Board of Health Discusses Upcoming Biosafety Regulations

The Revere Board of Health held its regular monthly meeting last Thursday evening, September 22, at Revere City Hall in the City Council Chambers.

On hand for the meeting were chairperson Dr. Drew Bunker; board members  Dr. Craig Costanza and Nezha Louaddi; Lauren Buck, the Director of Public Health; Michael Wells, the city’s Health Agent/Director of Inspectional Services; and Paula Sepulveda, the Board of Health Clerk.

The meeting was a brief one with the main piece of business pertaining to the  Introduction to Biosafety Regulations that was presented by Buck by means of a powerpoint presentation.

Buck started her discussion with a review of  the city ordinance that was adopted by the City Council a few weeks ago that made revisions to the previous ordinance defining Research and Development Facilities.

The principal change in the new ordinance is that it will allow only Level 1 and Level 2 Biomedical Safety Facilities to be permitted in the city. 

The previous ordinance allowed Level 3 facilities, which along with Level 4 labs, work on the most dangerous infectious agents or toxins.

In addition to the general ordinance, there also is a specific ordinance pertaining to the Suffolk Downs Overlay District which emphasizes that Level 3 and 4 facilities are not permitted and that testing on certain animal species (cats, dogs, rabbitts, moneys, chimpanzees, and other related primates) is not allowed.

In addition, the new ordinance states there is to be no allowance for the granting of a special permit for any facility beyond what is allowed by the ordinance.

All potential biomedical research companies will have to apply to the Board of Health for a license for which the applicant must meet a host of complex requirements.

The licensee also will have to comply with requirements set forth by the city’s public safety departments.

Buck showed charts displaying the framework for regulations that other municipalities in the Greater Boston area have adopted as a reference for the scope of regulations that the Revere board may want to include in its upcoming regulations.

In other business:

Buck presented the Public Health Communicable Disease monthly report. She said that there were three cases of influenza in the city in the past month.

“This is a fall and winter illness, so we should expect the numbers to increase in the months ahead,” she said.

Buck also noted that a recent study revealed that the availability of regular telehealth visits during the pandemic resulted in individuals staying in substance abuse treatment longer and in fewer deaths from medically-treated overdoses.

She also made note of another study that revealed that 80 percent of pregnancy-related maternal deaths were preventable. The vast majority of maternal mortality is attributable to mental health issues, excessive bleeding, and cardiac conditions.

As for COVID-19, there has been a total of 24,946 cases and 192 deaths in the city since the start of the pandemic.

In September, the daily average of new cases was 14.6 with a 14-day positivity rate of 8.64, a slight decrease from the previous month.

Wells presented the Inspectional Services Dept. monthly report.

“This was another busy month for Inspectional Services,” said Wells.

Among the work performed by the ISD in the past month, there were 60 new certificates of fitness for habitability and 13 reinspections.

Regarding food-related inspections: There were 26 new food inspections and 12 reinspections; four complaint inspections; two opening inspections; 14 rodent control inspections; and one establishment closure.

As for exterior sanitation, ISD issued 41 citations for accumulations of trash, litter, and garbage, 50 citations for improper placements of bulky items, and 252 citations for improper placements of trash.

The ISD issued two citations for improper signage on public property; four for improper storage of garbage and trash; four for junk heaps (motor vehicles), 34 for unclean or overgrown land; three for unpermitted dumpsters, and two for water flow from sump pumps.

The board members also signed the amendments to the city’s Regulations Restricting the Sale of Tobacco and Vape Products.

The board had held a public hearing on the new regulations two months ago and voted to adopt the new regulations last month. The new regulations were put into final form by the board’s staff, with the board members affixing their signatures on the document Thursday evening.

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