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EH Preparedness

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To maximize our success, we leverage our resources through proactive planning and strategic collaboration with a variety of local, state and federal partners. We also evaluate potential health risks from chemical, biological, radiological and physical agents in the environment. During an emergency, our professionals can provide technical advice to Incident Command. Working in partnership with federal and state agencies we assess and prevent possible human health risks from accidental spills, waste disposal, radiation threats and agricultural and industrial activities.

Protecting drinking water supplies 

County health departments (CHDs) conduct investigations of complaints related to public water systems.

In the event of an emergency threat to public health caused by contamination of a public water system, the CHDs assist the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) by notifying potentially affected Floridians. If it receives information that a contaminant is in, or is likely to enter drinking water supplies, DEP, in coordination with the Florida Department of Health, takes actions necessary to protect the public health. The Surgeon General is responsible for declaring public health emergencies and issuing public health advisories.

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 is necessary to accurately estimate the potential impact to public health and the environment during a disaster.  This inventory also assists with allocating resources efficiently.

Controlling food and waterborne illness 

Together, with the Bureau of Epidemiology team of nine regional food and waterborne illness epidemiologists and CHDs, we are responsible for investigating illness outbreaks, intentional or otherwise, associated with food and water consumption and recreational water use. In healthy adults, the effects of food and waterborne illnesses typically last only a few days and are self treated with nonprescription medications. However, disease organisms and toxins that may contaminate food and water can cause severe symptoms in vulnerable groups such as young children, seniors and those who are immune-compromised. 

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, institutions and food facilities. As a collaborative team, the state Departments of Health, Agriculture and Consumer Services, Business and Professional Regulation and the Division of Emergency Management (DEM) would respond jointly with law enforcement to any intentional or accidental contamination of our food supply.

For More Information 

Obtain more information on FloridaHealth's Environmental Health preparedness webpage.