While the Environmental Public Health programs have a wide variety of duties, much of what we do to protect public health can be summarized into these six activities:
Outreach and Education:
We provide information and training to the regulated communities and the public. Business and industry have numerous federal, state, and local environmental rules that need to be followed in order to protect public health and the environment. We work with the regulated community to keep them informed of current and new regulations. We strive to keep the public informed of the environmental public health of Linn County, how the regulated community is meeting their legal requirements, and how individuals can do their part to maintain a safe and healthy environment.
We monitor the environment for pollution. This may be through collection of water samples from wells or pools, paint, dust, radon, and indoor air pollutants in homes, or our outdoor air quality monitoring stations in Linn County. Samples are analyzed and data is reported to the public about immediate health concerns and to the appropriate state and federal agency regarding compliance with state and national standards. In addition, we monitor and assess chronic health conditions such as asthma, lung cancer, and lead poisoning.
The Linn County Code of Ordinance (LCCO) has several chapters to protect public health and the environment. These chapters include regulations for Air Quality, Nonpublic Water Wells, Private Sewage Disposal Systems (aka Septic Systems), and Property Maintenance. Local rules are updated as necessary to stay current with the ever-changing regulatory environment. In addition to enforcing these rules, LCPH has agreements with local municipalities and the State of Iowa to administrate rules for food establishments, hotels, public swimming pools and spas, tanning and tattoo parlors, and lead poisoning protection.
Permitting & Licensing:
Permits or licenses are issued prior to the commencement of an act that may have the potential to impact public health and the environment. Such acts are defined by the above mentioned regulations and may include the opening of a retail food establishment, industrial source of air pollution, or installation of a nonpublic water well. Permits establish construction, operating, testing, monitoring, record keeping, and reporting requirements for the owner/operator of the facility.
Inspecting & Assessment:
Regulated organizations from major industries to school cafeterias are routinely inspected to verify compliance with regulations and the conditions of their permits and licenses. When deviations are found, we work with the business to make immediate corrections, which are usually confirmed with a follow-up inspection.
In cases where regulated organizations have an egregious violation or are repeatedly failing to comply, then we may take legal action. Working with the County Attorney's Office, we may issue citations and penalties for those parties, corrective action orders, or temporarily close the business or facility until they can operate in compliance.
Environmental Health Branches
Linn County Public Health is supported by three sections that provide the environmental services for Linn County. These services seek to address indoor and outdoor air quality, and prevention of water and food-borne illnesses. The sections associated with the environmental services at LCPH include Air Quality Control, Environmental Quality, and Healthy Homes.
Air Quality Control:
Administers federal, state, and local air quality rules for utilities, business, and industry.
Administers state and local rules for food safety, private/semi-public wells, septic systems, public swimming pools, hotels, and tanning and tattoo parlors.
Provides services to reduce or eliminate environmental hazards in your home, daycare, and school including lead, radon, asthma triggers, and pesticides use.