Environmental Health Services
Following are a list of services that are administered by the Environmental Health Office in each county:
1. On-site Sewage Systems: This program regulates the location and installation of various types of septic tank systems. This is the largest of our programs, probably taking up 75% of the staff’s time. Permits must be obtained before the installation of a sewage system. The purpose of the rules and regulations are to protect the ground and surface waters of the state from contamination with disease causing bacteria and virus, thus protecting the public health of our citizens. There were 3,412 permits and 3,4467 inspections in FY’05. (July, 2004 thru June 30, 2005)
2. Food Service: All establishments that prepare and serve food to the public are inspected a minimum of two times per year. Some counties have been striving to inspect on a quarterly schedule. These facilities include restaurants, school cafeterias, hospital cafeterias, temporary est. The purpose of the rules and regulations for food service is to prevent food-borne illnesses from occurring. There were 910 establishments and 2,361 routine inspections made in FY’05.
3. Tourist Accommodations: Motels, hotels, bed and breakfast inns, RV parks and campgrounds are inspected for cleanliness and compliance with state rules and regulations. Facilities on wells and septic tank sewage systems are further inspected to insure safe drinking water and a properly functioning sewage system. Facilities are inspected routinely two times a year. There were 64 establishments and 115 inspections made in FY’05.
4. Swimming Pools: Statewide rules now required all public pools to be permitted and inspected through the County Health Department. The pools are checked for proper chemical balance, disinfectant, and operating procedures. Pool plans are reviewed for proper equipment prior to opening. Pools are checked at least once a year and sometimes twice. The purpose of this program is to prevent accidental drownings and the contracting of communicable diseases while using the pool. There were 243 public pools and 508 inspections made in FY’05.
5. Institutions: This program is primarily carried out on a request basis. The Department of Family and Children Services will ask the Environmental Health staff to inspect a foster or an adoptive home. Well water is checked, sewage systems are inspected for malfunctions, dogs are checked for rabies vaccination and general cleanliness of the prospective home is observed. Also mental health group facilities are inspected upon request. There were 41 inspection performed in FY’05.
6. Rabies Control: Through state law the County Health Departments are responsible for adopting rabies control rules and appointing a Rabies Control Officer for the Health Department. This person is usually the Environmental Health County Manager or the lead Environmentalist in the County. The purpose of this program is to protect the public from rabies through the investigation of animal bites. Animal heads are sent to the State lab for testing and pets are quarantined and observed. In some counties there is a joint cooperative effort with the local animal control and the veterinarians. The veterinarians hold rabies vaccination clinics for dogs and cats each year. There were 412 animal to human bites investigated, 17 animal to animal incidents investigated, and 51 animal heads sent to be tested in FY’05. One animal head was found to be positive and 14 individuals received treatment (post-exposure vaccine) in FY’05.
7. West Nile Virus: This virus can be very serious in immune compromised individuals and the elderly. The District has in years past been sending in dead birds and mosquitoes for testing for the virus. This was done under a grant from CDC and the state Division of Public Health. The past year saw a termination of funds. In FY’05, 23 pools of mosquitoes were sent for testing with none positive for West Nile. 185 calls were received of dead bird sightings. We are not currently sending any specimens for testing.
8. Individual Water Supplies: Upon request water samples are collected and sent to lab for bacteriological analysis. In some cases owners are referred to private labs. Well owners are advised as to proper disinfection and protection from contamination . As part of the sewage system permitting procedure the proper location of the well is noted. With the continuing expansion of public water, the involvement in this service has declined significantly. There were 497 site evaluations, 71 systems evaluated, and 58 samples collected in FY’06.
9. Lead Poisoning Prevention: This program is offered through the District, with at present, two County Environmentalists carry out the work load. A grant enables sampling, testing and consultation. The program covers three Districts, namely Gainesville, Dalton, and Rome.
10. Complaints: Complaints are handled as part of each program listed above. Where the complaint is determined to be a health hazard then follow-up is warranted. This can lead to taking the violator to magistrate court or working with the County attorney to resolve the problem. When the complaint is deemed to be within the jurisdiction of another agency a referral is made. Complaints are often time consuming and difficult to resolve. Various programs and the number of complaints in FY’05 were:
Sewage -739; Food – 225; Tourist Accommodations – 15; Swimming Pools – 31. Other complaints received by the Environmental Health offices numbered 775, of these 640 were referred.
11. Fees: Over the years the County Boards of Health and Commissioners have approved fees to be charged for the various Environmental Health programs. This has been very beneficial and has allowed hiring of staff needed to properly carry out the mandated programs. In FY’05 some $1,173,948 was collected. The fees fluctuate and are dependent upon the home building industry.
If you do not find the program you are looking for on this site, please use the following link to find the appropriate EPD listing. Georgia EPD Program Directory