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Dec 04
Donated Artwork Lifts Spirits at Recovery Facility

​There is a new piece of artwork hanging in the halls at Transitions, a residential recovery treatment program for adults in Boston. The piece titled “Together We Soar” was placed outside the admissions office so it will be seen by each client entering the program run by the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC).

“Anyone who has been through recovery or knows someone who has, understands it is a painstaking and often painful process. That is what this artwork represents: Together, we will find the right path to recovery for you and move along it together. Together, you too can soar,” said Jess Nieuwenhuizen, the Director of Programs and Planning at BPHC’s Bureau of Recovery Services.


The artwork was generously donated by the National Organization of Arts in Health (NOAH). Each feather of the wings was crafted by the attendees at this year’s 3rd annual NOAH conference. The conference was held in Boston in September.

“Art has a unique and powerful way of reaching people and lifting spirits. We’ve placed this piece in our building hoping it will inspire everyone who sees it and will let them know they’re not alone on the path to recovery,” said Jennifer Lo, M.D., BPHC Medical Director and NOAH Board member.

Transitions serves approximately 500 individuals every year. Its goal is to offer a safe and therapeutic environment that support clients in recovery. Transitions focuses on relapse prevention, behavior modification, interpersonal skill development, and re-socialization skills.

The City of Boston has taken a comprehensive approach to tackle the opioid epidemic, serving people in all stages of the continuum of care, from providing harm reduction services to ensure people can maintain health in various aspects of their lives, to connecting people to rehabilitation services and facilities to offering inpatient and outpatient programming, to long-term peer support.



About the Boston Public Health Commission: 

The Boston Public Health Commission, one of the country's oldest health department, is an independent public agency providing a wide range of health services and programs. It is governed by a seven-member board of health appointed by the Mayor of Boston.

Public service and access to quality health care are the cornerstones of our mission - to protect, preserve, and promote the health and well-being of all Boston residents, particularly those who are most vulnerable. The Commission's more than 40 programs are grouped into six bureaus: Child, Adolescent & Family Health; Community Health Initiatives; Homeless Services; Infectious Disease; Recovery Services; and Emergency Medical Services.

About NOAH:

As the National Organization for Arts in Health, NOAH provides transformational leadership to bring the fields of arts in health together, and to move the field forward. NOAH’s focus is on the future of arts, health, and wellbeing; and creating the tangible impact from its goals and initiatives. NOAH knows through research and experience that the arts are an integral component to health, and it is committed to shaping a reality where that fact is accepted fully, and incorporated into medical treatment, medical education, prevention and public health and wellbeing.

Nov 27
Food Safety for the Holiday Season

The holiday season is here! Many of us will spend the next several weeks getting together with family and friends and enjoying our favorite foods and traditions. Following these guidelines can go a long way towards keeping everyone healthy this holiday season! 


Clean:

  • Wash your hands with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds before and after preparing food, after touching raw food, before eating, and after using the restroom. 

  • Rinse all fresh fruits and vegetables under running water before cooking, packing or eating. 

  • Wash dishes, utensils and all surfaces, like cutting boards, with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item and before going onto the next item. 

Separate: 

  • Make sure you understand all of your guests allergies, such as gluten or dairy, and communicate with them about which items at your meal they may want to skip. 

  • Keep raw eggs, meat, poultry and fish - and their juices - away from other foods.  

  • Use separate plates for raw and cooked eggs, meat, fish or poultry. 

  • If possible, use one cutting board for meat or poultry that will be cooked and another for ready-to-eat food, such as raw vegetables or fruit. If only one cutting board is available, wash it with soap and hot water in between preparing raw meat, poultry, or fish and preparing produce that will not be cooked. 

Cook:

  • Raw eggs, meat, poultry and fish need to be cooked thoroughly.  

  • Use a thermometer to ensure foods have reached a high enough internal temperature to kill any harmful germs that might be present. 

​​Food 

​Internal Temperatures  

​Roast Beef, Steaks 

​145°F with 3-minute rest* 

​Ground Beef 

​160°F 

​Ribs, Chops, Roast Pork, Sausage (fresh) 

​145°F with 3-minute rest*​ 

​Ground pork 

 ​160°F​ 

​Chicken, Duck, Turkey, Ground Poultry 

​ ​165°F​ 

​Fried or Poached Eggs 

​Until yolk is firm 

*After removing your meat from the heat source, let it sit for at least three minutes. Your meat will continue to cook during this time, helping to kill any remaining germs. 

Leftovers:

  • Harmful bacteria grow rapidly at room temperature and leaving food out too long is one of the biggest holiday food safety problems. Don’t leave food sitting out for more than two hours. 

  • Smaller portions and shallow containers work best. An entire turkey or a large container may take too long to cool down to a safe temperature, which gives bacteria a chance to multiply. 

  • Most leftovers can be kept covered in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. If you store leftovers in the freezer, they will be of the best quality within 2 to 6 months. When in doubt, throw it out. If food looks or smells questionable, throw it away. 


To learn more about food poisoning and ways to avoid it, click here. The Boston Public Health Commission would like to wish you and your family a happy and healthy holiday season! 

 


Nov 25
Boston Board of Health Approves Proposed Changes to Tobacco and Nicotine Product Sales

​Today the Boston Board of Health approved changes to regulations aimed at addressing vaping and tobacco use among youth in Boston proposed by Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) in September 2019, followed by resident engagement and a public comment period and hearing. The amendments call for mint and menthol nicotine and tobacco products to only be sold in verified adult-only tobacco retailers. In addition to removing the menthol exemption, the amendments strengthen retailer ID checking requirements and restrict the sale of products that attract young people. 

“What we are seeing now with the explosive expansion of vaping products risks reversing decades of gains in reducing youth tobacco use,” said Boston Board of Health Chair Manny Lopes. “When it comes to local tobacco control, data shows strong policies work. I believe today’s actions take important steps to prevent Boston’s youth from entering into a lifetime of nicotine and tobacco dependency.”

The regulatory amendments also seek to address long-standing disparities in tobacco use patterns and associated mortality from diseases such as heart disease, cancer and stroke. BPHC researchers found that among adults in Boston, black adults suffer the greatest burden of tobacco-related mortality of any ethnic or racial group. Tobacco use is a major contributor to the three leading causes of death among African Americans - heart disease, cancer and stroke. 

Mayor Walsh asked BPHC staff to present the Board of Health with local public health data and a permanent regulatory response in response to both the long-standing issue of menthol tobacco use as well as the rapidly emerging issue of youth nicotine use and vaping. 

"I believe that now is the time to act, and I applaud the Board of Health for taking action to ensure Boston has some of the strongest regulations in the country to protect our young people,” said Mayor Walsh. "Teen vaping is an epidemic that is particularly alarming because we know that nicotine use at a young age can have the power to lead to a lifelong dependency. The data is undeniable in showing that these amendments would save lives.”

The proposed amendments were presented at the Board of Health meeting in September. It was followed by a public comment period, which ran from September 18, 2019 through November 8, 2019. During that time, 210 total comments were received. A public hearing on September 7th was well attended by members of the community and 56 individual offered testimony. Retailers have until June 1, 2020 to implement flavored tobacco restrictions. Flavored nicotine restrictions and other proposed changes go into effect immediately.

Boston continues to be a leader at taking steps at the local level to restrict youth access to tobacco and other nicotine products such as e-cigarettes, vapes and "e-juice," making it among the first jurisdictions in the United States to regulate e-cigarettes and other nicotine products on equal footing with tobacco. In 2015, the Board of Health increased the sales age for nicotine and tobacco products to 21 and restricted the sale of the majority of flavored tobacco and nicotine products to adult-only tobacco retail locations. After Board’s flavoring restrictions were implemented, Boston public high school current vaping rate decreased from 14.5 percent in 2015 to 5.7 percent in 2017. Most recent national data showed that youth vaping rates have continued to increase with more than 27 percent of youth report current vaping.


Amendment language and supporting materials are available online at www.bphc.org/regulations


Oct 23
Mayor Walsh, Boston Health Officials Issue Health Advisory

​Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) today issued a health advisory involving two cases of young children diagnosed with meningococcal disease. All individuals who are known to have been in close contact with these two cases have been identified and received antibiotics as a precautionary measure to reduce the risk of further infection. 

Meningococcal disease is an infectious disease that is caused by a bacterial infection. Both cases have been associated with day care centers specializing in serving children who have experienced homelessness, however it is not currently known if the two cases are connected. The last date that either case was at one of the day care centers was October 18th and no secondary cases have been identified at this time. 

The disease is spread from person to person through saliva, requiring close contact with infected individuals. Time from exposure to developing symptoms is between one to 10 days, and usually less than four days. Symptoms develop rapidly and include nausea, vomiting, increased sensitivity to light, and altered mental status or confusion. 

Meningococcal disease has become less common in recent years, with between 10 to 15 reported cases statewide each year. There are several different forms of meningococcal disease, including infection of the blood and infection of the brain and spinal cord, known as meningitis. Early detection and initiation of antibiotics for suspected meningococcal disease is critically important.

There are safe and effective vaccines available to prevent infection from the most common forms of meningococcal disease and residents are encouraged to speak with their health care provider about vaccination options.

Any resident with questions about meningococcal disease should call BPHC at (617) 534-5611. Fact sheets are also available at bphc.org in English, Chinese, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, Spanish, Vietnamese.

Oct 15
National Latinx AIDS Awareness Day: "Living with HIV or not....we're fighting this together."

Each year, National Latinx AIDS Awareness Day promotes HIV testing, prevention, and treatment in Latinx communities. HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks the immune system – the part of the body that fights disease. HIV infection can eventually lead to AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). In Boston, there were 5,920 residents living with HIV in 2017, among them a disproportionate number were Latinx/Hispanic. One in seven people living with HIV do not know that they have it.

BPHC is proud to join The Latino Commission on AIDS (LCOA) , the Hispanic Federation  and other organizations in using  this day to build capacity for non-profit organizations and health departments to reach Latino/Hispanic communities, promote HIV testing, and provide HIV prevention information and access to care. This year's theme is "Living with HIV or not…. we're fighting this together."

HIV Prevention

  • Never share syringes or works to inject drugs (for example, cookers).
  • Use condoms correctly every time you have vaginal or anal sex.
  • Limit your number of sex partners.
  • Use Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP); a medication that is highly effective for preventing HIV infection when taken daily.

If you have been exposed to HIV, talk to your provider about Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP). PEP can be used in emergencies to reduce the risk of adcquiring HIV but must be started within 72 hours of exposure. 

HIV Testing 

The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control recommends that everyone between 13 and 64 years old get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care. High risk groups like men who have sex with men (MSM) should get tested at least once per year. It is also recommended that you be tested for HIV every time to have a new sex partner. 

HIV Treatment 

There is no cure for HIV. However, there have been tremendous advancements in treatment. Today, antiretroviral therapy (ART) can keep HIV-positive people healthy for many years. This treatment decreases the amount of the virus in the body. If you are HIV positive, talk to your healthcare provider about ART.  

BPHC provides information about HIV in multiple languages including Spanish, English, Chinese, Haitian Creole, Portuguese and Vietnamese. For more information, visit www.bphc.org/HIV.

Oct 09
Boston Health Officials Alert Residents About Possible Exposure To Measles

​The Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) confirmed today that a case of measles was diagnosed in a Boston resident on October 6, 2019. During the infectious period, the individual went to locations where other people may have been exposed. This is the first confirmed case of measles in a Boston resident since 2013.

BPHC urges anyone who does not know their measles immunization status to get vaccinated with at least one dose of the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine. Those who have had measles in the past or have received two doses of measles containing vaccine are unlikely to become ill even if exposed.

Exposures to this individual may have occurred at the following locations and times in Boston:

Friday, October 4th 1:30pm to 4:30pm
Render Coffee, 563 Columbus Avenue, South End

Friday, October 4th 2:30pm to 4:45pm
Cafe Madeleine, 517 Columbus Avenue, South End

Friday, October 4th 6:30pm to 9:30pm
Gyroscope, 305 Huntington Avenue, Fenway

Saturday, October 5th 11:30am to 1:35pm
CouCou, 24 Union Park Street, South End

Saturday, October 5th 12:00pm to 2:15pm
Sir Speedy, 827 Boylston Street, Back Bay

People who were at these locations could become ill until October 25 – October 26, 2019 (up to 21 days following potential exposure). Anyone who was exposed and is unclear of their immunization status or begins to develop symptoms of measles should call their healthcare provider.

Measles is very contagious virus that is spread through the air, usually through coughing and sneezing. The virus may remain in the environment for up to two hours after the infectious person has left the area. Exposure can occur even without direct contact with an infectious person. Early symptoms include a high fever, runny nose, cough and red eyes. A skin rash usually occurs three to five days later and begins and flat, red spots on the face.

"This is a dangerous disease, but it is preventable. Getting vaccinated is the best way for everyone to protect themselves from measles," said BPHC Medical Director, Dr. Jennifer Lo.

BPHC is working with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) to contact individuals at high risk for exposure. For additional information, please contact BPHC at 617-534-5611 or MDPH at 617-983-6800.

Fact sheets on measles are available online in English, Arabic, Chinese, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, Spanish and Vietnamese.

Oct 02
BPHC's ​Green & Clean Program: Protecting you and the environment from harmful chemicals

You are being exposed to chemicals every time you go into an auto shop, hair salon, and nail salon. Auto shop workers, hair stylists, and nail technicians are exposed to harmful chemicals with every service they provide. People who spend time in these businesses, especially employees, are exposed when they breathe, if chemicals touch their skin, or if they eat without washing their hands. This exposure can cause health problems, some of which can be life-threatening. The environment and neighborhoods where these businesses are located are also exposed to the chemicals the businesses use. The Green & Clean program protects workers and the public from chemicals and protects the environment. 

How does visiting a Green & Clean business protect me from chemicals? 



Green & Clean businesses use fewer harmful chemicals! Green & Clean businesses have an inspection every year to make sure they are using best practices, such as fewer chemicals. 

How does visiting a Green & Clean business protect the environment? 

Green & Clean businesses also focus on the environment. They recycle and reuse materials, store their chemicals safely, and dispose of waste properly.


How do I know which businesses are Green & Clean? 

Look for the Green & Clean logo. Green & Clean businesses receive a certificate and window decal. You can also see a list of our Green & Clean businesses on our website at www.bphc.org/greenandclean.

Why is Green & Clean’s work important?

Nail technicians and hair stylists are more likely to: 

  • Have trouble breathing 

  • Develop asthma

  • Have miscarriages 

  • Give birth to babies with low birth weight 

  • Develop certain cancers

Auto shop workers are more likely to:

  • Eye, skin, and throat irritation 

  • Develop lung cancer or damage to lungs

  • Develop heart disease

If you are a customer at these salons and shops, you are also exposed to these harsh chemicals. Green & Clean’s work helps protect everyone! 

What can you do? 

Visit a participating business, and tell your friends, family, and neighbors to do the same! To find a Green & Clean business near you, visit www.bphc.org/greenandclean, or call the BPHC Environmental & Occupational Health Division at 617-534-5965. 

If you own a nail salon, hair salon, or auto shop, become a Green & Clean business! Participation is free. To learn how to join, visit www.bphc.org/greenandclean or call 617-534-5965.

Help protect yourself, workers, and the environment from exposure to harmful chemicals. Go Green & Clean today!



Sep 27
World Rabies Day - September 28

​Saturday, September 28th is World Rabies Day. Rabies is a deadly but preventable virus that causes more than 59,000 deaths each year worldwide. This year’s focus is on vaccination, the foundation of all rabies control efforts. Vaccines are available for most household pets. Further, Massachusetts state law requires all dogs to be licensed, which includes providing proof of a current rabies vaccination.


How is Rabies Spread?

Rabies is usually spread through the bite of an animal that has the virus already in them. Rabies spreads quickly, attacking the brain and nervous system. If left untreated, rabies can be deadly. 

In the United States, rabies can be found in racoons, skunks, bats, foxes, coyotes, and woodchucks. The virus is spread through the animal’s saliva when they bite or scratch another animal or person. The virus can also get into the body through the eyes, nose or mouth. Domestic animals like dogs, cats, ferrets and farm animals can get rabies as well. Vaccinating your pets can prevent them from getting rabies.

Symptoms and Treatment:

It can take 2 to 8 weeks for someone to develop symptoms like irritability, paralysis, weakness, seizures, and hallucinations. Rabies is almost always fatal once symptoms appear.

If you have been bitten, scratched or possibly exposed to an animal’s saliva, contact your health care provider or the BPHC Infectious Disease Bureau (617) 534-5611. Prompt treatment will prevent people who come in contact with a rabid animal from getting rabies. Treatment involves 4 or 5 does of rabies vaccine and one dose of Human Rabies Immune Globulin (HRIG). It is also important to call Boston Animal Care and Control at (617) 635-5348 so that the animal can be captured, quarantined and tested for rabies.  

If your pet has been bitten, scratched, or exposed to an animal’s saliva, try to find out what type of animal attacked. Do not touch the attacking animal. Use gloves and a hose to wash your pet’s wound. Do not touch your pet with bare hands. Call your veterinarian and then call the BPHC Infectious Disease Bureau at (617) 534-5611 to find out how to protect yourself.

You can read more about Rabies on our website. Fact sheets are available in English, Chinese, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, Spanish, and Vietnamese.



Sep 25
Ban on the Sale of Vape Products in Massachusetts Issued by Govenor Baker

​The Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) inspectors are actively working to share information about the requirements of the public health emergency declared by Govenor Charlie Baker yesterday with Boston retailers. 

The Governor called for a temporary four-month statewide ban on the sale of flavored and non-flavored vaping products in both retail stores and online. The sales ban applies to all nicotine and marijuana vaping products and devices. The ban takes effect immediately and lasts through January 25, 2020.

Vaping consists of inhaling and exhaling the aerosol (often called vapor) produced by an e-cigarette or similar battery-powered device. E-cigarettes come in many different sizes, types and colors. Some resemble pens, small electronic devices such as USB sticks and other everyday items. The products are often compact and allow for discreet carrying and use – at home, in school hallways and bathrooms and even in classrooms.

MDPH has requested the assistance of BPHC and other local health officials in enforcing Governor Baker's declaration of a public health emergency and MDPH Commissioner's order related to severe lung disease associated with the use of e-cigarettes and vaping products. The order documents and additional background about the Commonwealth's order can be obtained from www.mass.gov/vapingemergency

If vaping products are found being offered for sale during the duration of the order, BPHC will issue a Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) cease and desist letter as instructed by MDPH. 

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) has advised those with general questions related to the enforcement of the emergency order to contact the DPH Massachusetts Tobacco Cessation and Prevention Program at 617-624-5900. 

Under Mayor Walsh's leadership, the Boston Public Health Commission and Board of Health are actively moving forward with engaging the community through a comment period regarding a regulatory proposal to reduce youth nicotine initiation over the long term. BPHC remains committed to permanently closing the menthol loophole for both tobacco and nicotine products as well as ensuring retailer accountability as important next steps to ensure that Boston's young people are protected from lifelong nicotine addiction. You can read more about the proposed changes to regulations online at www.bphc.org/regulations

There are a number of programs in Boston that offer convenient, low-cost tobacco treatment programs to help you break free from addiiton to nicotine. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) today to set up an appointment with a treatment specialist.

Sep 18
Changes to Tobacco and Nicotine Product Sales Regulations Proposed

Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) is proposing regulations aimed at addressing vaping and tobacco use among youth in Boston. Under the proposal, mint and menthol nicotine and tobacco products will only be sold only in verified adult-only tobacco retailers. Staff will now move forward with an engagement process that will include a public comment period and public hearing before a Board of Health vote to approve the amendments. 

"Teen vaping is an epidemic that is particularly alarming because we know that nicotine use at a young age can have the power to lead to a lifelong dependency. The data is undeniable in showing that these amendments would save lives," said Mayor Walsh. "I believe that now is the time to act, and I thank our public health staff for bringing forward a proposal that will ensure Boston has some of the strongest regulations in the country to protect our young people."

Boston continues to be a leader at taking steps at the local level to restrict youth access to tobacco and other nicotine products such as e-cigarettes, vapes and "e-juice," making it among the first jurisdictions in the United States to regulate e-cigarettes and other nicotine products on equal footing with tobacco. In 2015, the Board of Health increased the sales age for nicotine and tobacco products to 21 and restricted the sale of the majority of flavored tobacco and nicotine products to adult-only tobacco retail locations. 

"On behalf of the Board of Health, I am excited that we are moving to address both the long-standing issue of menthol tobacco use as well as the rapidly-emerging issue of youth nicotine use and vaping," said Manny Lopes, chairman of the Board of Health and chief executive officer of East Boston Neighborhood Health Center (EBNHC). "I applaud Mayor Walsh's leadership on this pressing public health issue and look forward to engaging with the community during the public comment period."

Because most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, its use increases the possibility of addiction, particularly to other tobacco products that can cause well-documented health consequences. Vaping products can also cause long-term harm to brain development and respiratory health, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Among high school students who use e-cigarettes, use of any flavored e-cigarettes in 2018 was over 67 percent, and the current use of menthol- or mint-flavored e-cigarettes was over 51 percent. 

The proposed regulatory amendments also seek to address long-standing disparities in tobacco use patterns and associated mortality from diseases such as heart disease, cancer and stroke. BPHC researchers found that among adults in Boston, black adults suffer the greatest burden of tobacco-related mortality of any ethnic or racial group. Tobacco use is a major contributor to the three leading causes of death among African Americans - heart disease, cancer and stroke.

In addition to removing the exemption, the proposal strengthens retailer ID checking requirements and restricts the sale of products that attract young people. BPHC is also supporting Boston Public Schools in efforts to launch a district-wide public awareness prevention campaign focused on youth smoking and vaping, professional development training for teachers and staff, a comprehensive health education curriculum, and referrals to smoking cessation programs.

The Mayor's Office of Health and Human Services and BPHC joined with the Codman Square Neighborhood Council and B.O.L.D. Teens to host a community forum on menthol tobacco and vaping in July 2019. More than 150 people, mostly youth, joined together for a conversation about the ways tobacco and nicotine use negatively impacted their health and their communities. 

"Regulatory changes made over the last decade, combined with efforts to build strong partnerships with schools, health centers and other community organizations, have played important roles in reducing smoking among Boston residents," said Boston Public Health Commission Executive Director Monica Valdes Lupi. "The marketing and retail practices of tobacco companies that have been used for decades to infiltrate our communities of color with menthol tobacco products are unacceptable, and the fact that similar tactics are being used now to target our kids with vaping products demands action."

Further restricting the sale of menthol tobacco products would likely reduce tobacco use overall and particularly in communities of color, potentially reducing disparities in disease and premature death between Boston neighborhoods, and advancing Mayor Walsh's Imagine Boston 2030 goal of reducing disparities in premature mortality between Boston neighborhoods.

With the Board's recommendation to proceed, staff will now start a public engagement process that will include a public hearing on November 7 and a public comment period through November 8, 2019. Written comments can be submitted by email to boardofhealth@bphc.org.       

ABOUT THE BOSTON PUBLIC HEALTH COMMISSION

The Boston Public Health Commission, one of the country's oldest health department, is an independent public agency providing a wide range of health services and programs. It is governed by a seven-member board of health appointed by the Mayor of Boston.

Public service and access to quality health care are the cornerstones of our mission - to protect, preserve, and promote the health and well-being of all Boston residents, particularly those who are most vulnerable. The Commission's more than 40 programs are grouped into six bureaus: Child, Adolescent & Family Health; Community Health Initiatives; Homeless Services; Infectious Disease; Recovery Services; and Emergency Medical Services.

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Boston Public Health Commission
1010 Massachusetts Ave, 6th Floor, Boston, MA 02118.
Phone:(617) 534-5395 Email: info@bphc.org