Childhood Lead Poisoning Report

Last week, DOH released the 2017 Childhood Lead Poisoning Surveillance Report, confirming that the number of poisoned kids remains oppressively intractable with 2,206 poisonings that year. This doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone, of course, because there is still toxic lead paint in many homes with young children.


Drop in Life Expectancy

They were victims of two tragedies – drug overdoses and homicides – now so prevalent in Philadelphia that they’ve helped drive down life expectancy in the nation’s sixth largest city.

Premature deaths have been increasing since 2015, according to the report released this month by the Philadelphia department of public health. Life expectancy began to fall after 2014, the city says. For men, it was 72.4 in 2017, down from 73.2 in 2013. Women had a longer life expectancy at 79.7, but that number has stopped improving.

By Erin Durkin

Rise in Cocaine and Fentanyl Deaths

“It is worth warning people at nightclubs who might use cocaine recreationally about the possibility of fentanyl contamination,” opioids program manager Kendra Viner of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health told BuzzFeed News. But overall, only about 2% of seized cocaine vials in Philadelphia are contaminated by fentanyl.

By Dan Vergano

Naloxone Distribution

Per department spokesperson James Garrow, last year’s distribution efforts ramped up considerably. More than 26,500 doses of naloxone were distributed among first responders, law enforcement agencies, the city’s jail system, and community organizations. By the end of last year, that circulation had nearly doubled to more than 47,700 doses doled out citywide.

By Max Marin

Opioids Guidance

Guidelines such as those written by the CDC and the Philadelphia Department of Public Health hope to reduce the availability of prescription opioids as one solution to combat the epidemic. Instead of opioid medication for pain management, these guidelines recommend that providers offer non-pharmacological treatment such as physical and behavioral therapies. Unfortunately, most people cannot access these treatments or are unaware how they can help — both concerns that likely contributed to the opioid crisis in the first place.

By Amy Janke

Dog Walker Death


On Tuesday, the medical examiner’s office said Justice died of blunt impact injury to the head.

The investigation is ongoing and no arrests have been made at this time.


The Philadelphia Medical Examiner’s Office on Tuesday said the death of 38-year-old Drew Justice, who died Saturday after being punched once in an altercation with another dog walker in a South Philly park, was a homicide.

By Tommy Rowan


The Philadelphia Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed that Justice died of “blunt impact trauma” to the head.

By Bobby Allyn


Justice was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.  The Philadelphia Medical Examiner’s Office ruled Justice’s death a homicide due to blunt impact trauma.


Health of the City Media Coverage


“What surprised me the most was the impact of the opioid crisis on our overall vital statistics,” Health Commissioner Tom Farley said Thursday. “To see life expectancy going in the wrong direction has not occurred in this country for a long time.”

By Aubrey Whelan

Philly Magazine:

The just-released Health of the City report found that drug overdose deaths among Philadelphia residents increased nearly four-fold in recent years, with those deaths making a resounding mark on the city’s overall life expectancy — specifically on the rate of premature deaths (those that occur before age 75).

By Claire Sasko


Raynard Washington, chief epidemiologist for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, said that disparity can be attributed primarily to poverty and social factors.

“Really underlying much of this is the social determinants of health — where people live, the environment in which they live in, their ability to be able to pay their bills, and acquire healthy food at affordable rates,” he said.

By Alan Yu

Al Dia:

Amid a “nearly 4-fold” increase in drug overdose deaths in recent years, and a 14 percent uptick in homicides over the previous year, Philadelphia’s life expectancy declined in 2017, a report released last week by the city’s Department of Public Health found.

By David Maas