Prevent Cigarette Butt Pollution

Milbrae Receptacle

Have you seen this receptacle before?  In 2016, four cigarette butt receptacles were installed in downtown Millbrae to help smokers have a place to stash their cigarette butts. The receptacles installed reduced butts by 49% near the installation area over a four month period.

Cigarette butts continue to be the most commonly littered item in California for over 27 years. Butts may be little in size, but check out the HUGE  and expensive problem they cause in the infographic below.

Cig butt infographic

When cigarette butts are littered, wind and rain wash them down storm drains, which lead directly to the San Francisco Bay or Pacific Ocean.

storm drain

In an effort to help protect our waterways, wildlife, and your health,  the Pollution Prevention Program wants to make cigarette butt litter disappear and we need your help!

Seals dont smoke

ashtray and window cling

Email with your mailing address to have a pocket ashtray, auto ashtray, and/or car window cling mailed to you.  These items are available while supplies last.

Be Fish Smart in San Francisco Bay


We are so lucky to be able to catch and eat fresh seafood from the San Francisco Bay, but does it always make a healthy dinner?

Continue reading

Dispose of Medicine Safely


safemeds-3788-merchantThere are now over 20 locations where you can go to get rid of unwanted or expired medicine!

Find a location near you that now includes local pharmacies at Don’t see your local pharmacy on the list of collection locations? Ask the owner or manager to join the MED-Project Safe Disposal Program to make medicine disposal more convenient for you and your neighbors!

Continue reading

5 Ways to Reduce Hazardous Waste

Here are five ways to reduce the amount of hazardous waste generated in your home and the time you have to spend disposing of it.


1. Clean Safer
You don’t bake with bleach, but did you know you don’t have to clean with it either? Many ingredients you cook with can also be used to clean your home. Think lemon, vinegar, and baking soda. For cleaning recipes, visit:


2. Rethink Pesticides
Swap toxic pesticides for less-toxic alternatives. Look for this logo when purchasing pest control products at your local hardware store. For more information, visit:


3. Ask for Re-Refined
When getting your next oil change, ask for re-refined oil. Re-refined oil is used motor oil that has been given a new life by being recycled and reprocessed. It’s even better than virgin oil because it saves the planet from having to deplete a non-renewable natural resource: fossil fuels.


4. Purchase Rechargeables
Save thousands of single-use batteries by switching a few out for the rechargeable variety. Rechargeable batteries may cost more upfront, but last longer and can save you money in the long run.


5. Look into LEDs
The next time your light burns out, consider switching to more energy efficient and mercury-free LED lights. LEDs also last longer than compact fluorescent lights (CFLs).

Dispose of Hazardous Waste Properly
Used, expired, unwanted, or leftover hazardous products don’t belong in the trash. Visit: to find out where these items go.

Because Pretty Shouldn’t Stink

Does your favorite nail salon have one of these?


Certified Healthy Nail Salons that provide acrylic nail services in San Mateo County do!

The filtration system allows you to breathe easier knowing it’s there to protect your health by reducing hazardous fumes and dust that are emitted from chemicals in acrylic powders and liquids, nail polishes, and removers.

For over three years, San Mateo County has continued to partner with certified salons by providing a filtration system and continuing education on how to protect everyone’s health while in the salon.

Today the Program proudly recognizes 14 salons in the County and over 100 salons throughout the state of California, and the number of certified salons
keeps growing.

Is your go-to salon not certified? Give us a call, and we’ll help your salon “get the
stink out” by asking them to join the Healthy Nail Salon Program for free at (650) 339 9526.


For a complete list of certified salons, and to get text or email discounts to a certified salon of up to $5 off, visit

Healthy Nail Salon Program Wins Harvard’s Roy Award

148124317831308San Mateo County’s Healthy Nail Salon Program Coordinator, Kathryn Cooke, ventured to Boston in November to accept the 2016 Roy Family Award for Environmental Partnership given by Harvard University on behalf of the County.

The program is a partnership between nail salons, the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative, Asian Health Services, and the counties of San Mateo, San Francisco, Alameda, Santa Clara, and the City of Santa Monica. The purpose of the program is to improve ventilation and protect nail salon workers and customers from hazardous chemicals found in nail products.

Continue reading

San Mateo County Wins Exciting Awards

Elizabeth Rouan and her award.

Elizabeth Rouan and her award.

San Mateo County attended a statewide conference in early November and came back with two awards we are very proud to share!

Continue reading

Spotlight on Our Shores

Rockaway Beach sunset by C. Knowles

Rockaway Beach sunset by C. Knowles

By Cynthia Knowles, Pollution Prevention Specialist, San Mateo County Environmental Health

I have the honor of living in what I believe to be one of the most striking, beautiful places anywhere – the San Mateo County coast. And it’s full of wonders. Pedro Point sunsets, whales swimming alongside surfers at Montara state beach, Mavericks beach…Dually exhilarating AND calming.

For some, a sense of place is not just an address, but a personal experience, relationship or connection; an area rich in unique characteristics, including cultural ones, that make it special. My strong attachment to a sense of place helps define who I am and where I belong.

Continue reading

San Mateo County Getting Ready to Debut New Placarding System for Restaurants

San Mateo County will be rolling out a food placarding system beginning January 1, 2016

San Mateo County will be rolling out a food placarding system beginning January 1, 2016

San Mateo County diners will soon have a quick and easy way to see if their favorite eateries are complying with County food safety regulations.

Starting January 2016, San Mateo County will join other counties throughout the Bay Area and northern California in using the colored-coded placarding system. The system consists of using green (pass), yellow (conditional pass) and red (closure) placards to determine a facility’s food safety status. They will be displayed and clearly visible for the public to see how a restaurant has scored on their food safety inspection, often placed in a window at eye level.

Continue reading

Healthy and Safe Swimming Pools

Keeping pools operating properly is an issue of public health and safety

Keeping pools operating properly is an issue of public health and safety

Swimming in a public pool can be one of the greatest joys of summer. Pools are a great place to spend time with friends, soak up the sunshine, and stay cool! Most of us know there are safety rules at pools—how many times have you heard your parent or lifeguard say “no running!!” Have you ever thought about other safety and health issues for public pools? Things like: how the pool was designed, whether the filtration system works properly, proper fencing to prevent drowning, and reminder signs? And what about spas? Is the water temperature set correctly? Who is maintaining the proper chemical balance to maintain sanitation without making swimmers sick from too much or too little chemicals? Continue reading