Environmental Health is a broad term that covers many topics. The community decides which topics are important and provides local programs that are designed to address these topics.
The Environmental Health Division is responsible for several programs which include:
The mission of the Environmental Health Division is to identify and correct conditions in the environment that may cause disease or disease outbreaks. This is accomplished primarily by performing inspections. To be effective in accomplishing our mission, Environmental Health uses several methods to prevent illness and unsanitary conditions. These approaches may include education, advisement, consultation, regulation, investigation and enforcement.
The Environmental Health Division of the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District consists of a program administrator, an inspection supervisor, a senior sanitarian, five sanitarians, two inspectors, an environmental inspector, two customer service representatives and a part time secretary. Their territory covers all of McLennan County including each incorporated city and the City of Waco.
The food establishment program is remarkably comprehensive. A variety of establishments are inspected and permitted where food is stored, prepared, served, or sold. This includes establishments such as restaurants, convenience stores, grocery stores, cafeterias, schools, nursing homes, bars, mobile food vendors and temporary food booths at special events.
Several methods are used to effectively regulate food establishments. These include administrative tasks, education, advisement and consultation, inspection and investigation, regulation, and enforcement.
The division provides food education classes at two levels:
Annual sanitation inspections of licensed childcare facilities are performed under the guidelines of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, Department of Family and Protective Services, Child Care Regulatory Services Division. These inspections ensure a healthy environment for children. Inspections are also provided for foster and adoptive homes upon request.
Public and semipublic pools and spas throughout McLennan County are permitted and inspected each year. These facilities are typically located at hotels, motels, fitness clubs, apartments, neighborhoods, and on city property. These inspections ensure that water quality and all pool facilities are safely maintained.
Complaint investigation and requests for assistance are regular duties in the Environmental Health Division. Inspections are performed due to various conditions regarding health nuisances. These nuisances include those related to food, property conditions, mosquitoes and rodents, premise sanitation, and improper solid waste/wastewater disposal. If Environmental Health staff is unable to address the problem, the individual requesting assistance will be referred to the proper agency.
The Environmental Health Division is part of the public health response team to investigate disease outbreaks and respond to disasters and other major emergencies.
The Health District encourages the cities within McLennan County to adopt smoking ordinances to provide smoke free indoor environments. Environmental Health provides information about these regulations and enforces the smoking ordinance as necessary. The cities within McLennan County that have adopted a smoking ordinance are:
The On-Site Sewage Facilities (OSSF) program regulates all installations and maintenance of septic systems and other types of sewage disposal systems. This program is comprehensive to prevent health hazards and water pollution by regulating, properly planning and inspecting the location, design, construction, installation, operation and maintenance of all on-site sewage disposal systems.
Environmental health is a broad term that encompasses a variety of subjects including, but not limited to, air, water, solid waste, food, and sanitation. Since the Environmental Health Division addresses only a portion of these topics, we provide information and referrals about additional topics as requested. The sanitarians are available to speak to groups about the environmental health topics addressed by our division.
Coordination with other agencies is also a vital task of the Environmental Health Division. Efforts are coordinated on a regular basis with state agencies such as the Texas Department of State Health Services, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, Child Care Regulatory Services Division. Environmental Health also coordinates with local government agencies on a frequent basis. As an example, the sanitarians coordinate inspection activities with the Code Enforcement and Inspections Departments of all cities in McLennan County.