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Environmental Health Preparedness

Environmental Health

Florida Department of Health in Indian River County ((DOH-Indian River) Environmental Health section prepares and will be involved in response and recovery activities that protect Indian River County’s residents and visitors against injury and disease related to any manmade or natural extraordinary event. The Indian River County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) will be activated and is the focal point for response and recovery activities during an extraordinary event. Environmental Health achieves this by controlling environmental risks through a comprehensive set of surveillance, investigative, and science-based environmental health standards and programs listed below:

  • Food Safety: Surveillance of all storage handling, preparation and disposal of food in places regulated by DOH-Indian River. Advise the public on the safety of existing food supplies. Inspect temporary food operations at shelters and mass feeding sites set-up for disaster response. Locate and inspect feeding stations (Red Cross, Salvation Army, Shelters, and Community Reception Centers). Investigate complaints that may constitute an immediate public health risk.
  • Potable Water Safety: Assuring the public where and how safe drinking water can be acquired. Assess and monitor public drinking water systems to ensure that boiled water notices are issued to their customers and that water meets minimum federal safe drinking water standards. Drinking water systems will be contacted to verify status. DOH-Indian River will provide water sampling and laboratory analysis support.
  • Radiation Exposure Prevention: Assist Florida Department of Health, Bureau of Radiation Control, which is the lead agency for events of this type, as requested. Support operations should there be a release of radiation from the St. Lucie Nuclear Power Plant requiring initiation of its Emergency Response Distribution of Potassium Iodide (KI) for the Public. Work in conjunction with other agencies should evaluation determine that radiation has affect the ingestion pathway.
  • Hazardous Material Exposure Prevention: DOH-Indian River, through Emergency Support Function (ESF) #10, Oils and Hazardous Material Response, will assist local Emergency Medical Services and First Responders in determining the type of Hazardous Material, and the extent of public health risk and exposure pathways. Assist in implementation and activation of event response plan devised for the particular incident. When assessing public health threats from known releases or presence of hazardous materials in the environment, education of the affected public as to the health risks posed by chemical agents and environmental clean-up and disposal of wastes. Ensure that biomedical waste continues to be disposed of by generators in a safe manner according to State rules. DOH-Indian River, through ESF-8, Health and Medical, will coordinate the delivery of medical support services to victims of hazardous materials incidents. Provide for legal enforcement with recommendation of Environmental Control Hearing Board legal staff.
  • Sanitary Nuisance Exposure Prevention: Inspect and evaluate reports of potential sanitary nuisances. Issue notices regarding recreational waters, when appropriate.
  • Zoonotic and Other Vector-borne Disease Exposure Prevention: Assist and/or support agencies in the control of mosquitoes, flies, rodents and with related public health issues. Provide public education and information on rodent control, abatement and community hygiene.
  • Solid Waste Management and Disposal: DOH-Indian River Environmental Health staff will investigate sanitary nuisance complaints related to the effective storage, collection and disposal of garbage. Assist Indian River County Soil Waste Disposal District for solid waste disposal and Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) with environmental issues related to disposal sites.
  • Environmental Epidemiology: DOH-Indian River will investigate reports of foodborne, waterborne, vector borne and other diseases of animal or environmental origin. EH will provide surveillance for injury prevention and vector borne disease control. Corrective actions may require control measures and additional inspections. Issues of non-compliance will be forwarded to the Environmental Control Hearing Board Office for legal review.
  • Group Care Safety: DOH-Indian River Environmental Health staff perform damage assessments of DOH regulated group care and residential care facilities. These may include adult living, residential treatment, and detention facilities, as well as public and private schools. This assessment includes an overall status of the facility, power supply, potable water supply, food service operations and supplies, biomedical waste disposal, sewage disposal and any other observed public health threat.
  • Outdoor and Indoor Air Quality: DOH-Indian River Environmental Health has no jurisdiction regarding outdoor air quality. Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is the lead agency in an emergency with potential environmental impacts. DOH-Indian River will provide support to the DEP in educating the public as to the potential health risks and protective measures for minimizing exposure to outdoor air based on the release of known toxic substances. Provide educational materials or information to the public related to outdoor and indoor air hazards. DOH-Indian River may perform indoor air quality assessments; this includes a visual inspection with recommendations. Typically, DOH-Indian River has no enforcement authority.
  • Sewage and Wastewater Disposal: Sanitation: Surveillance of sewage disposal practices. Advising the public how to provide temporary sanitary toilet and bathing facilities. Evaluation of sewer lift stations in affected areas. Residential areas and/or facility may require portable toilets, hand washing stations, dumpsters and showers. Issue advisories about dangers of storm water (floodwaters). Spills will be reported to the State Watch Office at 800-320-0519.
  • General Sanitation: Provide surveillance and facility monitoring to help assure the safety and well-being of clients and others in public shelters. Inspect migrant labor housing, mobile home and recreational vehicle parks, and temporary housing to evaluate sewage disposal systems, water potability and other sanitary conditions.

During an extraordinary event, DOH-Indian River will provide communications to educate and advise Indian River County residents and visitors. DOH-Indian River Environmental Health staff locally support Indian River County and some staff support regional and state response efforts in Environmental Health and Environmental Epidemiology.