these vehicles [quarry trucks] now make is not conducive to a happy environment,’ she stressed.


“Ferro suggested that reducing the speed limit, would also quell traffic noise in the area.


“Swamp Road’s 45-m.p.h. speed limit is also a major concern with both residents and township leaders.


“At the conclusion, the agency agreed to look into the traffic study which set the current speed limit to determine if any changes are warranted on part or all of Swamp Road.”

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Bucks Co. Doctor Prescribed Opioids To Addicts, Drug Dealers

Bucks Co. Doctor Prescribed Opioids To Addicts, Drug Dealers | Public Health & Safety |

A Bucks County resident and doctor whose Montgomery County family practice "became a magnet" for drug addicts and drug traffickers was arrested Wednesday for illegally prescribing opioids, the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office announced.


Lawrence Miller, 48, of Warminster is one of four doctors charged following a major investigation by the Montgomery County DA's office.


Nine of Miller's patients died of overdoses, authorities said. Five died in 2016, two in 2017, and two in 2018, authorities said.


Miller, whose office was at 1000 Walnut Street in Lansdale, often prescribed doses that were up to 10 times higher than the maximum dosage recommended by state and national guidelines, authorities said.


Miller, arrested on Sept. 12, faces 31 counts of unlawful prescribing and related counts. His bail was set at $100,000 and he waved his preliminary hearing.


In some cases, Miller would prescribe more than 500 pills of opioid painkillers, according to the DA. Authorities said little or no accompanying medical treatment came with the prescriptions. Several of his patients were drug traffickers, the Montgomery County DA said.

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Newtown Boro Resident Proposes Alternative for Dispensing Medical Marijuana: State Stores

[Opinion of Michael R. Grothman] On Aug. 14, I attended the Newtown Borough Council meeting. My reason for attending was a concern over a possible medical marijuana [MMJ] clinic being placed on State Street in Newtown Borough town center. I am in favor of the use of cannabis for medical purposes, including opioid addiction, and I am not the type of person to say “not in my backyard.” That being said, I do have a safety concern and strongly feel that a town center is not the proper location for such a dispensary. People will be entering this establishment with large amounts of cash and will be leaving with marijuana.

Since medical marijuana is now used for opioid addiction, some of the customers using this facility will be vulnerable and could turn around and sell their marijuana. All of these examples, to my way of thinking, creates a policing problem for local law enforcement. I feel that if we are forced to have such a facility, the site for such a dispensary should be in a business park under high security where loitering could be controlled and suspicious activity more easily identified.

After the borough council meeting concluded, I had to ask myself why our state has to create an entirely new and independent delivery system for medical marijuana. Pennsylvania already has such a system in place and it is called a state store. In investigating this issue further, I found that the reason you have to use cash to purchase medical marijuana and your doctor cannot write a prescription for cannabis at your local pharmacy is because the federal government refuses to legalize marijuana for any type of use.

So here is my proposal: As a temporary measure, the state legislature should amend the medical marijuana legislation by requiring the Pennsylvania Department of Health to place its dispensaries in state stores rather than with private vendors. Meanwhile our congressional and senatorial representatives can propose legislation that will make cannabis legal for medical use on the federal level so that it can be prescribed by your doctor and purchased using either a health insurance drug plan or by credit card at a licensed pharmacy.

In closing, I would really like to know the opinion of the candidates running for state and federal office on this important issue.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

I have problems with this proposal and the underlying assumptions:


Mr. Grothman suggests that opioid-addicted patients will sell their medical marijuana to support their addiction. This is patently ridiculous for several reasons: (1) the price will be higher than black market prices and most medical insurance companies do not cover the costs of medical marijuana (MMJ), (2) the amounts are small, (3) many forms of MMJ (e.g., oils) do not cause a high, and, most importantly, (4) patients have purchased MMJ subsequent to a doctor's prescription in order to wean themselves off of opioids and have no interest in selling it others. 


Should the state sell MMJ as Mr. Grothman proposes? Absolutely not! The new state alcohol store on State Street in Newtown Borough is lovely and well-stocked but the prices are high! If there was more competition - i.e., private businesses - allowed to sell alcohol, the prices would be lower. I'm in favor of a "Wawa" for Wine alternative! Given that, why would I want a state store to sell MMJ? - a product that many people who suffer from pain and other medical conditions desperately need.


Also, as Mr. Grothman notes, "the federal government refuses to legalize marijuana for any type of use." Given that, I cannot imagine PA state stores selling a federally-illegal product. I suppose it is possible but not likely, especially when the state charges a 5 percent tax on the gross receipts received from the sale of medical marijuana by a grower/processor to a dispensary. And if recreational marijuana is legalized, the state could reap an estimated $581 million in annual state tax revenue (read “Legalizing Recreation Use of Marijuana in PA Could Mean $581M Windfall in State Taxes, Says PA Auditor General”).

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New Bipartisan Senate Legislation Aims to Spur Federal Response to PFAS Crisis

New Bipartisan Senate Legislation Aims to Spur Federal Response to PFAS Crisis | Public Health & Safety |

The contamination of drinking water and groundwater by toxic fluorinated compounds, known as PFAS chemicals, is a national crisis demanding a national response. Today, Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, which has one of the most severe problems, introduced bipartisan legislation to help the federal government investigate the extent of PFAS pollution and to clean up contaminated communities.

Stabenow, who championed bipartisan agreements to fix and upgrade Flint’s drinking water infrastructure after that city’s lead crisis, introduced two bills to expedite the government’s response to the PFAS emergency. One would accelerate the government’s  work to improve detection of PFAS contamination, and the other would improve cooperation between state regulators and the Pentagon to address PFAS contamination near military installations.

Stabenow’s first bill is the PFAS Detection Act of 2018, which would authorize $45 million over five years for the U.S. Geological Survey to develop advanced testing methods for finding PFAS chemicals in the environment. These advanced testing methods would be able to detect larger numbers of these chemicals at lower levels. The bill includes funds for USGS sampling of estuaries, lakes, streams, springs, wells, wetlands and soil for PFAS chemicals.

Senators Gary Peters, D-Mich.; Tom Carper, D-Del.; and Mike Rounds, R-S.D., are co-sponsoring the bill.  

The second bill, the PFAS Accountability Act of 2018, urges the Department of Defense to cooperate with states as PFAS contamination is detected in communities near federal installations.  The legislation will facilitate testing, monitoring, removal and remediation when these chemicals are detected in the water and soil.

Senators Gary Peters, D-Mich.; Tom Carper, D-Del.; Bill Nelson, D-Fla.; Marco Rubio, R-Fla.; Maggie Hassan, D-N.H.; Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.; and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., have signed on as co-sponsors of the PFAS Accountability Act of 2018.

“Many Americans are surprised and outraged to learn that PFAS chemicals are in their bodies,” said David Andrews, Ph.D., a senior scientist at EWG. “These chemicals are detected in our blood and drinking water almost every time someone tests for them. The Environmental Protection Agency’s current guidelines for PFAS levels in drinking water are based on outdated science and woefully underestimate the risks posed to human health.”

johnmacknewtown's insight:

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

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Software Problems Halt Medical Marijuana Sales in Pa, Again. 

The chronically glitchy computer system that forms the backbone of Pennsylvania's medical marijuana program crashed Thursday morning, causing several dispensaries to halt sales and turn away patients.


The software company MJ Freeway was awarded a $10.4 million contract by the Pennsylvania Department of Health in 2017 to trace all of the state's medical cannabis commerce from "seed to sale." The Denver-based company tracks every plant that is grown, every sale that is recorded, and every patient and medical practitioner who participates in the program in Pennsylvania.


But MJ Freeway software has been plagued by hacks, hiccups, and data breaches since the launch of the program, according to users.


"There have been many issues with the MJ Freeway software that have affected our ability to operate our business, but this isn't about us or an inconvenience, it's about the patients across the state of Pennsylvania that have been prevented from getting their medicine and that is simply unacceptable," said Trent Hartley, cofounder of Cresco Yeltrah, which operates a grow house and three dispensaries in Western Pennsylvania.


"Can you imagine going to a Walgreens or CVS to get your medicine and being told you couldn't get it because the computer system was down?"


A spokeswoman for MJ Freeway said an "enhancement" to the software was released overnight.

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Law Firm Opposes Proposed Medical Marijuana Dispensary on State Street in Newtown Borough

A Newtown Borough law firm is publicly expressing its strong opposition to a proposed medical marijuana dispensary down the road from its offices on State Street.


A company called 31 State Street LLC has submitted an application to the Pennsylvania Department of Health to open a dispensary in the borough. The application is currently pending. As the name indicates, the dispensary is proposed for 31 S. State Street, the site of the former Boccaccio Restaurant.


Gioconda Law Group, with an office at 301 S. State Street, submitted a letter to Newtown Borough officials on Monday expressing opposition to the proposal.


In a letter dated Aug. 20, the law firm states that selling marijuana even for medical purposes is still a federal crime. "Thus, it would appear that 31 State Street LLC is essentially planning on committing a series of federal crimes, and its request for a permit is tantamount to demanding Newtown Borough aid and abet the commission of its criminal operation."


The letter goes on to say that due to federal law, the proposed dispensary would not be legally able to accept credit card payments, therefore causing it to become a "likely target of dangerous criminals and would likely require the presence of armed guards at its facility at all times."


Law firm representatives conclude the letter by saying if the borough holds hearings on the application, they would like to have a chance to present evidence and argument.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

At an August 13, 2018, Newtown Borough Council meeting, the proposed ordinance was passed without any changes. It was noted at the meeting that this ordinance would NOT apply to Restore Integrative Wellness Center and Chroniceuticals, LLC, which has already applied to open a medical marijuana dispensary on South Street under zoning rules for a retail pharmacy (see story here).

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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 & Safety |

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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Newtown Ambulance Squad Awarded $112,000 State Grant for New "State-of-the-Art" Ambulance

Newtown Ambulance Squad Awarded $112,000 State Grant for New "State-of-the-Art" Ambulance | Public Health & Safety |

The Pennsylvania Department of Health grant will help pay for a “state-of-the-art” ambulance for the squad.


The Newtown Ambulance Squad was awarded a $112,000 state Health Department Grant Wednesday toward the purchase of a new ambulance.


Along with service fees and Newtown Township funding, the emergency squad will buy a “state-of-the-art” emergency vehicle “to respond with advanced lifesaving services,” a news release from State Rep. Perry Warren’s office states.


“The Newtown Board of Supervisors increased the squad’s funding in 2018 [read “Supervisors Weigh in on Tax Increase”]. That funding, coupled with this grant, will enable the squad to provide increased emergency medical services to our residents,” Warren said.


“We are really appreciative of the commonwealth and Representative Warren for assisting us with this grant,” , Newtown Ambulance Squad Chief of Operations Evan Resnikoff said.

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September 2018 Newtown Police Calls Report

September 2018 Newtown Police Calls Report | Public Health & Safety |

Interim Police Chief Jason Harris presented the Calls Report for September 2018 at the October 10, 2018, Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting. In September, the Newtown Police Department responded to 1,423 total calls, 238 (17%) of which were in Wrightstown Township (Newtown Police provides services to both Newtown Township and Wrightstown).


More details, including info on traffic citations, here.

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It May Take Lawsuits to Stop the Elcon Toxic Waste Incinerator

It May Take Lawsuits to Stop the Elcon Toxic Waste Incinerator | Public Health & Safety |

A standing room only crowd of about 50 people packed Bordentown City’s Carslake Community Center on Wednesday night to hear from officials and nonprofits opposed to Elcon, a hazardous waste treatment center proposed to be built in Falls, Bucks County, across the Delaware River.


Environmental groups and representatives from Bordentown City and Township spent about 90 minutes relaying information and concerns about the facility, which would treat up to 193,000 tons of hazardous and pharmaceutical waste annually.


But in a question and answer session that followed, former New Jersey assemblyman and city Mayor Joseph Malone urged the groups to focus on a specific strategy. And by the end of the night, many were talking of potential legal action.


“I would seriously urge that the leadership of the city and township sit down and strategize as to exactly how you’re going to move forward ... It’s going to take a serious effort,” Malone said. “If you don’t have your strategy ahead of them, you’re going to lose.”


The Elcon proposal is now in its fourth year, and appears to be within sight of the finish line. After several false starts in which its application materials were rejected by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the agency stated in July that Elcon had provided all the needed documents and that it would engage in a 10-month technical review. That means the company could clear its highest hurdle, DEP review, by May. [Read “Department of Environmental Protection Gives Green Light to Elcon Hazardous Waste Treatment Facility Near the Delaware River in Falls”.]


The groups, along with Bordentown City Deputy Mayor John Brodowski and Bordentown Township Mayor Steve Benowitz, floated various ideas during the meeting. Mentioned on several occasions were renewed efforts to reach out to surrounding townships on both sides of the river and build a coalition. Also discussed was an effort to contact state lawmakers to revive previous efforts to pass resolutions.


“The technical opposition ... should be very helpful in developing a further legal argument,” Brodowski said. “The public pressure is important, resolutions are important, but as mentioned several times it will most likely come down to a legal fight.”


Further Reading:Elcon Toxic Waste Incinerator: Déjà vu All Over Again

johnmacknewtown's insight:

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. Perhaps this resolution should be amended to include new evidence for harmful claims and updated with new information to make it stronger. This, IMHO, would help get the issue before the public again and reaffirm Newtown’s opposition to this incinerator.

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Council Rock Gets $20K Grant To Prevent, Reduce School Violence

Council Rock Gets $20K Grant To Prevent, Reduce School Violence | Public Health & Safety |

Council Rock School District has received $20,000 in funding from the state to help reduce and prevent violence in schools, officials announced on Thursday.

The money will be used for a number of programs, including improved anti-violence efforts involving schools, local law enforcement, parents, and community organizations, the state said.

Details on exactly what these programs will look like have not yet been made available.

johnmacknewtown's curator insight, October 5, 7:55 AM

IMHO, this money should be used to support student lobbying lawmakers for better gun control measures such as thus proposed by a Newtown Twp Resolution passed not too long ago:“Newtown Township Passes Gun Safety Resolution After Emotional Student Testimony”.

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Court Rules Navy Can be Sued by Local Residents for PFAS Water Contamination Claims

Court Rules Navy Can be Sued by Local Residents for PFAS Water Contamination Claims | Public Health & Safety |

After two years of court losses, a federal appeals court ruling poked holes in a federal immunity defense as local residents seek to sue over local water contamination.


A federal appeals court in Philadelphia ruled Tuesday that Bucks and Montgomery County residents can proceed with claims over water contamination near area military bases, reversing two years’ worth of legal setbacks and what had looked like a watertight immunity defense for the U.S. Navy.


“I think it’s a very important principle for holding the government accountable for its pollution,” said Mark Cuker, attorney with the Cuker Law Firm and counsel for the Giovanni family of Warrington.


A trio of justices on the court of appeals for the Third Circuit were tasked with deciding the fate of two similar cases, each of which requested the Navy provide for medical monitoring for the plaintiffs, who allegedly had been exposed to toxic perfluorinated chemicals, or PFAS, in their drinking water. The chemicals are ingredients of firefighting foams that were used for decades at a trio of current and former military bases in the area, and eventually contaminated the water of approximately 70,000 residents in Warminster, Warrington and Horsham. The towns have since worked to purify their water of the chemicals.



Local Officials on PFAS/PFOA Contamination of Water (video)


Horsham and Warminster township officials tell the EPA and the US military that their residents should not have pay for the remediation that was necessary to supply to their residents water uncontaminated with PFAS and PFOA when the cause of the original contamination by these chemicals was known to be the US government. They made their comments at an EPA PFAS Community Stakeholder Meeting in Horsham PA, ob July 25, 2018.

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Perry Warren & PA House Democratic Policy Committee  Look at Ways to Recruit and Retain EMS Volunteers

Perry Warren & PA House Democratic Policy Committee  Look at Ways to Recruit and Retain EMS Volunteers | Public Health & Safety |

State Rep. Perry Warren, D-31, of Newtown Borough, headed a House Democratic Policy Committee on Thursday morning at the Yardley-Makefield fire station off Stony Hill Road in Lower Makefield to hear those concerns and discuss solutions. Joining him were two fellow Democratic state representatives, and state and local officials with knowledge of the recurring difficulties EMS providers face.


Funding and staffing are the two areas where most emergency service providers are hurting, said Dylan Ferguson, director of the Bureau of Emergency Medical Services with the state Department of Health.


Since 2014, about 17,000 emergency medical technicians allowed their certifications to expire, Ferguson said, including 691 technicians in Bucks, many of whom resided in the county’s most-populated areas. Of those letting their certifications expire and leaving the field, Ferguson said 65 percent are under age 40 and 44 percent are under age 30.


“Anecdotally, we hear story after story of individuals proceeding to nursing school, physician’s assistant school and things of that nature,” he said. “That all relates back to the funding aspect, because those professions are able to pay higher wages.”


Keeping up with national guidelines for replacing equipment also can create a “huge cost” for the emergency services, said Glenn Forsyth, fire chief of Newtown Township’s Emergency Services Department.


Forsyth cited the change in costs he’s seen for fire trucks over the years, from $82,000 in 1978 to $652,000 in 2010.


And it’s not as though the need for EMS has decreased, said Evan Resnikoff, president of the Bucks County EMS Chiefs’ Association and Newtown Ambulance Squad.


Resnikoff said the number of emergency calls providers answered increased by nearly 20,000 calls in the last 10 years, including 55,000 calls in 2017 — the busiest year on record, he said.


One “constant problem” for providers statewide is the number of residents who do not reimburse providers for services rendered, instead pocketing the checks from insurance companies, Resnikoff said. He added that Newtown Ambulance Squad has lost over $100,000 this year as a result.


Warren, who serves on the House Insurance Committee, said members are scheduled to vote Monday on advancing Senate Bill 1003, which could help alleviate that problem by requiring insurance companies to reimburse EMS agencies when volunteers are called out to provide care, rather than just when they transport a patient to the hospital.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Evan Resnikoff discussed the need for solutions to the crisis facing emergency medical service agencies. See the video of his remarks at this meeting here:

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CDC Has Not Yet Selected Pennsylvania for PFAS Blood Tests

CDC Has Not Yet Selected Pennsylvania for PFAS Blood Tests | Public Health & Safety |

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, a sub-agency of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Thursday that Bucks and Montgomery communities impacted by chemical exposure have not yet been selected for a new initiative that would sample the blood of residents.


On Sept. 10, this news organization reported that Pennsylvania communities would be selected for the program, which will involve testing the blood of residents in eight to 15 communities impacted by PFAS across the country. The chemicals, short for poly- and perfluorinated compounds, were used for decades in a variety of products, including firefighting foams at military bases in Bucks and Montgomery counties. They have since been linked to various potential health impacts, such as high cholesterol, ulcerative colitis, reproductive issues and some cancers.


After publication of the story, agency spokeswoman Taka Allende sent an email stating that Pennsylvania has not yet been selected for the program, contrary to what the article reported. The discrepancy stemmed from the agency’s use of the term “exposure assessments,” which is given to blood testing efforts, in communications with this news organization. Bucks and Montgomery communities impacted by the chemicals already are engaged in PFAS exposure assessments that began last winter, as part of a separate effort funded by the CDC. A sister program is underway in New York.


Whether Pennsylvania is officially included as one of the eight to 15 sites could be significant because the outcomes of those assessments will be among “selection criteria” used to determine if the sites will be included in an even more robust health study, [agency spokeswoman Taka Allende] said. That effort, required by law to be completed by about 2024, will assess whether the chemicals in the bodies of residents actually caused illnesses. Communities left out of that assessment would risk never learning whether their exposure to the chemicals harmed their health.

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Injury & Death from Touching Fentanyl is a Myth, Says U.S. Customs and Border Protection Training Video

Injury & Death from Touching Fentanyl is a Myth, Says U.S. Customs and Border Protection Training Video | Public Health & Safety |

The [U.S. Customs and Border Protection] on Thursday released a safety training video for emergency responders that aims to dispel myths about the risks of minor exposure to fentanyl, the powerful synthetic opioid.


"One myth is that touching any amount of fentanyl is likely to cause severe illness or injury or even death. And that's just not true," David Tarantino, a senior medical advisor to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, says in the seven-minute film. "Incidental skin contact — it can be washed off with soap and water."


The video, developed by 10 federal agencies in collaboration with medical, public health and occupational safety organizations, was accompanied by a sheet of safety recommendations for first responders. Like the video, the paper says that protective equipment — gloves, masks, and eye shields — can prevent exposure to fentanyl.


Claims that such gear won't protect against fentanyl is "another myth," Tarantino said.


Charles McKay, president of the American College of Medical Toxicology and a participant in the video release event, said: "We know that first responders are concerned. We don't want them to be paralyzed by fears that are unwarranted in the vast majority of situations."


See the video here.


Further Reading:

johnmacknewtown's insight:

EMS workers should use proper precautions when responding to drug overdoses, but should not be fooled into believing that merely touching fentanyl can cause them to overdose.

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“Dry Leaf” Medical Marijuana is a “Game-Changer” for PA Patients

“Dry Leaf” Medical Marijuana is a “Game-Changer” for PA Patients | Public Health & Safety |

Since the state's medical marijuana program launched in mid-February, patients have grumbled about the limited selection of relatively expensive cannabis oils, pills and tinctures. Flower sales were prohibited.

The introduction of what the state Department of Health calls "dry leaf" into the mix will slash prices. It also provides a more familiar form of the medicine for patients who may be put off by the industry's extraordinarily powerful waxes, shatter, and budder concentrates.

"The price point of the flower will be less than the concentrates because it doesn't have to go through additional processing," said Luke Schultz, a patient advocate who serves on the state's medical marijuana advisory board. "We hope it will be at or slightly above what black market prices are, because the program should be designed to discourage people going to the black market."

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Dry leaf may be administered in different ways, however, the state simply doesn't allow it to be sold as a cigarette.


Previously, the law allowed the sale of medical marijuana only in oils, pills, gels and liquids, but prevented dispensaries from selling marijuana that is designed to be smoked (read “Pennsylvania State Medical Marijuana Board Unanimously Recommends Expansion of Law to Include Treatment for Opioid Addiction!”).

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For Lack of a Toxicologist, State Effort to Develop PFOA Standard is Stalled!

For Lack of a Toxicologist, State Effort to Develop PFOA Standard is Stalled! | Public Health & Safety |

Pennsylvania officials said they’re having trouble finding a toxicologist to set a state drinking water standard for a toxic chemical for the first time. State Rep. Tom Murt says he’s still pushing a plan to set a standard through legislation.


“It is a big deal,” said David Hess, a former secretary of the state Department of Environmental Protection. “There’s definitely a need.”


Hess runs PA Environment Digest, a website tracking daily environmental goings-on in Harrisburg. A meeting of the DEP’s Environmental Quality Board on Tuesday piqued his attention, as the department’s staff offered an update on their efforts to consider setting a state standard for PFOA, a toxic chemical found in elevated levels in some local water supplies in recent years.


“Due to the lack of guidance from the EPA, Pennsylvania, which like many states has never established (drinking water limits), is working to build the personnel and technical infrastructure to do so from scratch,” Neil Shader, DEP press secretary added. “This involves a significant expansion of program capacity.”


Shader said the position was re-posted and is open until mid-September. An online ad for the position lists the potential salary range as $95,120 to $141,399 and requires a doctorate and at least three years of experience as a professional toxicologist.


johnmacknewtown's insight:

Further Reading:

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Guest Opinion: We Don't Need Another Superfund Site - Stop ELCON!

Guest Opinion: We Don't Need Another Superfund Site - Stop ELCON! | Public Health & Safety |

Of the 1,343 superfund cleanup sites still remaining, Pennsylvania has 94.


ELCON Inc. currently seeks approval from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to build a wastewater treatment plant for chemically contaminated water (read “Elcon Reapplies to DEP for Toxic Waste Facility Located Next to Delaware River”). This is a perfect recipe for a superfund of the future. It will be built about a mile from the Delaware River and our most precious source for life: water.


ELCON’s owners assure us that the waste-water they treat will be “evaporated” by special means and will not “escape” into the air we breathe. But how air is “contained” is a mystery to me. The list of harmful chemicals is so long and the process is so complex that only specialized chemists/scientists can really understand it all. How often will the EPA inspect the premises? Will the results of those inspections be made public or kept “under-wraps”; as is so often the case.


Even more concerning, and often overlooked, is that 20 tanker-trucks a day, from parts unknown, will travel through our area carrying this chemically contaminated water. Just like pipelines, no matter how companies reassure us, there will be accidents.


Will the trucks be owned and operated by ELCON or by outside contractors? If not ELCON, the company will not be held responsible to clean-up or pay for the clean-up of spills.


Statistics cited by Sharon Furlong in her letter (Aug. 5), dispute the argument that projects such as ELCON’s create valuable, long-term jobs. With all the potential for irreversible catastrophe, after completion of the building, what long-term jobs remain? Certainly, some to watch over the gauges, knobs and switches on its built-in technology, and, of course, “great-paying” jobs for guards, grounds-keepers and janitors. Not a real windfall.


We’re selling our souls to the devil while we kill ourselves, our children, and our children’s children.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Further Reading:

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Kayak-tivists Call for 'Full' Fracking Ban in Delaware River Basin

Kayak-tivists Call for 'Full' Fracking Ban in Delaware River Basin | Public Health & Safety |

A group of demonstrators took their self-powered watercraft to the Delaware River on Tuesday morning, along with a banner carrying their message to “Ban Fracking and Frack Waste” in the river’s basin. A small contingent also took a three-hour excursion up the Crosswicks Creek in Bordetown, New Jersey, forgoing an earlier plan to cross the Delaware River to Bristol Borough due to an ominous weather forecast.


The demonstration is the latest iteration of a nearly decade-long effort to ban hydraulic fracturing, a natural gas drilling technique, in the basin. The focus is directed on the Delaware River Basin Commission, an inter-state regulatory agency whose five-member voting body comprises the governors of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and New York, along with a federal government representative.


The DRBC is currently mulling regulations on fracking, which has been de facto banned in the basin since the commission punted on the issue in 2010 following intense public pressure.


Draft regulations presented in late 2017 would ban the use of hydraulic fracturing to reach natural gas deposits, a technique that has propagated throughout much of central and western Pennsylvania over the past decade. But they would allow for the regulated importation of waste from fracking operations elsewhere into the basin for treatment, and for clean water to be withdrawn from the basin for use in drilling operations.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

At a March 28, 2018, public meeting, the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors approved Resolution 2018-R-10, which calls upon the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) to “enact a complete and permanent ban on natural gas development and hydraulic fracturing and all related activities (including drilling, fracking, wastewater processing and discharges from and water withdrawals for drilling and fracking operations) throughout the basin.” More on that and video comments before the Board of Sharon Furlong, spokesperson for the Bucks Environmental Action Group and for Bucks County Sierra Club, here.


PRESENTATION: September 13, 2018, 6:45 PM - 8:45 PM, Free Library of Northampton Township, 25 Upper Holland Rd, Richboro, Pennsylvania 18954


Mr. John Yagecic, the DRBC manager of Water Quality Assessment, will describe how the agency monitors water quality. He will discuss the health of the Delaware River. He will share some case studies about managing water quality and discuss what’s In store for future water quality management. He will also address recent quality events such as the NJDEP advisories about consumption of fish caught in the Lower Delaware Watershed (read "New Jersey Updates Fish Consumption Advisories for Lower Delaware River Watershed, Expands Testing to Include PFAS").

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