STDs on the Rise in Rockland

Rockland County Board of Health addresses STDs increase, illegal dumping, code violations

BY MICHAEL RICONDA

The Rockland County Board of Health met at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, August 15 to address several health code violations and matters of public health.

Among the biggest issues were two new items of business on a recently-released study on the prevalence of sexually-transmitted diseases in Rockland and garbage dumping at Orchard Hills Park.

The recently-released infectious disease report states that rates of sexually-transmitted diseases are increasing in Rockland County. Specific mention was given to rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis.

The study caught the attention of the Board of Health and presents a major public health concern, especially for adolescents. It has also prompted the board to plan for improved awareness in schools and public health facilities to help reduce the incidence of infection and communicate crucial information on prevention and treatment of STDs.

Rates of HIV infection were not mentioned in the board meeting, but according to New York Department of Health statistics from 2007 to 2009, the HIV infection rate per 100,000 people in Rockland County was slightly higher than the average rate for areas of the state outside of New York City, though not by a great amount.

The Town of Ramapo had been using Portrait Hills Park to deposit solid wastes into a large pile not far from a children’s playground, resulting in wastewater seeping into puddles and the potential for groundwater contamination. The deposited garbage included animal carcasses which had been removed from roads and had been decomposing at the dumping site, producing strong odors and attracting vultures.

Though the dump site is being cleared of garbage and treated for groundwater contamination, it was brought to the Board’s attention that the Rockland Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has not classified street-sweepings as a regulated waste material.

In response, Board of Health President Jeffrey Oppenheim, M.D. recommended that the board should look into encouraging the DEC to reclassify and possibly establish new waste management facilities to process street-sweepings.

Additional items on the agenda addressed fines for tobacco and body art businesses, garbage flow control violations, housing safety violations, and mosquito control violations, including several fines incurred as a result of a survey intended to inspect various tire facilities. In addition, two locations in Valley Cottage and Suffern were fined for a failure to provide mosquito treatment for outdoor swimming pools.

Included in the housing violations was a fine of $2,250 and an order to vacate for Michael and Theresa Galgano of Tompkins Cove, who built an unapproved fire ladder for their three-story property which they have failed to remove.

Also included was a fine of $2,950 for Luma Charles of West Haverstraw for loose electrical wiring and a fine of $1,700 for John and Antonia Haughey of New City for failure to repair and seal off access to a damaged deck.