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A Public Health Week Q and A on environmental health

A Public Health Week Q and A on environmental health
Leigh Broderick (Carroll County Health Department)

It’s National Public Health Week and each day the Times is exploring a different aspect of the Carroll County Health Department’s efforts to keep Carroll healthy.

“National Public Health Week is a time to recognize the often invisible work done by our local, state, and national public health departments to keep the public healthy and safe,” said Dr. Henry Taylor, deputy health officer at the Health Department.

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An annual campaign of the American Public Health Association, National Public Health week is built around an overall theme, with “Healthiest Nation 2030 ” being the theme for 2018. Additionally, each day of the week has it’s own sub-theme: Behavioral health for Monday, communicable diseases on Tuesday, environmental health on Wednesday, injuries and preventing violence on Thursday and the right to a healthy life on Friday.

With the theme of environmental health set for Wednesday, the Times caught up with Leigh Broderick, director of the Health Department’s Bureau of Environmental Health to learn more about what he and his bureau do for the people of Carroll.

Q: What does the Health Department’s Bureau of Environmental Health do?

A: The Carroll County Bureau of Environmental Health aims to protect the health of Carroll County residents and visitors. Our efforts focus on safe food supplies, safe drinking water, effective wastewater disposal, prevention of the spread of vector and foodborne illnesses, and safe living environments. We partner with other community organizations to provide education, enforcement, and community outreach.

Q: What services do you provide directly to the public?

A: We provide guidance on safe food handling; issue well and septic permits and provide guidance on the proper maintenance of these systems; and follow up on animal bites and scratches, manage quarantines, provide testing, and determine if there is any risk of rabies transmission. We provide education on diseases people can get from mosquitoes or ticks, such as West Nile Virus and Lyme disease. We can also provide information on household hazards such as radon and lead.

Q: What services do you provide behind the scenes that keep the public healthy?

A: We inspect restaurants and issue food permits to ensure the food served to the public is safe. Also, we track reports of foodborne illness to help prevent or stop outbreaks. We inspect public swimming pools and issue operating permits for them. We review development plans to ensure new subdivisions and commercial sites will not put the environment or public health at risk. We work with schools, child care facilities, camps, and pools to educate staff on health and safety regulations. We review building permits to make sure a site can support the proposed construction in terms of water supply and wastewater disposal. We review water sample results and provide guidance when problems arise.

Q: What is one thing you wish more people knew about Environmental Health?

A: That all of our decisions stem from our mission to protect public health. That mission also permeates the regulations that we have been delegated to enforce. We prefer having things go smoothly and if we note a problem during an inspection or are unable to approve a permit, there is a reason. We will try to communicate that reason clearly. Education is as much our mission as enforcement, or even more. Our job is made easier when home or business owners, builders, or others in the community understand the science behind the regulations.

Q: Do you have any upcoming events?

A: We offer two low-cost rabies vaccination clinics each year for dogs, cats, and ferrets. The next clinic will be 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, April 22, at the Carroll County Agriculture Center, 706 Agriculture Center Dr., Westminster. Cost is just $7/pet and vaccines are provided by licensed veterinarians.

Q: How can people learn more about services in the Bureau of Environmental Health?

A: People can visit our web pages by visiting cchd.maryland.gov/environmental-health/. They can also call 410-876-1884 for more information.

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