According to the World Health Organization (WHO), environmental health addresses all the physical, chemical, and biological factors external to a person, and all the related factors impacting behaviors. It encompasses the assessment and control of those environmental factors that can potentially affect health. It is targeted toward preventing disease and creating health-supportive environments. This WHO definition excludes behavior not related to environment, as well as behavior related to the social and cultural environment and genetics.
The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) has several programs addressing environmental health spread throughout all three ODH divisions, but most reside in the Bureau of Environmental Health in the Division of Prevention. This bureau also works closely with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA), as well as local, federal and other state partners.
Environmental Health Data System Integration Project
In 2010, the Ohio Department of Health, Bureau of Environmental Health began discussion about the integration of environmental health program data. The goal of the project was to develop an integrated environmental health networking system to be used by the Ohio Department of Health, local health districts and industry partners. The centralized data solution would not only improve efficiencies in monitoring, reporting and communication, but also foster collaboration among participants and stakeholders. To obtain more in depth information about this project please see EHDSI Project.
Details about ODH's environmental health programs follow.
The Asbestos program licenses and certifies companies and persons directly involved with the asbestos abatement industry.
Asthma is a serious chronic disease of the air passages of the lungs. ODH's Asthma Program's goal is to reduce the effects of asthma on Ohio residents in two ways: supporting the Ohio Asthma Coalition and developing the Ohio Surveillance System for Asthma.
The Bathing Beach Monitoring Program's goal is to assure a safe and healthy aquatic recreational environment by protecting the bathing public from risks of contracting waterborne diseases from exposure to contaminated waters. This program is a cooperative effort of ODH, the
Ohio Department of Natural Resources, local health departments
with public beaches within their jurisdictions and private and public organizations along the Lake Erie border and throughout Ohio.
The Food Safety Program provides assistance in all aspects of food safety to local health department staff, the food service industry and the general public. Technical experts are available to provide current information on food safety as it applies to licensable food service operations.
ODH's Health Assessment Section (HAS), in parentership with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), a U.S. Public Health Service Agency, serves the public by using the best environmental science, providing accurate health information and taking public health actions to prevent harmful exposures and disease related to toxic substances.The HAS works closely with federal, state and local partners to investigate and eliminate the public health threat posed by toxic substances in the environment.
Lead is known to have harmful effects on the heart, kidneys and the reproductive, nervous and hematological systems of the human body. ODH has several lead-related programs.
The Ohio Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program addresses the needs of lead-poisoned children from birth through 72 months of age. The program assists family members, medical care providers and other community members to reduce and prevent lead poisoning.
ODH's Lead Poisoning Prevention Program ensures the public receives safe and proper lead abatement, detection and analytical services by requiring those services be conducted according to federal and state regulations by trained and licensed personnel.
All blood lead test results must be reported to the Adult Blood Lead Epidemiology and Surveillance (ABLES) program, which tracks and maintains the data.
The Indoor Environment Program is dedicated to helping prevent or resolve a variety of health problems associated with indoor air pollution. Examples of such problems include asthma, sick building syndrome and accidental carbon monoxide poisoning.
Manufactured Home Parks
Manufactured home parks, described as any tract of land upon which three or more manufactured homes used for habitation are parked, are regulated in Ohio and are subject to the rules for construction, drainage, flood plain management, sanitation, safety and operation.
Private Water Systems
Private Water Systems are potable water wells, ponds, springs, cisterns and hauled water storage tanks that provide drinking water to fewer than 25 people, less than 60 days out of the year, and have fewer than 15 service connections. These would include single water supplies that serve homes, small businesses, small churches, small mobile home parks or communities with fewer than 25 residents. The Ohio EPA regulates public water systems.
Elevated levels of indoor radon, above the guidelines published by the U.S. EPA, is the primary cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. ODH’s Indoor Radon Program implements an extensive Outreach and Education Program serving the residents of Ohio, utilizing resources at both the state and local level.
ODH’s Indoor Radon Program implements a Radon Licensing Program that licenses and inspects/audits companies and persons directly involved with the radon testing and mitigation industry.
Ohio-specific radon information including home testing results by county and zip code are maintained by the Ohio Radon Information System.
RV Parks, Campgrounds
Recreational vehicle (RV) parks and campgrounds are regulated in Ohio and are subject to rules for construction, layout, drainage, sanitation, safety and operation. Rules also provide minimum standards for the construction and sanitary operation of resident camps and day camps.
School Environmental Health
ODH's School Environmental Health Program woks to improve the environmental health of Ohio’s schools through non-regulatory means. Staff provide technical assistance and training to local health departments, school personnel and the general public. In 2006, the Ohio General Assembly passed Substitute House Bill 203, also known as Jarod’s Law. This bill required sanitarians from local health departments to conduct annual inspections of the school buildings and associated grounds contained within their jurisdictions to identify health and safety concerns. As part of this legislation, Ohio Administrative Code chapter 3701-54 was created. As of October 16, the law and rules governing school inspections under Jarod’s Law have been repealed by the Ohio Legislature. Local health departments are still required to conduct inspections and will decide on an individual basis the method they will use for these inspections ODH, in conjunction with many representatives from school organizations and public health, has created the Ohio School Environmental Health and Safety Inspection Guidance Manual. Ohio School Environmental Health and Safety Inspection Guidance Manual. This manual provides recommendations that are designed to establish a safe and healthy environment in school buildings throughout the state.
Sewage Treatment Systems
Sewage Treatment Systems rules in Ohio have gone through various changes in recent history. These rules address systems that treat sewage for homes and businesses not served by public sewer systems.
Swimming Pools and Spas
Rules for public swimming pools or spas in Ohio establish minimum standards, applicable throughout Ohio, for the design, installation, operation and maintenance of these facilities in order to protect the bathing public from injury, minimize the potential for disease transmission and provide a safe and healthy aquatic recreational environment.