Environmental Health Services: Who are we and what we accomplished in 2015

ehlogoEnvironmental Health Services is a division within San Mateo County Health System that ensures the restaurants you frequent are safe, the hotels your family and friends stay at are pest free, and residents and businesses that live or operate in this County are properly disposing of hazardous waste. Our Division is also responsible for protecting water by making sure septic tanks and groundwater are managed properly, graywater is used safely, and so much more! There are approximately 70 of us working on a variety of programs, including our amazing administrative staff.

Now that you know a little more about us, we want to tell you about some of our major accomplishments in 2015.

  • We embraced technology! Field computers and cell phones were issued to all inspectors in 2015, which has allowed for a more streamlined communication and electronic reporting process. The Division even became a statewide leader in incorporating this technology into its Medical Waste and Housing Inspection Programs.
  • In light of the drought and community demand, the Division took initiative to create an “Alternative Water Reuse Program” that includes both graywater and rain water onsite reuse. The program was developed to educate residents and businesses on how to repurpose water used from bathroom sinks, showers, washers, and captured rain water, while keeping the community and environment safe through the creation of procedures and trainings. For more information about this program, visit http://smchealth.org/alternativewater
  • The Food Program initiated the successful passage of the “Food Placarding Program.” The program will train restaurants on how to avoid the top five most common foodborne illnesses while also making food inspection scores easier to understand for the public through a color-coded placarding system. For more information about the program, visit http://smchealth.org/placarding
  • The Pollution Prevention Program spearheaded the adoption of the Safe Medicine Disposal Ordinance. San Mateo County residents will soon have access to a more convenient and safer medicine disposal program that protects families and the environment. For more information about the program and disposal locations, visit http://smchealth.org/epr
  • The Pollution Prevention Program also publicly recognized 13 nail salons that have been certified as a Healthy Nail Salon by the Division. The Division worked with nail salon owners and technicians to ensure safer practices and products used in salons keep indoor air quality less toxic while protecting the health of customers and employees. For more information about this program, visit http://smchealth.org/healthynails
  • The Hazardous Materials Program ensured that 97% of regulated businesses submitted their electronic Hazardous Materials Business Plans. These plans contain information on safe storage of chemicals that firefighters, public safety officers, and health care providers rely on in case of an emergency. For more information about the program, visit http://smchealth.org/cupa/hazardouswaste

2015 was quite busy for Environmental Health and even though it’s over, we are already working towards our 2016 goals. Stay tuned for what we have planned for 2016 by subscribing to our weekly blog!

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