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The Florida Department of Health works to protect, promote & improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county & community efforts.

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Environmental Health Preparedness

Contact: Florida Health

During emergencies, we can provide guidance to both Incident Command and county health departments regarding possible human health risks from environmental components. We can also provide information to be used by the county health departments during responses that involve accidental spills, waste disposal, and water contamination. To maximize our success, we conduct trainings and exercises with our partners throughout the state.

COVID-19 Information for EH
Protecting drinking water supplies
Controlling food and waterborne illness
Controlling biomedical waste
Preventing chemical exposure
EH Preparedness Publications

Protecting drinking water supplies

During an emergency involving public water system contamination, approved County Health Departments and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) in coordination with the Florida Department of Health takes actions necessary to protect the health of the public, such as issuing a precautionary boil water notice. County Health Departments can assist by notifying potentially affected Floridians.

We have a parcel-based inventory indicating the drinking water source and wastewater disposal method for developed parcels throughout the State of Florida. This inventory helps to improve estimations of the potential impact to public health and the environment during a disaster. This inventory also assists with allocating resources efficiently.

County health departments can provide educational materials related to flooded wells to homeowners.

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Controlling food and waterborne illness

The Bureau of Environmental Health works with the county health departments and the Bureau of Epidemiology team that includes a statewide coordinator, eight regional food and waterborne illness epidemiologists and a laboratorian. We are responsible for investigating illness outbreaks, intentional or otherwise, associated with food and water consumption and recreational water use. Symptoms of food or waterborne illnesses may vary from minor to severe.

As part of this function, food product recalls are issued when conditions are discovered that make food products potentially unsafe for eating. Local, state and federal agencies work collaboratively to protect Florida’s complex food industry comprised of a multitude of meat and dairy herds, manufacturers, processing plants and food distributors, retail stores, restaurants, schools and food facilities. As a collaborative team, the Florida agencies that regulate food, which includes Florida Departments of Health, Agriculture and Consumer Services and Business and Professional Regulation, along with the Division of Emergency Management, respond jointly with law enforcement to any intentional or accidental contamination of our food supply.

We also conduct assessments of emergency shelters.

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Controlling biomedical waste

The DOH County Health Departments (CHDs) have primary authority and responsibility for facilities that generate, transport, store, or treat biomedical waste through processes other than incineration. These facilities include hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, laboratories, funeral homes, dentists, veterinarians and physicians. When biomedical waste is improperly managed, it places health care workers, sanitation workers and the general public at risk for contracting dangerous diseases.

Complaints concerning biomedical waste are investigated by DOH CHDs. Additionally, small amounts of improperly disposed biomedical waste are cleaned up under DOH supervision. Emergency situations are referred to the State Watch Office. During emergencies, the Biomedical Waste Program Manager can provide technical information and advice on protecting health care workers, environmental-service staff, waste haulers and the general public from risks associated with potentially infectious biomedical waste.

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Preventing chemical exposure

Chemical exposures may occur by inhalation, absorption and consumption. We can provide technical assistance to partners as needed.

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