Fifty-one of the 58 California counties have Environmental Health Departments or divisions. Thirty-three of these departments are located within County Health Agencies, with the balance located in other agencies or as separate agencies. Four California cities (Berkeley, Long Beach, Pasadena, and Vernon) have comprehensive Environmental Health Departments. The State Department of Health Service’s Rural Health Division’s Environmental Health Unit provides environmental health services to 10 of the smaller counties.
County environmental health programs are intended to protect the health, safety, and well-being of the public and preserve and improve the quality of the environment. Legal authority for these programs is contained in the California Health and Safety Code; California Code of Regulations Title 17 and Title 22, and local ordinances and regulations.
Eleven counties provide comprehensive environmental health services within a single agency, while the others provide the majority of services in one dedicated agency.
There are twelve basic programs within the broader responsibilities of local Environmental Health Departments.
These programs are:
- Food Sanitation and Consumer Protection – Retail and consumer protection; Sherman Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Law; water vending machines; milk product plan inspection; and food facility plan check and construction.
- Housing and Institutions – Employee housing, substandard housing, motels/hotels, detention facilities, organized camps, and mobilehome camps.
- Recreational Health – Lakes, streams, and beaches; public swimming pools and spas; and public pool plan check and construction.
- Water Quality – Small water system regulations, private well construction, and cross connection control.
- Land Use
- Solid Waste (local enforcement agency)
- Liquid Waste (on-site sewage and graywater))
- Hazardous Materials-Waste – Proposition 65 reporting, business plans for hazardous materials storage, hazardous waste generators, hazardous waste management plans and emergency response.
- Household Hazardous Waste
- Medical Waste
- Underground Storage Tanks
- Groundwater and Soil Clean-up
The environmental health departments are supported by the California Conference of Directors of Environmental Health (CCDEH), an affiliate of CSAC.