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Environmental Health

Air quality, microbial control, legionella, swimming pools, skin penetration, hazardous materials

Public swimming pools, spas and splash parks

Public swimming pools, spa pools and splash parks need to be compliant with the Public Health Regulation 2012, Schedule 1, Requirements for Public Swimming Pools and Spa Pools.

This may involve checking pool disinfection systems, surrounds, toilets, change rooms and plant rooms as well as chemical and microbiological testing of pool or spa water. The team work with the Communicable Diseases team within the Public Health Unit to investigate cryptosporidiosis cases particularly if there is an outbreak associated with pool use. The team may initiate action to prevent further spread of diseases, such as closing public swimming pools, or requesting the owner/operators to take immediate disinfection measures.

Information on your requirements as an operator/owner is provided on the NSW Health website.

Tobacco and Smoke-Free environment

The Environmental Health team play an important role in regulating and enforcing legislation, according to Public Health (Tobacco) Regulation 2016 and Smoke Free Environment Act 2000 and Smoke-free Environment Regulation 2016.

Tobacco Products

The sale of single cigarettes, cigarettes in packets of less than 20,unpackaged tobacco, or tobacco products without appropriate health warnings is prohibited to any person regardless of the customer’s age. Retailers education programs are regularly provided to ensure retailers are aware of their responsibilities in regard to the sale of tobacco products.

Juvenile Smoking

A person who sells tobacco products to a person who is under the age of 18 years may be fined up to $55,000. It is also illegal to sell non tobacco smoking products including herbal cigarettes. All tobacco retailers have a duty of care to ensure that they only sell tobacco products to persons 18 years of age or older. Retail outlets are randomly surveyed and prosecutions have been made against those found to sell tobacco products to people under the age of 18. Retailers must ensure that the purchaser produces a proof of age document if necessary, and that their sales staff are appropriately trained regarding these obligations.

Tobacco Advertising

The display of tobacco products, non-tobacco smoking products and smoking accessories is being phased out in retail outlets including specialist tobacconists and tobacco vending machines. EHOs actively monitor retailers for breaches under the Public Health (Tobacco) Act 2008.

Smoke-free Environment Act 2000 and Regulations

The Smoke-Free Environment Act 2000 requires enclosed public places in NSW to be smoke-free. EHOs monitor and assess compliance, as required, to determine what is an 'enclosed public place', and when a covered outside area is considered to be substantially enclosed for the purposes of the Smoke-free Environment Act 2000.

Useful Links

Microbial control

The Environmental Health team work with local councils in monitoring and providing advice on the set-up, operation and maintenance of water-cooling systems to prevent the growth of micro-organisms (Legionella) that cause Legionnaires' disease.

Water-cooling systems such as cooling towers and warm water systems are regulated under the Public Health Act and Regulation to manage and control risk of Legionella to the public.

Guidelines for the safe and effective management of water-cooling systems, information on the legislation and other useful information can be found on the NSW Health website.

Funeral Industry

The handling of bodies by the funeral industry and by members of the public are regulated under the Public Health Act and Regulation. 

Key areas that the Environmental Health team are involved in:

Exhumations

An exhumation is the removal of human remains from a grave or crypt for the purpose of relocation to another burial site or for cremation of remains. This requires approval by delegation from the Director-General of Health. EHOs attend the exhumation to ensure that the correct remains are exhumed and other conditions are observed to protect the health of the public.

Transportation Overseas of Bodies of Deceased Persons

Funeral directors requesting that the remains of a deceased person be transported overseas requires a letter from EHOs that these bodies are free from diseases that may pose a risk to public health.

Mortuaries and Crematories

EHOs maintain a register of Mortuaries and Crematories and may inspect premises, registers or other records and take copies. EHOs monitor and provide advice to ensure that bodies of deceased persons are stored properly and under hygienic conditions. EHOs also ensure that details are recorded appropriately and that waste is handled and disposed of in a satisfactory manner.  A crematory can be closed where Public Health Regulations are not being met.

Information on funeral industry regulations and requirements are available on the NSW Health website.

Skin penetration industry

Skin penetration relates to specific practices carried out during electrolysis, waxing, tattooing, ear and body piercing, blood glucose and cholesterol testing, beauty therapy, colonic lavage and any beauty treatment which involves the deliberate piercing or removal of the skin.

The Public Health Act and Regulation legislation regulates these practices carried out by people who are not registered as health professionals. The regulation specifies procedures to prevent disease transmission, requires operators to be registered with the local council and authorises environmental health officers to carry out inspections.

The team may investigate complaints of inadequate infection control practice by a skin penetration operator, and work with local Council to ensure activities are performed according to best-practice guidelines.

More information on the requirements for these industries are available on the NSW Health website.

Public and private (commercial) water supplies

Drinking water quality in NSW is managed to protect public health. The Environmental Health team are involved in drinking water quality monitoring programs to ensure the availability and safe supply of water for drinking, food preparation and personal hygiene.

The Chief Health Officer may issue a boil water alert as a precaution in response to an event where the quality of drinking water is of concern.

More information of managing drinking water quality, the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines and requirements for private water supplies is available on the NSW Health website.

Waste Management

Water Recycling Schemes

NSW Health recommends the use of the Australian Guidelines for Water Recycling: Managing Health and Environmental Risk 2006 for the development of recycled water schemes. Environmental Health team can assist local Councils in assessing potential health risks from recycled water schemes and thus facilitate Councils' approval process for water recycling schemes under the Local Government Act (Approvals) Regulation.

Clinical and Related Waste Management for Health Services

EHOs provide advice and assist public healthcare facilities in the implementation of the Clinical and Related Waste Management for Health Services.

Other EHO activities

General Public Health Risks

The Environmental Health team investigate matters which constitute actual or potential health risks, which may or may not be successfully resolved by a local authority (e.g. local Council) or fall outside the ambit of other government departments (e.g. Department of Fair Trading, Work Cover Authority). These can vary from general hygiene risks to risks of exposure to specific hazardous chemicals or infectious disease.

If you would like to discuss a general public health risk, please contact the Environmental Health team on 9840 3603 or email WSLHD-CentreForPopulationHealth@health.nsw.gov.au.

Town Planning

The Environmental Health team review and comment on certain Environmental and Health Impact Assessments and Statements (EIAs, HIAs and EISs), Local Environmental Plans (LEPs), Development Control Plans (DCPs), and planning guidelines with respect to potential public health risks associated with the proposal and the principles of Ecological Sustainable Development (ESD). The National Framework for Environmental and Health Impact Assessment (NH&MRC, 1994) emphasises the importance of cross-sector collaboration in development and assessment of planning proposals. This is in recognition of the fact that environments have potential social, psychological, economic and ecological as well as physical impacts on human health. The health of the community is also seen as a basic requirement for ESD (NH&MRC 1994).

Brothels

EHOs may inspect brothels, usually on the basis of complaints from the public, to assess compliance with the NSW Health guideline "Health and Safety Guidelines for Brothels in NSW" (1997). This guideline was developed in response to changes that resulted from the introduction of the Disorderly Houses Amendment Act 1995.