Board of Health approves new biosafety regulations

By Journal Staff

The Revere Board of Health held a brief (15 minutes) but consequential meeting last Thursday evening in the City Council Chamber at which Chairman Dr. Drew Bunker and colleagues Dr. Craig Costanza and Nezha Louaddi unanimously approved the new Regulations on Biosafety and the Use of Regulated Biological Agents within the city.

The new regulations are an update of the previous regulations in anticipation of the development at Suffolk Downs that is expected to attract a number of life sciences companies as tenants.

The board had discussed a draft of the proposed regulations at its October meeting and scheduled the public hearing on the new regulations for last Thursday.

The board heard a brief presentation from Claire Inzerillo, a Policy Writer & Analyst with the City Solicitor’s Office, who had discussed a draft of the proposed regulations in detail at the October meeting. After hearing suggestions from the members in October, Inzerillo returned with the final version last Thursday

“These regulations will provide for the health and safety of the citizens of Revere,” Inzerillo told the board. “Revere anticipates the exciting arrival of the life sciences industry. I am confident that the regulations before you will guarantee safe and transparent procedures.”

The chief highlights of the new regulations are that they limit research in the city only to Biosafety Levels 1 and 2 (Biosafety Levels 3 and 4 deal with the most dangerous pathogens) and they forbid experimentation with animals.

The new regulations also establish fees for annual permits and fines for violations. Inzerillo also noted that the work being done by the firms will be highly-regulated by state and federal agencies in conjunction with Revere’s public safety departments.

There were no members of the public at the hearing and after thanking Ms. Inzerillo for the fine job she had done to prepare the new regulations, the members voted unanimously to adopt the new regulations. The members then affixed their signatures to the document.

In other business, the board heard from Lauren Buck, the Director of Public Health, who presented the monthly communicable disease report (which included both November and December because the board did not meet in November).

Buck said there were 361 reported cases of flu in the city during the past two months.

“This is a very big number, but not a surprise, given the high numbers in Massachusetts and across the country,” said Buck. “The patients ranged in age from one month to 92 years old.”

She said the most at-risk age groups for death are the very young and the very old and that she expects the numbers to remain high in the coming months.

Buck reminded residents that flu vaccine shots are available at the Board of Health.

Michael Wells, the city’s Health Agent/Director of the Inspectional Services Dept. (ISD), presented his monthly report in which he detailed the number of inspections and complaints that were addressed by the ISD.

He also noted the number of citation issued by the ISD in the past two months for various violations of the city ordinances: 69 for accumulations of trash and debris; five for commercial vehicles parked in residential areas; 171 for improper placement of bulky items; and 560 for improper placement of trash and debris.

Julia Newhall, the Director of the Substance Use Disorder and Homelessness Initiatives (SUDHI) Office, made a brief presentation in which she noted there will be emergency warming centers available from January through April in the Revere area, as well as emergency shelters for families and individuals.

Newhall said Revere has a consistent homeless population of about 30-40 persons.

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