Environmental Health is the prevention, management and control of the physical, chemical, biological and social factors in the environment that can affect a person's health and wellbeing.
The Environmental Health team, also called Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) work with health facilities, industry representatives, local councils and other state government agencies to ensure the environment we live in is good for public health. Examples of activities managed by the team include: managing risk of legionella, providing advice on managing chemical spills, managing water and air quality issues, regulation of tobacco laws and providing advice on waste management within hospital facilities.
Many of the roles performed by the team relate to enforcing laws that are in place to protect the health of the community. These include:
- Public Health Act 2010 and Public Health Regulations 2012
- Public Health (Tobacco) Act 2009
- Smoke Free Environment Act 2000.
Managing public swimming pools and splash parks
The Environmental Health team work with local councils and pool operators to ensure public swimming and spa pools are safe and operate according to certain requirements under the law. 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 public pools. Public pools and spas may be closed if reasonable grounds exist to suspect a risk to public health.
You can get more information about healthy swimming pools on the NSW Health website.
2. Tobacco and Smoke-Free environment
The Environmental Health team play an important role in minimising the community’s exposure to tobacco/smoking in areas where we live, work and play. The team provide information and assistance to tobacco retailers and other relevant industries so they comply with the legal requirements under Tobacco and smoke free laws. The team also investigate complaints received about smoking in enclosed public places and certain outdoor public areas where smoking is banned. Information about making a report or complaints is available here.
3. Legionella control and prevention
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.
4. Other activities to manage public health risks
- 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
Managing risk from skin penetration practices
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 team may investigate complaints of inadequate infection control practice by a skin penetration operator, and work with local Council to educate all staff who work in this field to ensure activities are performed according to best-practice guidelines.
Public & Private (Commercial) Water Supplies
Drinking water supplies in NSW are managed to ensure the community has access to safe and clean water for drinking, food preparation and personal hygiene. Information on maintaining safe water supplies is available on the NSW Health website
The handling of bodies by the funeral industry is regulated under the Public Health Act 2010 and Public Health Regulation 2012.
- 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 a Development Application proposal.
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).
General information and resources on Environmental Health is available on the NSW Health website
Factsheets for community members and professionals is available on the NSW Health website