BUREAU OF ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH - COMMUNITY HYGIENE PROGRAM

The Community Hygiene Program is responsible for ensuring that residents live in an environment that is clean and free from disease. Our Program focuses on five main areas listed below, but may become involved in other environmental health issues not handled by the other Programs in the Bureau.

If you have concerns about air quality, open burning (burn permits), noise pollution, underground or above ground storage tanks, landfills, pet stores, or anything else related to the environment and your health you may contact us for more information.

Rabies Prevention

Rabies is a disease which is fatal if not prevented. The Community Hygiene Program is responsible for ensuring that people and pets that have been exposed to the rabies virus are treated immediately, and that further exposure does not occur. Please visit our Rabies Prevention Information page for more information

Complaint Investigation

Many times the only way we are aware of potential health risks is when a citizen contacts our Program to report a concern. When reports of unhealthy or unsafe conditions are received a sanitarian investigates to determine if further action should be taken.

The Health Department may require the owner or occupant of a property to take action if a nuisance condition exists. A nuisance is any condition that poses an actual or potential threat to health, or interferes with another’s proper use or enjoyment of their property. To find the law regarding nuisances in Howard County, please visit this website: Howard County Code, Title 12.110 Nuisances
If you would like to report a situation that you feel may be a nuisance condition, you may click here or you may also contact our office by phone at the number listed at the bottom of this page.

Other Resources

Mold
Centers for Disease Control – Mold
Environmental Protection Agency – Mold
“Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home”
Radon
Environmental Protection Agency – Radon
“A Citizen’s Guide to Radon”
Mercury
Howard County Mercury Program
Environmental Protection Agency – Mercury
Lead
Howard County Lead Program
Maryland Dept. of the Environment Lead Poisoning Prevention Program
Environmental Protection Agency – Lead

Healthy Swimming

Howard County has over 4000 public and private swimming pools. Pollution and disease can result from swimming pools that are not regularly maintained.Standing water can lead to increased mosquito populations, mold, various water-related diseases, and accidental drownings.

Our Program inspects over 200 public and semi-public pools and spas in Howard County to ensure they are well maintained. During routine inspections we work with private and commercial pool management companies to monitor the quality of the water, how the facility is being run, and general safety issues for swimmers.

On December 19, 2008, the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act went into effect. This law, first approved by Congress and signed by then President Bush in December 2007, provides new stricter guidelines for swimming pool and spa entrapment hazards and protective barriers. The law requires that all public pools and spas in operation as of the effective date be in compliance. Moving forward, any new construction will need to meet these requirements. Owners of residential pools are strongly encouraged to implement these changes as well. The Howard County Health Department, State of Maryland, along with pool contractors and professionals, are all working to address the design and technical challenges to achieve compliance and ensure that all licensed county pools remain as safe as possible moving forward. We encourage all concerned to become familiar with the new requirements and regulations. You may visit the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission website at www.cpsc.gov, or contact our office for further information.

A copy of the Act can be found here

A press release by the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals about the Act can be found here.

Pool Operators

In addition, we license all swimming pool operators in Howard County. If you intend to operate a public or semi-public swimming pool, you must have passed a recognized and approved pool operator course. In addition you must submit a Howard County Pool Operator Application. Complete instructions are included in the application.

Safe Drinking Water
Protecting the water you drink is a shared responsibility between you and all agencies that work with drinking water sources. The Federal, State, and Local government each have agencies that watch over your water by establishing water quality standards for contaminants that may harm you. Regular maintenance and testing of your water supply is up to you!

In Howard County, our Program is responsible for collecting samples from water wells to be tested for contaminants. All water samples collected by the Health Department are sent to a State lab in Baltimore City for analysis. While there is often a fee for the testing, we do not charge any fees for collecting the samples.

A special note about radium

In the summer of 2005, the Health Department identified certain areas of Howard County that may be at risk for radium contamination in their well water. A letter entitled “Radionuclides & Your Well Water: A Homeowner's Guide was sent to all residents who live within the suspected area. We are continuing to samples homes in this area free of charge.

If you would like to schedule an appointment to have your water tested, please contact us at the phone number or e-mail address listed at the bottom of this page

For concerns or questions about installing or repairing a drinking water well please visit the

Well and Septic Program website.

For more information, please call 410-313-1773
or toll free at
1-866-313-6300.

Or you may send an e-mail to
askhealth@howardcountymd.gov

For after hours emergencies you may call
Howard County Communications at 410-313-2929