What is Environmental Health?

Environmental Health is a field of science that studies how environmental factors influence human health and disease. This includes things in the natural environment like air, water and soil, and the physical, chemical, biological, social and psychosocial features of our surroundings.

It also refers to the theory and practice of assessing, correcting, controlling, and preventing those factors in the environment that may adversely affect the health of present and future generations, with the aim of preventing disease and creating healthy-supportive environments.

The man-made, or “built,” environment includes physical structures where people live and work such as homes, offices, schools, farms and factories, as well as community systems such as roads and transportation systems, land use practices, and waste management and the consequences of human alteration to the natural environment, such as air and noise pollution. The social environment encompasses lifestyle factors like diet and exercise, socioeconomic status, and other societal influences that may affect health.

The role of an Environmental Health Officer in local government includes, but is not limited to the following –

  • Food Act 2006 – Assessment and approval of new food businesses, routine inspections of existing premises, responding to complaints about food safety, undertaking enforcement for breaches of the Act.
  • Public Health Act 2005 – Vector control for Dengue fever and other exotic diseases, management of asbestos related complaints, assessment and approval of higher risk personal appearance services (e.g.- tattoo parlours), inspections and related enforcement for all local government public health risks as defined in the Act.
  • Food Act 2006 – Assessment and approval of new food businesses, routine inspections of existing premises, responding to complaints about food safety, undertaking enforcement for breaches of the Act.
  • Public Health Act 2005 – Vector control for Dengue fever and other exotic diseases, management of asbestos related complaints, assessment and approval of higher risk personal appearance services (e.g.- tattoo parlours), inspections and related enforcement for all local government public health risks as defined in the Act.
  • Waste Reduction and Recycling Act 2011 – Investigation and enforcement of illegal dumping or littering.
  • Local Laws – Assessment and approval of new accommodation facilities (i.e. – Caravan Parks, Camping Grounds and Shared Facility accommodation), assessment and approval of public swimming pools, assessment and approval of temporary entertainment events, undertaking investigation and enforcement of Local Law breaches.
  • Environmental Protection Act 1994 – Assessment and approval of regulated activities (e.g.- Boat Maintenance or Repair business), providing environmental health related advice on planning applications and investigations and related enforcement for:

– Environmental nuisance (e.g. – noise, dust, odour, light, smoke).

– Environmental harm

– Prescribed contaminants in waters (e.g.- oil spill, sediment and erosion from building sites)

– De-watering and acid sulphate soil management.

Environmental Protection

Council’s Environmental Health and Regulatory Unit is responsible for implementing specific provisions of the Environmental Protection Act 1994.

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Environmental Nuisance

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IMPORTANT LINKS

WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION

NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH SCIENCES