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Newtown Township Board of Supervisors Hires Philadelphia Captain as Newtown's Next Police Chief

Newtown Township Board of Supervisors Hires Philadelphia Captain as Newtown's Next Police Chief | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

The township will soon have a new police chief.

 

At the Jan. 9 meeting, the board of supervisors hired Philadelphia police captain John Hearn to head the township's 31-officer police department.

 

In a quick vote without discussion or debate, the board unanimously approved an employment agreement with Hearn.

 

Voting for the police chief’s contract were: Chairman Phil Calabro, Vice Chairman Linda Bobrin, along with Supervisors John Mack, Kyle Davis and Dennis Fisher.

 

Although Hearn’s name was not publicly disclosed at the supervisor’s meeting, BucksLocalNews.comhas confirmed that he will take over the position sometime this spring after he wraps up his job with the Philadelphia Police Department, where he has worked for nearly 30 years.

 

Once on board in Newtown, the 52-year-old Hearn, who lives in Northampton Township, will oversee 31 officers, commanders and civilian staff members along with a $5.27-million budget this year.

He’ll replace former Chief Rick Pasqualini, who retired in July. In the interim, Lt. Jason Harris has been serving as acting police chief.

 

Capt. Hearn’s resume is both extensive and impressive.

Since 2017, he has been the commanding officer of the 14th District in Northwest Philadelphia, which covers the Chestnut Hill and Germantown sections, as well as East and West Mt. Airy.

Prior to that, he was a lieutenant for 12 years with the Highway Patrol, a specialized unit in the Philadelphia Police Department.

 

While there, he had extensive experience with logistics, security and training.

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Public Health & Safety
These Scoops are excerpts from articles published in local newspapers and other sources. They focus on public health issues such as opioid addiction, water and air quality, emergency services, traffic, crime, etc. 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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John Mack Lists the Air Pollutants the ELCON Hazardous Waste Treatment Plant Would Be Allowed to Emit

At the March 13, 2019, Board of Supervisors meeting, John Mack called for the Board to re-affirm its opposition to the ELCON hazardous waste treatment plant proposed to be built in nearby Falls Township. Mack listed all the air pollutants that the PA Department of Environmental "Protection" may allow to be emitted from the plant.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Further Reading:

  •  “Elcon Reapplies to DEP for Toxic Waste Facility Located Next to Delaware River”; http://sco.lt/88Ru3l
  • “A Crowded Meeting Pits Citizens Against the PA DEP Regarding the Elcon Proposal”; http://sco.lt/56CrQ0
  • “It May Take Lawsuits to Stop the Elcon Toxic Waste Incinerator”; http://sco.lt/68dz7p
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Pentagon “Pushes” U.S. EPA for Weaker Standards on PFAS Contaminating Drinking Water. As If Pushing Was Necessary!

Pentagon “Pushes” U.S. EPA for Weaker Standards on PFAS Contaminating Drinking Water. As If Pushing Was Necessary! | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

[Excerpted from a report by Eric Lipton from Washington, and Julie Turkewitz from Denver.]

 

Facing billions of dollars in cleanup costs, the Pentagon is pushing the Trump administration to adopt a weaker standard for groundwater pollution caused by chemicals that have commonly been used at military bases and that contaminate drinking water consumed by millions of Americans.

 

The Pentagon’s position pits it against the Environmental Protection Agency, which is seeking White House signoff for standards that would most likely require expensive cleanup programs at scores of military bases, as well as at NASA launch sites, airports and some manufacturing facilities.

 

Despite its deregulatory record under President Trump, the E.P.A. has been seeking to stick with a tougher standard for the presence of the chemicals in question in the face of the pressure from the military to adopt a far looser framework. [Is the EPA serious? Read “Editorial: EPA Spins Its Wheels on Setting Maximum Contaminant Level for PFAS”; http://sco.lt/5Inazo and “Guest Opinion: EPA Playing Us for Fools Regarding PFAS in Local Drinking Water, Says Warminster Resident”; http://sco.lt/5Inazo].

 

How the administration resolves the fight has potentially enormous consequences for how the United States is going to confront what a top official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called “one of the most seminal public health challenges” of the coming decades.

 

PFAS, as the chemicals are most commonly called, are present in a vast array of products, including food packaging, nonstick pans, clothing and furniture. They have been linked in recent years to cancers, immune suppression and other serious health problems.

 

But since the 1970s, the Defense Department has been one of the most frequent users of PFAS. The chemicals are a key ingredient in firefighting foam employed at bases nationwide, with military crews spraying large amounts during training exercises (and on emergency calls) into unlined basins that drain into the soil and then into groundwater.

 

Further study by the Pentagon concluded that the PFAS contamination had turned up in drinking water or groundwater in at least 126 of [401 known military facilities in the United States firefighting foam was used], with some of them involving systems that provide water to tens of thousands of people both on the bases and in nearby neighborhoods. In some instances, the Defense Department is providing temporary replacement water supplies.

 

The E.P.A., [Senator Thomas R. Carper, Democrat of Delaware] said, proposed that contaminated sites be cleaned up to a level equivalent to the E.P.A.’s current drinking water health advisory of 70 parts per trillion of PFOS and PFOA, citing information provided to his office.

 

But the Pentagon, in a report to Congress last year, indicated that it believed that an appropriate cleanup level for PFAS would be 380 parts per trillion, or nearly six times the proposed E.P.A. advisory drinking water level. That 380 parts per trillion is also more than 30 times a level suggested as safe for drinking water by the Department of Health and Human Service’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. (One part per trillion is equivalent to one drop of water in 20 Olympic-size swimming pools.)

 

The Pentagon has agreed to clean up groundwater to the 70 parts per trillion standard, if contamination of either of the chemicals at a site is found above 400 parts per trillion, according to Mr. Carper’s letter. That would mean many sites that would have been subject to cleanup requirements based on the E.P.A.’s original proposal would now be able to avoid such remediation efforts — and costs — potentially polluting drinking water in the future.

 

“Many of these sites have languished for years, even decades. How can these Americans prosper if they cannot live, learn, or work in healthy environments?” Mr. Carper said in his letter, quoting Andrew Wheeler, the E.P.A. administrator, in his own words during Mr. Wheeler’s recent confirmation hearing, as Mr. Carper urged Mr. Wheeler not to give in to pressure from the Pentagon.

 

“Please take prompt action to finalize groundwater clean-up guidelines for PFAS that live up to your stated objectives and reject efforts by other federal agencies to weaken them,” Mr. Carper wrote.

 

Frustration is only increasing across the United States as the Trump administration moves slowly to confront the challenge.

 

Just Wednesday, the Vermont Senate voted 29 to 0 in favor of legislation that would create a new limit on PFAS in drinking water that at 20 parts per trillion is far tougher than even the current E.P.A. drinking water advisory standard. The legislation will also require annual testing by public water systems in the state.

 

In Oscoda, Mich., a community near the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base, use of the chemicals has polluted drinking water, lakes, rivers and wildlife, and toxic foam now froths on community beaches. The town and the state are battling with the military over how much cleanup should be done.

 

Aaron Weed, an Air Force veteran who is now Oscoda’s town supervisor, called the response “disgraceful.”

 

“It’s just been constant pushback,” he said. “‘It’s not a big deal, it’s going to cost too much, the technology isn’t there,’ Every cause they can think of.”

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House Bill 424, the "Warm Handoff Bill," Aims to Improve Access to Addiction Treatment

House Bill 424, the "Warm Handoff Bill," Aims to Improve Access to Addiction Treatment | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

A House committee chaired by state Rep. Gene DiGirolamo heard testimony this week on two bills that would establish an online registry to track available beds in detox and rehabilitation facilities, as well as a warm handoff program to connect people who have survived an overdose with treatment.

 

The bills, both sponsored by Rep. Doyle Heffley, R-Carbon County, would establish an online registry to track available beds in detox and rehabilitation facilities, as well as create a warm handoff program to connect people who have survived an overdose with treatment.

 

“Obviously this is an issue that affects every county, every part of the state, rural and urban, and it is something that we need to continue to address,” Heffley added before introducing several individuals who provided testimony on House Bill 596, which would establish the bed registry, and House Bill 424, the warm handoff bill, which was inspired by the Blue Guardian program in Lehigh County.

 

Under Blue Guardian, police and other first responders notify the program when they respond to an opioid overdose. Then later, an officer and a certified recovery specialist, specially trained individuals who often have personal experience with addiction, visit the person to follow up and discuss treatment options.

 

The county currently is working on expanding the BCARES program to make sure recovery specialists are available 24/7, according to Diane Rosati, executive director of the Bucks County Drug and Alcohol Commission.

 

Data show more than 90 percent of people agree to go to the hospital after an overdose, Rosati said. And for the people who don’t agree, first responders leave behind information kits and doses of naloxone, the opioid overdose reversal drug.

 

Adding a program like Blue Guardian could strengthen the efforts, Rosati said, and she believes some police departments in the county would be in favor of it, as would the county.

 

[Read more about the success of the warm handoff approach here: http://sco.lt/5naSdl]

 

Further Reading:

  • “AMA Analysis Shows Mixed Results in PA’s Effort to Combat Opioid Epidemic”; http://sco.lt/5naSdl
  • “PA State Rep. Gene DiGirolamo Urges Governor to Improve Access to Opioid Addiction Treatment: Calls for 10% Tax on Sales of Opioids”; http://sco.lt/5OCnYG
johnmacknewtown's insight:

Merely leaving behind information kits and Narcan for overdose victims who don't agree to go to hospital is not adequate IMHO. With followup by trained professionals and a better way to track available treatment beds, more lives can be saved. I know that our police officers who may rescue the same person on multiple occasions would welcome help from programs like Blue Guardian.

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A Crowded Meeting Pits Citizens Against the PA DEP Regarding the Elcon Proposal

A Crowded Meeting Pits Citizens Against the PA DEP Regarding the Elcon Proposal | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

The majority of a three-hour meeting on the controversial hazardous waste treatment plant was spent with audience members asking questions of Department of Environmental Protection officials.

 

The meeting, hosted by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, closely mirrored one held at the same location in 2015 when the proposal was still in its infancy. Dozens of speakers professed their concern over potential toxic emissions from the facility, the potential for an accidental spill at the facility or area roadways, and frustration with the efficacy of state environmental regulations.

 

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.

 

Over the past several years, the proposal has ping-ponged, as Elcon submitted proposal materials and the DEP temporarily rejected them for deficiencies. But the latest version, submitted last July, cleared an initial bar, putting DEP on track to issue an intent to approve or deny in May.

 

James Wentzel, the DEP’s regional manager for the waste management program, said Elcon’s application materials say it would not take radioactive, reactive, fracking, or solid PCB waste, as well as no dioxin or cyanide waste. With the exception of some specific types of medical wastes, the facility could take any other type of waste.

 

Several speakers expressed concern over the DEP’s lack of discretionary powers, and Cain consistently redirected them to elected officials. Concerns over spills on area roadways and zoning should be directed to township level officials, while concerns over state and federal regulations should be directed to lawmakers at appropriate levels, Cain said.

 

Cain detailed what’s left in the Elcon process. The facility has three applications before the DEP: one for waste, one for air, and one for stormwater. The waste permit is the most robust, with the DEP slated to make a proposed recommendation by May 26. That kicks off a 45-day public comment period, after which the DEP will have a discretionary amount of time to create a response document that would be published simultaneously with its final decision.

 

Further Reading:

  •  “Elcon Reapplies to DEP for Toxic Waste Facility Located Next to Delaware River”; http://sco.lt/88Ru3l
  • “It May Take Lawsuits to Stop the Elcon Toxic Waste Incinerator”; http://sco.lt/68dz7p
johnmacknewtown's insight:

I was surprised about the amount of toxic pollutants the proposed permit would allow to be released into the air. Proposed “emission limits” in the application: nitrogen oxides – 23.4 tons per year; carbon monoxide – 36.6 tons per year; sulfur oxides – 24.2 tons per year; volatile organic compounds – 10.1 tons per year; particulate matter – 10.5 tons per year; for hydrochloric acid – 6.3 tons per year!

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Newtown Seeks to Hire FireFighter

Newtown Seeks to Hire FireFighter | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

$63,981 Starting Salary, plus Excellent Benefits

 

Details here: http://bit.ly/EMSjobPost

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Got Unused Opioid Pills? Find Where to Dispose of Them and Other Drugs Using Google Maps on Your Phone. Protect the Environment, Help Save Lives!

Got Unused Opioid Pills? Find Where to Dispose of Them and Other Drugs Using Google Maps on Your Phone. Protect the Environment, Help Save Lives! | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

Just a little over one year ago, HHS held the HHS Opioid Code-a-Thon, a challenge competition to develop data-driven solutions to address the opioid overdose epidemic. Today, born from a winning solution at the Code-a-Thon, a new feature on Google Maps will make it easier to find drug disposal sites for unused prescription drugs.

 

The Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is designed to help facilitate the return of unused or expired prescription drugs and to reduce the number of instances of opioid misuse. While these events serve to increase awareness –the DEA and its local partners collected 1.85 million pounds of returned medications/drugs at their events in 2018 – a single day is not nearly enough to address the scope of misuse in our communities. Regular access to drug disposal sites year-round is essential. Today marks a critical step as Google launches a pilot exit disclaimer icon to make drug disposal sites available on Google Maps.

 

This pilot on Google Maps makes it easier for Americans to find year-round options to dispose of unwanted prescription drugs – making every day a Take Back Day. Now, by searching “drug drop off near me” in Google, you will find drug disposal sites near you.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day will be Saturday, April 27, 2019 from 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. National Take-Back Day is a safe, convenient, and responsible way to dispose of unused or expired prescription drugs.

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Guest Opinion: "EPA Playing Us for Fools" Regarding PFAS in Local Drinking Water, Says Warminster Resident

Guest Opinion: "EPA Playing Us for Fools" Regarding PFAS in Local Drinking Water, Says Warminster Resident | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

Thursday marks the third anniversary of when firefighting foam sprang to life in a “special report” on the front page of local papers. The top of page one shouted, “Unclear and uncertain danger,” announcing a water crisis in Bucks and Montgomery counties that continues unabated. The latest headline accuses the EPA of spinning wheels.

 

In 2015, the Department of the Navy posted a small notice for a public information session set during a workday regarding contamination at the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove in Horsham and the Johnsville Naval Air Warfare Center in Warminster. We locals were used to this — we all knew the bases were Superfund sites.

 

We’ve got many sick friends and neighbors. As an A-10 Warthog flies and firefighting foam seeps, only 3 miles separate the two bases — both have tested at the highest levels in the nation.

 

This has long been known and artfully hidden from the public. The earliest concerns date to reports from Dupont in 1954. More than a decade ago, the National Fire Prevention Association’s Committee on firefighting foam stated that consumption of PFOA and PFOS was a death warrant.

 

Although the EPA lowered its “advisory” limit to 70 parts per trillion, ppt, Harvard University Chan School of Public Health said their research showed that the level should be 1 ppt. Richard Clapp, the leading researcher, spoke at the only meeting held in Warminster that was sponsored by the township’s Environmental Advisory Council. He told us that New Jersey’s limit of 14 ppt was closer to what was needed, but is still inadequate.

 

If we stop being mesmerized by the EPA, Navy and Department of Defense spinning wheels, we’ll realize that we’re being played for fools. Veterans have taken the brunt. Government strategy has been out of the same playbook that they use for traumatic brain injuries. They used it against Agent Orange claims, PTSD, shell shock and a host of other veteran issues.

 

Our answer now lies at the state level. We need to actively support Senate and House bills like Tom Murt’s — co-sponsored by Madeleine Dean and others — to set a 5 ppt limit for Pennsylvania. The Delaware Riverkeeper Network, DRN, submitted a similar petition for rulemaking to the Environmental Quality Board, EQB.

 

All our local legislators, Gov. Wolf and Sen. Casey are on our side. We, the people, just need to step it up. It’s our water, our health. Over 80,000 local residents and many veterans are depending on what we do. Let’s end the spinning wheels.

 

[Warminster resident Larry Menkes is the CEO of Veterans Green Jobs Initiative that finds green jobs for wounded warriors.]

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Further Reading:

  • “Editorial: EPA Spins Its Wheels on Setting Maximum Contaminant Level for PFAS”; http://sco.lt/5uSirA
  • “As EPA Launches National PFAS Plan, Pennsylvania Says Its People “Can’t Wait” for Federal Government & Launches Its Own Plan to Set Lower Health Limits for PFOA and PFOS”; http://sco.lt/7EkKRc
  • “Perfluorinated Compounds Detected in Newtown Township's Water Supply”; http://sco.lt/70ujU9
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Bucks, Montco Towns Don't Make PFAS Health Risk Assessment Site List

Bucks, Montco Towns Don't Make PFAS Health Risk Assessment Site List | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry on Thursday announced a list of communities where it will conduct exposure assessments for the toxic chemicals PFAS. Communities in Bucks and Montgomery counties were not included, but a local environmental organization representing residents is not concerned that it will affect their chances of being selected for a nationwide health study.

 

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry on Thursday announced a list of eight communities across the country where it will examine exposures to PFAS, “laying the groundwork” for a nationwide health study.

 

Communities in Bucks and Montgomery counties that have been affected by the toxic chemicals were not on the list. However, the agency, which is part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the exposure assessments will build on the results of a Pennsylvania Department of Health blood testing pilot program conducted in Horsham, Warrington and Warminster last year, as well as one in New York.

 

The agency has said the exposure assessments will be among the “selection criteria” for communities to be chosen for the nationwide health study, but they will not be a “prerequisite.”

 

For that reason, Joanne Stanton, a Warminster native who co-founded the local environmental organization Buxmont Coalition for Safer Water representing area communities, said she was not concerned about their chances of being selected for the nationwide health study.

 

The nationwide health study, which must be completed by about 2024, will examine whether exposures to PFAS actually caused health effects. Some studies have linked the chemicals to health effects such as high cholesterol, immunodeficiencies and some cancers.

 

The exposure assessments are expected to begin this year and continue through next year. All of the communities are near current or former military installations and were affected by PFAS in drinking water. Other factors included the levels and length of exposures and how many people might have been affected.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Further Reading:

  • “Perfluorinated Compounds Detected in Newtown Township's Water Supply”; http://sco.lt/70ujU9 
  • “Senators From BOTH Parties Press EPA to Develop Enforceable Standards Limiting PFOA and PFOS in Drinking Water”; http://sco.lt/8NQUwz 
  • “U.S. House Launches Bipartisan PFAS Task Force That Promises to Set Formal Drinking Water Standard for PFAS”; http://sco.lt/6JjI4P 
  • “NJ Department of Environmental Protection Set to Regulate PFOS, PFOA in Drinking Water. Safe Limits Will Be Much Lower Than Recommended by the PA DEP.”; http://sco.lt/63DJ8T 
  • “PFAS From Tainted Water on Military Bases My Be Spreading to Other Towns in Bucks, Montco”; http://sco.lt/7Lillp 
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As EPA Launches National PFAS Plan, Pennsylvania Says Its People “Can’t Wait” for Federal Government & Launches Its Own Plan to Set Lower Health Limits for PFOA and PFOS

As EPA Launches National PFAS Plan, Pennsylvania Says Its People “Can’t Wait” for Federal Government & Launches Its Own Plan to Set Lower Health Limits for PFOA and PFOS | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

Pennsylvania will begin the process of setting its own health limits for two toxic PFAS chemicals because it’s unclear when the federal government will set national standards, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) said late Thursday [February 14, 2019].

 

Responding to Thursday’s announcement by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that it will begin the process of setting maximum contaminant limits (MCLs) for PFOA and PFOS this year (listen to the briefing call), the DEP committed for the first time to laying the groundwork for a statewide standard for the chemicals.

 

“Pennsylvania will begin the process to set an MCL for PFOS and PFOA,” DEP spokesman Neil Shader wrote in an email. “To that end, the Department of Environmental Protection will be moving forward with a Request for Proposals to hire a consulting toxicologist to evaluate existing health studies with the ultimate goal of establishing a protective MCL for the state.”

 

Although the administration of Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf set up an “Action Team” of state officials to respond to PFAS contamination last September, it did not say then that setting a MCL would be part of the team’s mandate, and has not publicly set that goal until now.

 

Advocates for stricter limits on PFAS chemicals in drinking water say that MCLs are essential to protecting public health, and have questioned why Wolf’s team did not name the establishment of those limits as its primary goal.

 

Shader said officials have not decided what Pennsylvania’s MCL level might be but said it was likely to be lower than the EPA’s current health advisory limit of 70 parts per trillion. DEP is legally required to base a recommended MCL on “sound science” and to reach that conclusion independently of any other state or federal agency, he said.

 

Growing evidence of the PFAS risk to public health and the EPA’s longstanding failure to set national MCLs has prompted some states including New Jersey to set their own limits that are much stricter than the EPA’s health advisory level [see chart].

 

Mark Cuker, an environmental attorney, and member of the grassroots group Buxmont Coalition for Safer Water, says Pennsylvania should act quickly by consulting the science produced by New Jersey’s Drinking Water Quality Institute, a panel of scientists that advises the state’s DEP. The DWQI recommended much lower safety standards for PFOA and PFOS — 14 ppt and 13 ppt, respectively, than the EPA’s current advisory of 70 parts per trillion.

 

State Sen. Maria Collett (D-Bucks and Montgomery) welcomed the state’s PFAS plan but said she would continue to promote her two bills that would set an MCL for some of the chemicals and declare them a hazardous substances [Read “PA State Sen. Maria Collett to Introduce Bills to Lower Safe Levels of PFAS in Drinking Water”].

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Further Reading:

  • “Perfluorinated Compounds Detected in Newtown Township's Water Supply”; http://sco.lt/70ujU9
  • “Senators From BOTH Parties Press EPA to Develop Enforceable Standards Limiting PFOA and PFOS in Drinking Water”; http://sco.lt/8NQUwz
  • “U.S. House Launches Bipartisan PFAS Task Force That Promises to Set Formal Drinking Water Standard for PFAS”; http://sco.lt/6JjI4P
  • “NJ Department of Environmental Protection Set to Regulate PFOS, PFOA in Drinking Water. Safe Limits Will Be Much Lower Than Recommended by the PA DEP.”; http://sco.lt/63DJ8T
  • “PFAS From Tainted Water on Military Bases My Be Spreading to Other Towns in Bucks, Montco”; http://sco.lt/7Lillp
  • “EWG Report: Perfluorinated Pollutant (PFAS) Contamination of Water Spreading”; http://sco.lt/4xLDiD
  • “EPA, Department of Defense, White House Conspired to Put Clamps on Release of PFAS Safety Limits for Drinking Water, Says Union of Concerned Scientists”; http://sco.lt/87oNHN
  • “U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances Documents Call EPA’s PFAS Safety Numbers Into Question”; http://sco.lt/7umDCb
  • “Lower Makefield, Not Satisfied with PA American Water's Paid Ad, Seeks More Answers, Assurances in Wake of Water Emergency”; http://sco.lt/5Ojmbp
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Use of Strong Opioids by Americans to Treat Noncancer Pain More Than Doubled Since 2001

Use of Strong Opioids by Americans to Treat Noncancer Pain More Than Doubled Since 2001 | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

Prompted by a call from the National Academy of Medicine, then the Institute of Medicine, for improved national data on pain, a recent study provides new insights concerning pain trends and opioid use for pain management. Researchers used data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) to examine the impact of pain-related interference, a measure of pain’s impact on normal work activities, on people’s health status and health care use. MEPS is a nationally representative survey of the U.S. civilian, noninstitutionalized population.

 

Researchers showed that the number of U.S. adults age 18 and older suffering from at least one painful health condition increased substantially from 120.2 million (32.9 percent) in 1997/1998 to 178 million (41 percent) in 2013/2014. Furthermore, the use of strong opioids, like fentanyl, morphine, and oxycodone, for pain management among adults with severe pain-related interference more than doubled from 4.1 million (11.5 percent) in 2001/2002 to 10.5 million (24.3 percent) in 2013/2014. These are the findings of a comprehensive analysis of 18-year trends showing changes in the overall rates of noncancer pain prevalence and management.

 

The study showed that by 2013/2014, about one-third of individuals (68 million) with a painful health condition reported moderate or severe pain-related interference with normal work activities. The analysis of MEPS data looked specifically at noncancer painful health conditions.

 

The researchers also found that people with severe pain-related interference were more likely to use strong opioids, to have had four or more opioid prescriptions, and to have visited a doctor’s office six or more times for their pain compared to those with minimal pain-related interference.

 

As with other studies, this analysis showed an increase in the overall use of opioids between 1997 and 2014, with a peak use observed between 2005 and 2012. Since 2012, however, there has been a slight decrease in opioid use tied to a reduction in use of weak opioids and in the number of patients reporting only one opioid prescription

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Temple Researcher, Local Group Awarded Grant to Support Research Into Health Effects of PFAS in Drinking Water

Temple Researcher, Local Group Awarded Grant to Support Research Into Health Effects of PFAS in Drinking Water | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

A Temple University researcher has received a nearly $60,000 grant from the California-based Water Foundation to support a local environmental organization’s work in area communities affected by PFAS, as well as research into the toxic chemicals.

 

The Water Foundation’s work mainly focuses on water management in the West, but the grant was awarded to Dr. Resa M. Jones, associate professor and chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Temple University’s College of Public Health, who is partnering with the Buxmont Coalition for Safer Water.

 

The organization was formed last year by Hope Grosse and Joanne Stanton, who both grew up in Warminster near the former Naval Air Warfare Center and have been outspoken since the chemicals were found in drinking water in communities around the former base and two others nearby in Horsham.

 

Stanton said she and Gross are excited about the grant and the partnership with Jones. It will allow the organization to build its website, develop educational materials and do other work toward its vision for area communities to have “clean and safe drinking water, free from PFAS and other toxic chemicals; and for residents affected by local water contamination to have access to preventive health care including blood testing and biomonitoring.”

 

The grant also will support research by Jones on exposures and health effects in area communities. Jones said they want to contribute to and expand on existing research into health effects that already have been linked to the chemicals, as well as explore new or unique outcomes. They also plan to take into account factors like the length of time area residents were exposed, and at what levels.

 

“There’s been a lack of thinking about exposure across the lifespan,” Jones said. “Because of the cumulative impact of PFAS, we need to be considering that when looking at health and health-related outcomes. There are some challenges to that, but that would be something that we definitely want to be measuring.”

 

They hope to begin in the next several months.

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Association of Pharmaceutical Industry Marketing of Opioid Products With Mortality From Opioid-Related Overdoses

Association of Pharmaceutical Industry Marketing of Opioid Products With Mortality From Opioid-Related Overdoses | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

Question 

Importance  Prescription opioids are involved in 40% of all deaths from opioid overdose in the United States and are commonly the first opioids encountered by individuals with opioid use disorder. It is unclear whether the pharmaceutical industry marketing of opioids to physicians is associated with mortality from overdoses.

 

To what extent is pharmaceutical industry marketing of opioids to physicians associated with subsequent mortality from prescription opioid overdoses?

Findings 

In this population-based, cross-sectional study, $39.7 million in opioid marketing was targeted to 67 507 physicians across 2208 US counties between August 1, 2013, and December 31, 2015. Increased county-level opioid marketing was associated with elevated overdose mortality 1 year later, an association mediated by opioid prescribing rates; per capita, the number of marketing interactions with physicians demonstrated a stronger association with mortality than the dollar value of marketing.

Meaning 

The potential role of pharmaceutical industry marketing in contributing to opioid prescribing and mortality from overdoses merits ongoing examination.

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Residents Rekindle Elcon Waste Facility Opposition

Residents Rekindle Elcon Waste Facility Opposition | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

Fallsington Friends Meeting has seen its share of gatherings over the centuries. But its latest one had a definite modern twist, as about 60 area residents turned out Wednesday night to organize opposition to Elcon, a hazardous waste treatment facility proposed to be built in the nearby Keystone Industrial Port Complex.

 

The meeting was the latest in a now four-year controversy, which could reach its conclusions in the coming months as the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection nears a May deadline to consider a development application put forth by Elcon Recycling Services, LLC. The company is seeking to build the facility on a 23-acre parcel of old U.S. Steel land, treating up to 193,000 tons of hazardous and pharmaceutical waste annually through a process called thermal oxidization, which opponents liken to simple incineration.

 

Wednesday’s meeting primarily afforded environmental groups such as organizer Bucks POWA (Protect our Water & Air) and the Delaware Riverkeeper Network a chance to reiterate their concerns about potential air pollution, water contamination and accidents involving the two or three dozen trucks that would bring waste water to the site each day.

 

“It’s in an area that is already inundated with pollution and water risk,” said John Brodowski, deputy mayor of Bordentown City, which is located about two miles from the site. “We have to stop it.”

 

Lise Baxter, co-founder of POWA, said the organization had also hired environmental attorney Mike Ewall, a Bensalem native, to craft a local air ordinance that could prevent or restrict Elcon’s operation. Ewall said townships and counties have the ability to pass air ordinances that are stricter than state or federal regulations.

 

“In Baltimore they’re about to pass one that would force two existing incinerators to close down,” Ewall said, adding the “missing ingredient in Falls (is) local officials who are willing to stand up to local polluters.”

 

Baxter said the group also intends to prepare an ordinance for the county and would soon be reaching out to county officials. Speakers Wednesday urged attendees to also contact township and county officials, along with their local state lawmakers.

 

[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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Study Finds Longer Duration Per Prescription of Opioids from 2006 through 2017 in PA and Other States.

Study Finds Longer Duration Per Prescription of Opioids from 2006 through 2017 in PA and Other States. | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

The recent decline in US life expectancy is attributed, in part, to premature deaths from opioid overdose. Prescription opioids were involved in approximately 36% of all deaths in the United States associated with opioid overdose in 2017. The risk of opioid use disorder (commonly called addiction), overdose, and death increases as prescription opioids are taken in higher dosages, for longer periods of time, or as extended-release and long-acting formulations. Duration of use is the strongest predictor of opioid use disorder and overdose. Each additional week of use has been associated with a 20% increased risk for the development of an opioid use disorder or occurrence of an overdose.

 

In this study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, across 12 years, the mean duration and prescribing rate for long-term prescriptions of opioids increased.

 

 

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U.S. Navy to Begin Pilot Study to Test Effectiveness of Filter Technology to Remove Toxic PFAS from Local Drinking Water

U.S. Navy to Begin Pilot Study to Test Effectiveness of Filter Technology to Remove Toxic PFAS from Local Drinking Water | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

[Excerpt from a report by  Kyle Bagenstose]

 

The U.S. Navy will begin piloting an experimental treatment study for toxic chemicals at the former Naval Air Station-Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove in Horsham, officials said at a meeting Thursday night.

 

For several years, the Navy and Air National Guard, which operates the adjacent Horsham Air Guard Station, have studied the presence of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, in area water systems. The chemicals were used for decades in firefighting foams at the bases, leading to some of the highest contamination levels anywhere in the country.

 

While the military has worked to provide clean drinking water for any water supplies impacted above a 70 part per trillion (ppt) drinking water advisory put forth by the Environmental Protection Agency, it has been repeatedly criticized by municipal officials and residents for not doing more to stop the spread of contaminated ground and surface water from leaving the base and entering area waterways [Read: “Frustrations Grow at the Pace and Effectiveness of PFAS Cleanup at Local Military Bases”; http://sco.lt/5tbYky].

 

Enter the Navy’s announcement Thursday that it will launch this spring a six-month pilot program, where it will extract groundwater from the most contaminated part of the base, run it through a series of four carbon and ion exchange filters, and evaluate the technology’s effectiveness.

 

“We want to understand how we can best extract it and treat it,” said Willie Lin, environmental coordinator for the Navy.

 

Lin said the project is a Navy funded program. In addition, the base will play host to several separate studies receiving a total of $5.6 million through a Department of Defense research program, Lin said. That program will team with academic researchers from schools such as Clemson, Auburn and Drexel universities, as well as the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, to study additional treatment systems and how the chemicals move through the environment. [Read: “Temple Researcher, Local Group Awarded Grant to Support Research Into Health Effects of PFAS in Drinking Water”; http://sco.lt/7YYrkv]

 

While some audience members said they appreciated signs of progress from the military, others were critical of what they said was infrequent sampling and a lack of urgency to stop the flow of the chemicals from leaving the base.

 

Chris Crockett, chief environmental officer with water supplier Aqua PA, accused the Navy of cherry picking some data that purported to show PFAS levels decreasing in off-base waterways. Crockett said the company had collected its own data that showed when adjusting for weather conditions, high levels have remained steady over the past several years.

 

“Please be very careful when you say you’re improving,” Crockett said. “We do not see the same trend you’re seeing ... you have to have proof behind it.”

 

State Rep. Todd Stephens, R-151, of Horsham, expressed frustration that the Navy hadn’t sampled streams carrying contaminated water from the bases since June 2018. After an EPA official said the agency had since requested and the Navy had agreed to quarterly sampling, Stephens remained critical.

 

“Why hasn’t that happened before now?” Stephens countered.

 

One resident expressed concern that nearby townships also had PFAS showing up in drinking water and asked if officials still considered the situation an emergency. 

 

Rick Rodgers, with the EPA’s regional office in Philadelphia, said PFAS were used for a variety of purposes and didn’t believe its presence throughout the region could all be attributed to the bases. However, he tempered expectations by saying regardless of the source, PFAS will not be disappearing from area waterways anytime soon.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Meanwhile, the NYT reports that the “Pentagon Pushes for Weaker Standards on Chemicals Contaminating Drinking Water”; https://nyti.ms/2O440Oy

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Warminster Township Joins Newtown and Other Bucks Towns in Suing Opioid Manufacturers & Distributors

Warminster Township Joins Newtown and Other Bucks Towns in Suing Opioid Manufacturers & Distributors | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

Bucks County and several of its municipalities have gone to court to seek damages incurred from the local impact of the opioid crisis.

 

******

Other Bucks municipalities that have pursued opioid lawsuits include Bristol Township, Bensalem, Middletown, Morrisville and Newtown Township (read “Newtown Township Joins Suit Against Opioid Manufacturers and Distributors”). Those opioid lawsuits have been filed either in county court or as part of a federal action consisting of hundreds of consolidated county and municipal cases.

******

 

Warminster recently became the latest town to join the movement, filing an 169-page lawsuit in county court Tuesday against 26 pharmaceutical companies and executives — a “who’s who” list of entities officials say have documented histories of unscrupulous marketing and distribution practices, with no regard for the ripple effect stemming from the township becoming “flooded” with prescription opioids.

 

Officials are seeking damages in excess of $50,000 “sufficient to compensate (Warminster) for all its damages,” past and future, as proven at a trial.

 

Included are manufacturers like Purdue Pharma and seven members of its founding Sackler family, Insys Therapeutics, and Insys founder and CEO John Kapoor, who is on trial in federal court accused of scheming to pay kickbacks to doctors who prescribed Subsys, his company’s fentanyl-based spray. Also on the list of defendants are distributors including AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson.

 

Bucks County experienced an 88.6-percent increase in drug overdose deaths between 2015 and 2017, with 123 and 232 people fatally overdosing in those respective years. Federal data showed there were approximately 66 opioid prescriptions for every 100 Bucks residents in 2016.

 

Though Warminster’s lawsuit does not include figures for the township’s specific death rate, it points to a variety of local impacts, ranging from Narcan training and public awareness campaign costs to a spike in drug-induced vandalism at township parks. There also has been lost productivity from township employees on account of addiction-related medical issues or family members suffering from similar issues, the lawsuit says.

 

“Warminster Township has been battling the opioid epidemic that has been plaguing this community and the people of Pennsylvania,” said township Supervisor Dan McPhillips in a release Thursday. “Warminster Township intends to hold the defendants responsible for what they have done to our community.”

 

Further Reading:

  • “OxyContin Opioid Maker Purdue Pharma Reportedly Exploring Chapter 11 Bankruptcy”; http://sco.lt/8OuLIG
  • “FDA Inaction On Deadly Opioids 'Borders On Criminal,' Charges Head Of Advisory Panel”; http://sco.lt/5Z1184
johnmacknewtown's insight:

At the December 12, 2018, Newtown BOS meeting, when Supervisors voted to sue opioid manufacturers, I said: "I do wish other bad players were on the list of defendants. Including those companies who have illegally provided kickbacks to physicians to overprescribe their opioid products." Watch the video of this meeting here (my comments are at the 46 minute mark). One bad player on my mind at the time was Insys Pharmaceuticals whose founder was Indicted for Bribing Docs to Illegally Prescribe Fentanyl (see here). 

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OxyContin Opioid Maker Purdue Pharma Reportedly Exploring Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

OxyContin Opioid Maker Purdue Pharma Reportedly Exploring Chapter 11 Bankruptcy | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma is exploring filing for bankruptcy to address potentially significant liabilities from thousands of lawsuits alleging the drug manufacturer contributed to the deadly opioid crisis sweeping the United States, people familiar with the matter said on Monday.

The deliberations show how Purdue and its wealthy owners, the Sackler family, are under pressure to respond to mounting litigation accusing the pharmaceutical company of misleading doctors and patients about risks associated with prolonged use of its prescription opioids.

Purdue denies the allegations, arguing that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved labels for its opioids carried warnings about the risk of abuse and misuse associated with the drugs.

Filing for Chapter 11 protection would halt the lawsuits and allow the drug maker to negotiate legal claims with plaintiffs under the supervision of a U.S. bankruptcy judge, the sources said.

More than 1,000 lawsuits accusing Purdue and other opioid manufacturers of using deceptive practices to push addictive drugs that led to fatal overdoses are consolidated in an Ohio federal court. Purdue has held discussions to resolve the litigation with plaintiffs' lawyers who have often compared the cases to widespread lawsuits against the tobacco industry that resulted in a $246 billion settlement in 1998.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Further Reading:

  •  “Purdue #Pharma Doesn't Want Court to Unseal Oxycontin Marketing Documents. What's It Hiding?”:http://sco.lt/6wb24f
  • “OxyContin's 12-hour Problem: Misrepresentation of Efficacy Leads to Addiction & Purdue Knew It”:http://sco.lt/8RfD5F
  • “The History of Purdue's Marketing of Oxycontin & Its Connection to the Opiate Epidemic”: http://sco.lt/6RajLd
  • “Doctor with Ties to Purdue #Pharma Helped Develop Canadian Opioid-Prescribing Guidelines”:http://sco.lt/7f1iin
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Philadelphia PD Captain John L. Hearn Sworn in as Newtown Township's Police Chief

Philadelphia PD Captain John L. Hearn Sworn in as Newtown Township's Police Chief | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

At the February 27, 2019, Board of Supervisors meeting, John L. Hearn, the Commanding Officer of Philadelphia Police Department's 14th Police District, was sworn in as Newtown Township's new Chief of Police by  District Court Judge Mick Petrucci.

The 14th District in Northwest Philadelphia covers the Chestnut Hill and Germantown sections, as well as East and West Mt. Airy.

Hearn was selected by the Supervisors after an exhaustive process that involved screening over 20 applicants.

 

In my review I noted the following about Hearn: http://bit.ly/2HdkYsH 

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FDA Inaction On Deadly Opioids 'Borders On Criminal,' Charges Head Of Advisory Panel

FDA Inaction On Deadly Opioids 'Borders On Criminal,' Charges Head Of Advisory Panel | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

The head of a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on opioids has accused the federal agency of looking out for pharmaceutical company income at the tragic cost of public lives, saying the behavior “borders on the criminal.”

 

“As I sit and listen to them in meetings, all I can think about is the clock ticking and how many people are dying every moment that they’re not doing anything,” Dr. Raeford Brown told The Guardian earlier this week. “The lack of insight that continues to be exhibited by the agency is in many ways a willful blindness that borders on the criminal.”

 

He said the FDA talks a “good game, then nothing happens.”

 

Brown’s angry attack comes as the Massachusetts attorney general is suing Purdue Pharma and members of the Sackler family who own the company that manufactures OxyContin, accusing them of being “personally responsible” for “deceptive sales tactics” that pumped their highly addictive drug into public hands.

 

Almost 400,000 people died from opioid overdoses between 1999 and 2017, according to statistics from the federal Centers for Disease Control. Some 47,000 people died of opioid overdoses in 2017, and 36 percent of those were attributed to prescription drugs.

 

The Sackler family pushed doctors to get “more patients on opioids, at higher doses, for longer, than ever before” while paying “themselves billions of dollars,” Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey told CBS This Morning on Thursday.

 

“They don’t want to accept blame for this. They blame doctors, they blame prescribers and worst of all, they blame patients,” Healey added.

 

Even as company managers were aware of how powerfully addictive their product was, former company president Richard Sackler urged pushing the blame for overdose deaths on the victims, according to Healey.

 

“We have to hammer on the abusers in every way possible,” Sackler wrote in an 2001 email revealed in the lawsuit. “They are the culprits and the problem. They are reckless criminals.”

 

In a lengthy statement to CBS, Purdue Pharma called the accusations “a rush to vilify” the drugmaker, and accused the lawsuit of “cherry-picking” emails. The company claims Healey’s complaint “irresponsibly ... casts every prescription of OxyContin as dangerous and illegitimate, substituting its lawyers’ sensational allegations for the expert scientific determinations of the ... FDA.”

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Further Reading:

  • “Is the FDA - Influenced by the Pharma Industry - Responsible for the Opioid Epidemic? "Without Question," Says Industry Insider.”; http://sco.lt/716pua
  • “Purdue #Pharma Doesn't Want Court to Unseal Oxycontin Marketing Documents. What's It Hiding?”; http://sco.lt/6wb24f
  • “OxyContin's 12-hour Problem: Misrepresentation of Efficacy Leads to Addiction & Purdue Knew It”: http://sco.lt/8RfD5F
  • “The History of Purdue's Marketing of Oxycontin & Its Connection to the Opiate Epidemic”: http://sco.lt/6RajLd
  • “Doctor with Ties to Purdue #Pharma Helped Develop Canadian Opioid-Prescribing Guidelines”: http://sco.lt/7f1iin
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Is the FDA - Influenced by the Pharma Industry - Responsible for the Opioid Epidemic? "Without Question," Says Industry Insider.

Is the FDA - Influenced by the Pharma Industry - Responsible for the Opioid Epidemic? "Without Question," Says Industry Insider. | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

Responsibility for the opioid epidemic may ultimately point to the Food and Drug Administration — and a fateful decision the FDA made all the way back in 2001.

 

Drug manufacturer Ed Thompson spent decades producing opioids for the pharmaceutical industry. He told 60 Minutes that, when the FDA first approved Oxycontin in 1995, science only showed that the drug was effective when used in the short term.

 

But Thompson said the pharmaceutical industry pressured the FDA. Six years later, in 2001, the FDA decided to change the label for Oxycontin, expanding the use for almost anyone with chronic pain.

 

60 Minutes obtained a court order to get the minutes to secret meetings in 2001 between the FDA and Purdue Pharma, the maker of Oxycontin. The documents reveal that the FDA bowed to Purdue Pharma's demands to ignore the lack of science supporting long-term use and changed the Oxycontin label to "around the clock ... for an extended period of time." This gave big pharma the green light to push opioids to tens of millions of new pain patients nationwide.

 

Does Thompson now believe the FDA ignited the opioid crisis?

 

"Without question," he told Whitaker, "they [started] the fire."

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Further Reading:

  •  “Purdue #Pharma Doesn't Want Court to Unseal Oxycontin Marketing Documents. What's It Hiding?”:http://sco.lt/6wb24f
  • “OxyContin's 12-hour Problem: Misrepresentation of Efficacy Leads to Addiction & Purdue Knew It”:http://sco.lt/8RfD5F
  • “The History of Purdue's Marketing of Oxycontin & Its Connection to the Opiate Epidemic”: http://sco.lt/6RajLd
  • “Doctor with Ties to Purdue #Pharma Helped Develop Canadian Opioid-Prescribing Guidelines”:http://sco.lt/7f1iin
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Editorial: EPA Spins Its Wheels on Setting Maximum Contaminant Level for PFAS

Editorial: EPA Spins Its Wheels on Setting Maximum Contaminant Level for PFAS | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

Maybe we’re a little bit cynical from five years spent watching the government’s response to the presence of toxic PFAS chemicals [e.g., PFOA and PFOS] in our communities’ water supplies.

 

[Read: “Perfluorinated Compounds Detected in Newtown Township's Water Supply”]

 

But we’re worried that acting EPA chief Andrew Wheeler’s big Thursday news conference in Philadelphia to discuss the EPA’s PFAS action plan had more to do with removing the “acting” from his job title than making substantive progress on an issue that’s vitally important to area residents. We hope we’re wrong.

 

[Podcast: EPA's PFAS Action Plan Announced]

 

Late last month, online news site Politico reported that the EPA would not set a drinking water standard for PFOS and PFOA, which were used locally in firefighting foams at military bases and have contaminated water wells used by tens of thousands of residents in Bucks and Montgomery counties. Citing two unnamed sources, the report indicated Wheeler had signed off on a plan that would not regulate the chemicals under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

 

Politico followed that up the next day with a report suggesting key congressional Republicans were concerned about the decision and the matter could imperil Wheeler’s confirmation as the next EPA chief, which could soon come to a full Senate vote.

 

When Wheeler addressed the media and others watching the situation Thursday, he announced that any decision on whether to regulate PFOA and PFOS wouldn’t happen until the end of the year. To us, that sounds like the EPA could decide at the end of the year to regulate the chemicals. Or it could decide not to. Then Wheeler gave what sounded like a personal assurance that he would regulate the chemicals.

 

“We have — I have every intention of setting a (maximum contaminant level; MCL),” Wheeler said.

 

It’s a little bit dicey to try to parse that quote. But it looked to us like he stopped himself from speaking for the EPA there and then suggested that he had every intention of regulating them if he gets confirmed.

 

We could be wrong. That might not have been what was going through his head when he said that. But the substance of what he said was not dissimilar to what his predecessor Scott Pruitt said almost a year ago: that the EPA would “take the next step under the Safe Drinking Water Act process to evaluate the need of a Maximum Contaminant Level for PFOA and PFOS.”

 

So this looks to us like a hastily arranged news conference that covered very little new ground in the wake of a potentially damaging Politico report and shortly before a possible Senate vote on Wheeler’s confirmation.

 

Again, we hope we’re wrong. Because getting the substances listed is crucial for members of our community. Since 2014, PFAS chemicals have been found in the drinking water of more than 70,000 area residents, mostly those living in Warminster, Warrington and Horsham. The chemicals have been linked to a variety of health impacts. The military has spent millions providing filters and clean water in affected communities, but some residents believe the chemicals have made them sick.

 

The establishment of a drinking water standard would help protect residents and provide leverage to those whose water supplies exceed the limit and are seeking compensation.

 

It seems like the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection had some misgivings about the EPA’s position as well. On Friday, the day after the EPA press conference, the DEP announced that it would work to set its own drinking water standards for the chemicals. While the DEP has been considering such a move for some time, officials there said the EPA’s position prodded the DEP to move forward.

 

[Read “Pennsylvania Says Its People “Can’t Wait” for Federal Government & Launches Its Own Plan to Set Lower Health Limits for PFOA and PFOS”]

 

Either way, we remain convinced that this needs to be done by someone. We’d prefer it be the EPA. But we applaud the DEP for seeing signs of trouble and promising to act.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Further Reading:

  • “Senators From BOTH Parties Press EPA to Develop Enforceable Standards Limiting PFOA and PFOS in Drinking Water”; http://sco.lt/8NQUwz 
  • “U.S. House Launches Bipartisan PFAS Task Force That Promises to Set Formal Drinking Water Standard for PFAS”; http://sco.lt/6JjI4P 
  • “NJ Department of Environmental Protection Set to Regulate PFOS, PFOA in Drinking Water. Safe Limits Will Be Much Lower Than Recommended by the PA DEP.”; http://sco.lt/63DJ8T 
  • “PA State Sen. Maria Collett to Introduce Bills to Lower Safe Levels of PFAS in Drinking Water”; http://sco.lt/5mREm1 
  • “PFAS From Tainted Water on Military Bases My Be Spreading to Other Towns in Bucks, Montco”; http://sco.lt/7Lillp 
  • “EWG Report: Perfluorinated Pollutant (PFAS) Contamination of Water Spreading”; http://sco.lt/4xLDiD 
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January 2019 Police Report

January 2019 Police Report | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

Interim Police Chief Jason Harris presented the Calls Report for January 2019 at the February 13, 2019, Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting. In January, the Newtown Police Department responded to 1,529 total calls, 264 (17%) of which were in Wrightstown Township (Newtown Police provides services to both Newtown Township and Wrightstown). 

 

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Perfluorinated Compounds Detected in Newtown Township's Water Supply

Perfluorinated Compounds Detected in Newtown Township's Water Supply | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

By now, Newtown Township, Newtown Borough, and some Middletown residents have received a letter from the Newtown Artesian Water Company (NAWCO) alerting customers that “a recent round of [water source] samples have shown detectable limits” of Perfluorinated Compounds (i.e., PFOS and PFOA Definition).

 

Previously, at the August 8, 2018, Newtown Board of Supervisors meeting, Dan Angove, the NAWCO’s Assistant General Manager, reported that the levels of these compounds in Newtown’s drinking water was “nondectable”; i.e., below 5 parts per trillion (ppt).

 

The letter does not mention the exact amounts of these contaminants in recent samples but refers residents to the NAWCO website (www.newtownwater.com) to find the results of measurements. The chart shown above is based on that data.

 

Find more details here…

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Further Reading:

  • “Temple Researcher, Local Group Awarded Grant to Support Research Into Health Effects of PFAS in Drinking Water”; http://sco.lt/7YYrkv
  • “Senators From BOTH Parties Press EPA to Develop Enforceable Standards Limiting PFOA and PFOS in Drinking Water”; http://sco.lt/8NQUwz
  • “U.S. House Launches Bipartisan PFAS Task Force That Promises to Set Formal Drinking Water Standard for PFAS”; http://sco.lt/6JjI4P
  • “NJ Department of Environmental Protection Set to Regulate PFOS, PFOA in Drinking Water. Safe Limits Will Be Much Lower Than Recommended by the PA DEP.”; http://sco.lt/63DJ8T
  • “PA State Sen. Maria Collett to Introduce Bills to Lower Safe Levels of PFAS in Drinking Water”; http://sco.lt/5mREm1
  • “PFAS From Tainted Water on Military Bases My Be Spreading to Other Towns in Bucks, Montco”; http://sco.lt/7Lillp
  • “EWG Report: Perfluorinated Pollutant (PFAS) Contamination of Water Spreading”; http://sco.lt/4xLDiD
  • “Newtown Artesian Water Report on PFAS to Newtown Board of Supervisors”; http://sco.lt/9AMQHR
  • “EPA, Department of Defense, White House Conspired to Put Clamps on Release of PFAS Safety Limits for Drinking Water, Says Union of Concerned Scientists”; http://sco.lt/87oNHN
  • “U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances Documents Call EPA’s PFAS Safety Numbers Into Question”; http://sco.lt/7umDCb
  • “Lower Makefield, Not Satisfied with PA American Water's Paid Ad, Seeks More Answers, Assurances in Wake of Water Emergency”; http://sco.lt/5Ojmbp
  • “U.S. Military Refuses to Test for PFAS in Fish in Horsham, PA & Other Areas”; http://sco.lt/6v9H6n
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Nine Philadelphia Council Members Turned Their Back on Opioid Crisis by Refusing to Reign in Pharmaceutical Marketing Tactics

Nine Philadelphia Council Members Turned Their Back on Opioid Crisis by Refusing to Reign in Pharmaceutical Marketing Tactics | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

[Abstracted from an Editorial published in the Philadelphia Inquirer]

 

… nine [Philadelphia] City Council members voted against a bill that could have had an impact on the over-prescription of opioids. The failed bill, introduced by Council members Bill Greenlee and Cindy Bass, would have required all pharmaceutical representatives to register with the City and would have banned them from giving away gifts and free meals to prescribing physicians. City health officials supported the bill, as did [The Inquirer] editorial board.

 

The bill was opposed by the pharmaceutical industry, arguing that the regulation will prevent important information passing from drug manufacturers to physicians. The hotel industry also opposed it, fearing that the bill will drive away science conventions,

 

It is unclear why meals and free gifts are so critical to communicating information.

 

In fact, just last month a new study published in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association found that counties in which there were more marketing for opioid products saw more prescribing, and subsequently more overdose deaths (see here http://sco.lt/8LBHsH ). While this is not the first study that found a relationship between marketing of drugs and prescribing, the new study both ties the marketing to overdose death rates and shows that multiple small gifts, such as a meal, matter more than expensive gifts.

 

The no votes for the pharma bill represent a vote for the culture of quid pro quo -- which is bad enough, but infinitely more deplorable as the city struggles to stem the devastation of death and destruction caused by opioids. Nine members of City Council just turned their backs on this crisis. They owe every family that has lost a loved one an explanation as to why.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Further Reading:

  • “Chance of Being Prescribed Opioids for Minor Injury Differs Dramatically by Where You Live”; http://sco.lt/5bBzo9
  • “Dancing with Fentanyl: Insys Sales Reps Caught Rapping to Boost Sales”; http://sco.lt/9JOA6L
  • “Secret Internal Sales Documents Reveal Abbott's Despicable "Crusade" to Sell OxyContin”; http://sco.lt/4jHnJB
  • “How Congress Allied with Drug Company Lobbyists to Derail the DEA’s War on Opioids”; http://sco.lt/8AzdqL
  • “California Senate Moves To Restrict Gifts to Doctors”; http://sco.lt/6ryJwP
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PA Department of Environmental Protection Must Be Clear on Elcon & Provide "Truckloads of Information" at Upcoming Public Meeting

PA Department of Environmental Protection Must Be Clear on Elcon & Provide "Truckloads of Information" at Upcoming Public Meeting | Public Health & Safety | Scoop.it

[The following is excerpted from an Intelligencer editorial.]

 

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection will host a public meeting March 5 to share information and answer questions about the proposed hazardous waste treatment facility that Elcon Recycling Services wants to build in Falls. We hope the DEP brings truckloads of information. Now is its chance to be completely transparent about Elcon’s plans and its own process.

 

[The meeting will take place on Tuesday, March 5, 2019, from 6:00-9:00 PM at the Sheraton Bucks County Hotel, 400 Oxford Valley Road, Langhorne, PA 19047.]

 

Both have long troubled residents of Falls and nearby municipalities along the Delaware River in Lower Bucks and Burlington counties. In addition to the basics about Elcon’s development proposal, here are some of the items DEP should be ready to provide concerned residents:

 

  • A step-by-step look at DEP’s process for deciding whether to approve Elcon’s plans.

 

  • Any relevant permitting procedures that Elcon needs to follow and the criteria and timeframe for approval.

 

  • Details about the hazardous waste Elcon will treat and whether it would be biological, organic, flammable, corrosive or radioactive.

 

  • Easy-to-follow explainers about wastewater — where it would come from, what would be in it, how it would be treated, what byproducts would result and at what concentrations, and how it would be discharged.

 

  • What oversight Elcon will receive from the DEP once operations begin. Would monitoring be continuous or occasional?

 

  • What penalties exist if Elcon fails to meet promised environmental benchmarks or exceeds maximum emission standards.

 

Elcon has been trying to get into the Keystone Industrial Port Complex for about five years. The company wants to build on a 23-acre parcel of the old U.S. Steel property. Elcon has agreed to pay U.S. Steel almost $3 million for the property, though sale is contingent on final DEP permits and construction approval from Falls.

 

[Listen to this podcast in which John Brodowski, the Deputy Mayor of Bordentown City, New Jersey, reviews the background of the proposed Elcon hazardous waste treatment facility site in Falls Township and makes a case for why neighboring communities should oppose this project.]

 

The site would treat up to 193,000 tons of hazardous and pharmaceutical waste per year and Elcon says it will limit any toxic releases to safe amounts. Elcon promotes a “thermal oxidization” process to thoroughly clean air emissions. We’d like the DEP to explain what the toxins are, why they aren’t completely destroyed by the process and what amounts they deem safe.

 

Critics of the plans are skeptical of the technology, likening it to a simple incinerator and believe it will emit harmful pollutants into the air or the Delaware River, which provides drinking water for millions of people, particularly in the event of a malfunction or spill.

 

From the beginning, Elcon has faced public opposition and its applications have had various problems. The DEP rejected a “Phase I” land application in 2015 over a lack of flood-risk data. A resubmitted application advanced to “Phase II” but was sent back twice in 2017 for missing materials.

 

But the latest application received a key approval last July that started a 10-month technical review. When that ends, DEP will publish either a draft permit or a notice of intent to deny the permit. The public will then have at least 45 days to comment on the matter in writing or, potentially, at a hearing. Once the comment period expires, the DEP Secretary will issue or deny the permit.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Further Reading:

  •  “Elcon Reapplies to DEP for Toxic Waste Facility Located Next to Delaware River”; http://sco.lt/88Ru3l 
  • “It May Take Lawsuits to Stop the Elcon Toxic Waste Incinerator”; http://sco.lt/68dz7p 
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