Public Health Issues
As someone with degrees in chemistry and biochemistry, I am concerned about chemicals in our environment whether it be contaminants in our water and air or illegal drugs.
According to an article published in the July 16, 2017 issue of the Bucks County Courier Times, "over the past several years, more that 16 public and 200 private wells...were found to be contaminated with high levels of PFAS (PFOS and PFOA) Definition, which come from fire-fighting foams. The problem is national in scope... The contamination has reached drinking water supplies in states as diverse as New Jersey, New Hampshire, Colorado, and Washington."
The current opioid epidemic is a major public health problem that I have written about frequently in my blog and elsewhere. You can find news updates on this crisis here.
Excerpts from Board of Supervisors Meeting Minutes
Details of important Public Health related Newtown Board of Supervisors' decisions and discussions in last few years (organized by issue in reverse chronological order). This is NOT a complete list of items. You can find complete minutes of BOS Definition meetings here.
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Drug Addiction Crisis
11-Apr-2018: Push Out the Pusher Program. Police Chief Pasqualine mentioned the Bucks County Crime Stoppers program "Push Out The Pusher" signs. District Attorney Matt Weintraub and Chief endorse this program that encourages the public to get involved with this campaign. If you call the drug tip hotline at 215-345-3784 with information on a drug dealer and that information leads to the arrest and conviction of a drug dealer, that tip will lead to an award of up to $5,000.00. Text the word BUCKSDRUGTIPS and your tip to TIP411 (847411), or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Yards signs are available at www.buckscrimestoppers.org/take-action. Mr. Mack commented that the County raised taxes primarily to fund this program and he asked how many signs were distributed in Newtown. Signs were just starting to be distributed; signs would be available in the future, or can be ordered on the Bucks Crime Stoppers website. [Read "How Effective is the 'Push Out the Pusher' Program?"]
24-Jan-2018: Evan Resnikoff, Chief of Newtown Ambulance Squad, informed the Supervisors Definition that the State has approved a “leave behind Narcan” program to allow EMS to leave nasal dose Narcan to families at risk. Through a Federal grant, the County will be receiving boxes of Narcan. Once available, Newtown Ambulance will be able to provide the Narcan and instructions of use.
11-Oct-2017: Mr. Resnikoff was asked to report on the opioid epidemic in the area. The response to opioid calls is up 57.6% in the first 8 months of the year compared to the same period the previous year (20 calls); there is a cost on the health care system including EMS because greater than 80% of these patients are uninsured and it is unlikely that a fee of service would be collected even though the same patient could receive help multiple times. Ms. Resnikoff urged the Township to consider returning to the EMS millage (see "Newtown Ambulance Squad Seeks Additional Funding"). The benefits would be a return of the LST funding into the Township budget that the State allows, and losing paramedics to higher paying opportunities. Currently, squad members are paid well below the market rate for Bucks County.
Regarding the County's drug take back program, Mr. Calabro asked if there was a way to have a secure lockbox at the station so that drugs could be dropped off at any time. Chief Pasqualini noted that there are four drug take back events each year, and a drop box is available at the station during business hours, Monday-Fridays. Arrangements can also be made to have an officer open the station for the drugs to be dropped off. Call the Police Department to schedule. If there was a need for 24x7 availability, then it would be worth the expense and effort to make it work, but as of right now, there are other stations where drugs could be dropped off, including Bensalem Township which has a 24x7 manned station. [Read "Newtown Has a 24/7 Drug Drop Box - Sort Of"]
28-Jun-2017: KVK Tech. Resident John Mack from County Bend thanked KVK Tech for the fireworks and commented that the company makes oxycodone and oxymorphine. He believes the company should not be granted variances and should take some responsibility for making drugs that create addictive use [read "Attacking the Root of the Opioid Crisis - Pharmaceutical Companies"]. Mr. Gallagher stated the Zoning Hearing Board is a separate entity and awards variances based on the application. To deny variances because a company makes a drug could result in a lawsuit. Mrs. Dix commented how the company is seeking 83% impervious surface with less parking spaces required whereas there is a 63% maximum impervious surface limit.
13-Nov-2019: Evan Ressikoff, Chief of Newtown Ambulance Squad, presented citations to several members of the NAS, St. Mary’s EMS and Newtown Fire Association. He said that Bucks County automatically dispatches two paramedic ambulances whenever a cardiac arrest is reported and in the third quarter of this year 39% of all cardiac arrests were resuscitated by the time they arrived at the hospital. Chief Resnikoff said these positive outcomes would not be possible without County, Municipal, and residential support and he emphasized the importance of knowing CPR.
13-Dec-2017: Evan Ressikoff, Chief of Newtown Ambulance Squad, made a presentation in support of the 1 Millage Definition for the Fire Hydrant Millage Tax/Ambulance Fund. A 1 mill tax is equal to $18.00 [should be $40 for a house with assessed vlaue or $40,000] per year per household. There is a two-fold benefit for the millage tax: $120,000 would stay in the Capital Fund budget, and a millage tax would give EMS steady, predictable funds. [These numbers may not be accurate. For more on that, read: "Newtown Ambulance Squad Seeks Additional Funding"]
11-Apr-2018: The Planning Commission ... began preliminary discussions of three ordinances, of which was Medical Marijuana (MMJ) Uses in the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance (JMZO Definition). A map overlay showing existing school locations was made available but there has been no determined definition or type of schools to be identified. The statute presented does not define a school. There was discussion on whether it is necessary for each municipality in the Jointure to maintain an inventory of accurate locations of existing schools so if there is an applicant (dispensary), they would have to comply with being located 1,000 ft. from the property line of a school. Presently, the JMZO only indicates it being available in one zoning classification which would be in Upper Makefield. [Do you think MMJ has a role in combatting opioid addiction? Do you agree with the school zone restriction? Please take my survey. After completing the survey, you can see a summary of results to date. No identifying information is collected via this survey unless you provide such information within your comments. THIS SURVEY IS NOT AN OFFICIAL SURVEY OF NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP OR ANY OTHER GOVERNMENTAL AGENCY. Results of the survey, however, may be used by Supervisor John Mack to help form his opinion and make reports to the Newtown Board of Supervisors.]
11-Jan-2017: The [Newtown, Upper Makefiled, Wrightstown] Jointure Definition is planning to consider zoning for both production and distribution of medical marijuana. Mr. Ferguson said that he, Mr. Lewis and Code Enforcement Officer Martin Vogt would be attending a seminar on this topic in February. Mrs. Dix suggested that the Jointure should also consider Zoning Definition should marijuana become legal for recreational use.
14-Sep-2016: Sarah Foisy, representing Council Rock Coalition for Healthy Youth, urged the Board to give careful consideration to zoning for medical marijuana dispensaries, noting that the introduction of medical marijuana to the community can pose many risks and dangers, including an increase in driving under the influence of medications and other crimes. Mr. Garton thanked Ms. Foisy for speaking on this issue and explained that Newtown, as part of a Jointure, must draft zoning ordinances in conjunction with Wrightstown and Upper Makefield. As new uses are introduced, the Jointure carefully researches these uses and begins a review process for new zoning regulations.
[In the following podcast, John Mack interviews Dr. Frank D’Ambrosio, one of the leading voices for medicinal cannabis policy reform in the U.S. Doctor Frank – as he likes to be called – published a survey of medical marijuana patients in California to find out more about what conditions patients use cannabis for and if they have used cannabis to replace or reduce their intake of any other prescription medications such as opioids. The opinions expressed in the podcast are solely those of John Mack and Doctor Frank and do not reflect the official position of Newtown Township nor do they represent the opinions of any other person or entity.]
8-May-2019: Newtown Artesian Water Company: Dan Angove, General Manager of Newtown Artesian, followed up with the Board on Newtown Artesian’s
February letter advising residents of the presence of Polyflouroalkyls (PFC’s including PFAs and PFOAs Definition) in our water. While
Newtown’s water tested below the advisory of 70 particles per trillion, there were PFC’s detected. The
Water Company has initiated quarterly testing and has taken two wells off line to address the issue.
www.newtownwater.com has the most recently updated information on the levels.
[At the meeting, Supervisor Mack asked Mr. Angove to explain the results in comparison to the Q4 results focusing on (1) how sampling is done, (2) when was sampling done, (3) were multiple samples collected & combined for the test? (4) what company did the testing, (5) how accurate is the test? What's the margin of error? Residents also asked if the NAWC had set aside money to lower the levels of PFAS if necessary to comply with the Maximum Contamination Levels (MCLs) set by the PA Department of Environmental Protection.]
13-Mar-2019: Mr. Mack reported that in response to recent letters to residents from Newtown Artesian Water Company advising of the presence of some PFAs Definition in the water, he and Ms. Bobrin met with General Manager Daniel Angove, who reviewed testing procedures, which are now run quarterly. Upon Mr. Mack’s request, the Board instructed the Township Manager to invite Mr. Angove to make a presentation to the Board after the next tests, which are scheduled for March, 2019.
24-Apr-2019: Resident Mark Boada expressed his concern over a letter received from Newtown Artesian Water indicating small levels of contamination in groundwater. Mr. Mack addressed this by acknowledging the Board is aware of this situation and the Board is being kept informed of ongoing testing results by Mr. Angove from Newtown Artesian Water.
8-Aug-2018: Newtown Artesian Water Company Presentation. Dan Angove, Assistant General Manager, reported on the overall water quality of the Township. Occasional testing is performed on the local wells that provide Newtown’s water sources. The water is safe and in compliant with the standards mandated by PUC, PaEPA and USEPA regulations. There have been no detection of PFAs and PFOAs Definition (manmade chemicals that leached into the water in the Horsham/Willow Grove Naval Air Station area). The NAWC is proactively conducting testing for these compounds. [See video below. Also, read "Newtown Artesian Water Report on PFAS" for more information on PFAS levels in local water supplies.]
27-Jul-2018: Mr. Mack attended the EPA public meeting regarding perfluorinated chemicals (PFAS) on July 25, 2018 at Hatboro‐Horsham Senior High School ["EPA Meeting in Horsham is All About Perfluorinated Chemical Contamination of Local Water Supplies"]. Federal, State and local officials provided information regarding water contamination and actions taken ["Local Officials Speak Out on PFAS/PFOA Contamination of Water" (video)]. Mr. Mack also indicated that Dan Angove, Assistant General Manager of Newtown Artesian Water Company will attend the August 8, 2018 Board of Supervisors meeting to make a presentation regarding the quality of water in Newtown.
14-Feb-2018: Mr. Mack referred to a news item that cyanide had been poured down a storm drain. He spoke to Dan Angrove, Assistant General Manager of Newtown Artesian Water Company, and was assured there was never a threat to the water supply. Other municipalities also performed testing and no toxicity was found. If there is an emergency, the water company would put a reverse 911 system into effect to notify people or would have door hangers placed. [Read "Newtown Artesian Water Company's Response to Cyanide Dumping Issue"]
11-Oct-2017: Newtown Artesian Water Company Presentation. Upon the request of the Board of Supervisors, Mr. Dan Angove, Assistant General Manager of Newtown Artesian Water Company, reported on the quality of water and concerns of carcinogens based on a recent published newspaper article. The Company provides safe, reliable drinking water while maintaining cost efficient service to all of Newtown Township, Borough and part of Middletown Township. Out of the Company's 10 employees, 6 are State licensed operators. The Company is regulated by the PUC and governed by the DEP. Some of the hot topics of water are lead, copper, total chromium, PFCs and carcinogens. The Company exceeds all regulations. The newspaper article was authored by a California resident who was working for a company selling water filters. [NOTE: The was written by Kyle Bagenstose, a Bucks County Courier Times Staff Writer. Perhaps Angove was referring to, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit organization that actually did the study and was referenced in the article. For more on that read "Newtown Artesian Water Company Defends Quality of Its Water"] The article was based on a study of health gUidelines whereas the Company follows State and Federal guidelines for acceptable levels. If there was a problem with the water, the Company would notify their 38,000 consumers via reverse 911 call or door hangers. There are four storage tanks around the system for emergency and fire protection. With the DEP, there is a source water protection for the rivers and wells all through Newtown. The sources of water for Newtown is from Bucks County Water (60%) and Pennsylvania American Water, and both attain their water from the Delaware River. The water is blended with 5 wells in-house for the remaining 40%.
The basis of residents' concerns is the situation at the Willow Grove Naval Air Station. Mr. Angove believed there is no particular danger from that contamination to the Company's water and added that the Company proactively performs precautionary tests throughout the year. Over 40 tests are performed on a monthly basis and other tests, i.e. for carcinogens, are performed each quarter. Mr. Angove wasn't able to offer any information on how fracking could affect the water supply in the area. All consumer confidence reports, with sample results, can be found at the Company's website, www.newtownwater.com. and includes contact information for more information.
22-Nov-2016: Newtown Artesian Water Company Presentation. Mr. Ferguson reminded the Board that Mr. Calabro asked to invite a representative of the water company to give a brief overview of water safety in Newtown, as some nearby communities have had difficulties with contaminations. Daniel Angove, Assistant General Manager of Newtown Artesian, said that the water company's mission is to supply safe drinking water to its customers at reasonable rates. Recent testing has shown that Newtown Artesian exceeds all regulations set by DEP and EPA. The system has 10,000 connections to 38,000 customers. The system has five wells and also takes from PA American in Yardley and Bucks County Water and Sewer Authority. There are four storage tanks for emergencies, and the company partners with DEP to monitor for source threats. Test results are available to the public at newtownwater.com Mrs. Dix asked if any water comes from the Delaware River. Mr. Angove said that he believes that some of PA American's water comes from the Delaware. Mr. Ferguson asked if all of Newtown's water comes from North, above us. Mr. Angove said that all of the sources are coming from north to south. Mr. Calabro asked if the water company is a government agency. Mr. Angove said that they are governed by the PUC but are privately owned.
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