Environmental Health Division

Food Service Establishment RegulationHotels & MotelsBedbug ControlMilk/DairyMarinasSummer Lunch ProgramsSwimming PoolsHealthy SwimmingRabies Control & Animal BitesInsect and Rodent Borne Disease PreventionRat ControlRat ProofingSafe Clean Up Environmental Complaint Investigation

Our professional inspectors regulate and inspect all city food establishments and vendors to ensure quality service and sanitation. Complaints and cases of food or waterborne illnesses are investigated to determine and eliminate causes. The Environmental Health staff provides training and certification for food handlers and establishments, issue temporary health permits, and inspects street vendors.

The Division is responsible for inspecting and regulating restaurants, hotels and motels, milk and dairy processing, swimming pools and marinas. Complaints such as rodent infestation, rabies, and toxic substances affecting the environment are also handled by the Environmental Health Division. For more information, please call (804) 205-3912.


Food Service Establishment Regulation
Regulation of over 1,000 food establishments in the City of Richmond, including restaurants, mobile food units, school cafeterias, day care centers, adult homes, hospital kitchens are performed. Establishments are regularly inspected to ensure quality of service and a high standard of sanitation. Complete plan reviews are conducted on all new and extensively remodeled establishments. Epidemiological investigations of reported food or waterborne illnesses are conducted to determine and eliminate causes.

  • New business owners can receive assistance regarding license and permit processing. (Opening Inspection, Food Safety Guidelines and Application for a Food Establishment Permit)
  • Individual establishments may request food sanitation classes for food handlers. Call 804-205-3912 for scheduling information.
  • Qualified vendors who participate in the many special events and celebrations are issued temporary health permits. (Application for a Temporary Health Permit & Coordinator’s Application for a Temporary Food Permit)
  • Investigations of all complaints received from citizens concerning food establishments are made and appropriate actions are taken.  If you would like to file a complaint please call 804-205-3912.

Hotels & Motels
Tourist establishment regulations are enforced by this Division to ensure the quality of over 43 hotels and motels within the city. The health department conducts routine inspections and responds to related complaints from citizens.

Bedbug Control
Bedbugs are a biting, nuisance pest that are easily spread by human activities and can ruin the reputation of a hotel or motel. In spite of numerous studies, bedbugs have never been associated with the transmission of a disease. However, bedbug bites can cause itchy welts that may become infected sores when scratched by the victim.
Prior to the arrival of a pest control professional, all bedclothes, cushions, and cloth items should be removed.  If bedbugs are noticed in the following places, they should be treated with residual insecticide by a pest control professional:

  • Bed frames and cracks or voids in bed frames
  • Cracks, voids, and drawers in bedside tables
  • Cracks behind or under baseboards
  • Cracks in wooden flooring
  • Under area rugs and along the edges of wall to wall carpeting
  • Cracks around window frames and door frames
  • Crevices around curtain rods and fixtures
  • The voids containing electrical, telephone, or cable outlets
  • Crevices or voids in bedside lamps, phones, and clocks
  • Under picture frames
  • Under loose wallpaper

Milk/Dairy
The Environmental Health Division regulates activities of a local dairy through product testing and periodic inspections of pasteurization equipment.

Marinas
The Environmental Health Division monitors activities of two (2) marinas in the City to ensure compliance with related State regulations.

Summer Lunch Programs
The Environmental Health Division conducts surveillance of the summer lunch program for children at over 100 sites throughout the City.

Swimming Pools
Pools are inspected and the water is tested periodically for quality, P.H. and chlorine content. Proper actions are taken to correct related problems when they occur.

Healthy Swimming
Recreational Water Illnesses (RWIs) are various illnesses caused by germs that can contaminate water in pools, lakes, and the ocean. The most common RWI is diarrheal illness caused by germs like “Crypto” and E. Coli 0157:H7. Although germs are killed by chlorine, it doesn’t work right away and some germs can live in pools for days.

Six Steps to Protect Yourself & Others:

  • Don’t swim when you have diarrhea. You can spread germs in the water and make other people sick.
  • Don’t swallow pool water. Avoid getting water in your mouth.
  • Practice good hygiene. Shower with soap before swimming and wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers. Germs on your body end up in the water.
  • Take your kids on bathroom breaks or check diapers often. Waiting to hear “I have to go” may mean that it’s too late.
  • Change diapers in a bathroom or a diaper changing area and not at poolside. Germs can be spread in and around the pool.
  • Wash your children thoroughly (especially the rear end) with soap and water before they go swimming. Invisible amounts of fecal matter can end up in the pool.

Three Steps for Water Safety

  • Keep an eye on your child at all times. Remember, kids can drown in seconds and in silence.
  • Use appropriately fitted life jackets instead if air-filled or foam toys. These toys are not designed to keep children safe.
  • Use sunscreen with at least SPF 15 and both UVA and UVB protection, and be sure to reapply it after swimming. Just a few serious sunburns can increase the risk of getting skin cancer.

Information taken from the Department of Health &Human Services USA and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Rabies Control & Animal Bites
Rabies is a deadly disease found in the salvia and brain of rabid animals that is caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system. This virus can be transmitted through a bite or by getting saliva or brain tissue in the eyes, nose, mouth or an open wound. Rabies cannot be transmitted by blood, feces, urine or by patting an animal.  Only mammals get rabies; birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians do not.
Investigations conducted include over 500 incidents involving humans being bitten by animals. Appropriate actions are taken to prevent spread of rabies. If bitten contact the following resources:

  • Richmond City Health District, Environmental Health Division at           (804) 205-3912.
  • Richmond Animal Control at (804) 646-5573.

If You Are Bitten:
Don’t panic, but don’t ignore. Wash the wound thoroughly with soap and lots of water to help prevent infection. If it can be done safely, capture or confine the animal. Do not try to pick the animal up and do not damage the head of the animal. Regardless, identify the animal before it runs away.
If the animal is owned, get the name and contact information of the owner and call animal control or a law enforcement officer.  Notify the doctor immediately, explain how you were bitten, and tell the doctor if the bite has been reported. The doctor may want to talk with the health department to determine if rabies treatment should be started.

If Your Pet Bites Someone:

  • Report the bite to the local health department and the animal control office. If your pet is a cat, dog, or ferret, you will probably be asked to confine the animal and watch it closely for 10 days.
  • Tell the person bitten to see a doctor immediately.
  • Check with you veterinarian to determine if your pet’s vaccinations are up to date.
  • Don’t let your pet roam off of your property and don’t give the animal away. It must be available for observation by public health authorities.
  • Don’t kill your pet or allow it to be killed unless you have been instructed to do so by the public health authorities.
  • After the recommended observation period, have your pet vaccinated for rabies if it does not have a current rabies vaccination.

What You Can Do?

  • Vaccinate your dogs, cats, ferrets, and selected livestock for rabies. Keep the vaccinations up to date.
  • Report to the local health department and animal control authorities if your pet is attacked or bitten by a wild animal.
  • Restrict your animals on your property. Don’t let pets roam free. Also, do not leave garbage or pet food outside because it may attract wild animals.
  • Never keep wild animals as pets, and don’t approach domestic or wild animals.

Insect and Rodent Borne Disease Prevention
West Nile Virus is a mosquito-borne disease, while Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever are tick-borne diseases. Lyme disease is caused by Borrelia burgdorferi and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is caused by Rickettsia ricketsii.
Rats carry several different diseases and property should be self inspected to ensure they are not present.

West Nile Virus Prevention

  • Wear insect repellent according to manufacturer’s instruction. Only adults should apply repellent to children.
  • Wear light colored long pants and long sleeved shirts to cover exposed skin.
  • Repair holes in windows and screens.
  • Get rid of old tires, buckets, drums, bottles, and any other water-holding containers from the yard.
  • Fill in or drain low places in the yard that hold water for more than a week.
  • Cover trashcans to keep out rainwater.
  • For places like small stagnant ponds, rain barrels and low lying wet areas, use environmentally friendly larvicides, which kill mosquito larvae without danger to people, pets or wildlife; follow all label directions.

Lyme Disease Prevention – Ticks do not jump or fly onto people or animals. They wait on low vegetation, attach to hosts as they pass by, and crawl upward.

  • Avoid tick infested areas such as tall grass and dense vegetation.
  • Keep grass cut and underbrush thinned in yards. Follow directions carefully for tick control products.
  • Eliminate the small places of small rodents.
  • Wear light colored clothing so that ticks are easier to see and remove.
  • Conduct tick checks on yourself, your children, and your pets.
  • Tuck pant legs into socks and boots. Wear long sleeved shirts buttoned at the wrist.
  • Apply tick repellent to areas of the body and clothing that may come in contact with grass and brush. Repellents include those containing up to 50% DEET for adults or less than 30% for children. A repellent/pesticide containing 0.5 percent permethrin may be applied to clothing, but should not be used on skin. Follow directions carefully and do no overuse. Some tick repellents can cause toxic or allergic reactions.
  • Ask for veterinarian to recommend tick control methods for your pets. Animals can get Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and ehrlichiosis, but they do not transmit these diseases to humans.

Rat Control

  • You may have a rat on your property if you recognize droppings, runaways, burrows, and live or dead rats.
  • The three main methods of controlling rats are rat killing, rat proofing, and good sustained sanitation, which is the most important method.  Baiting can also be done after the food source is removed from the property.  Follow manufacturer directions closely.

Rat Proofing

  • Wooden door jams can be flashed with sheet metal to protect them from rat gnawing. Open doors provide easy entry for rodents; both the screen doors and wooden doors to establishments should be equipped with reliable self-closing devices.
  • Vents and windows can be made secure against rat entry by screening them with heavy wire mesh, preferably in a sheet metal frame. If desired, insect screening can also be incorporated into the frame. Wood surfaces exposed to gnawing must be covered by the frame.
  • Metal guards of suitable construction should be placed around or over wires and pipes to prevent rats from using them to gain entrance into a building.
  • Openings around pipes or conduits should either be covered with sheet metal patches or filled with concrete or brick and mortar.
  • The use of concrete for basement floors and for foundations not only prevents rat entry, but increases the value of your property.
  • Floor drains, transoms, mail drops, and fan openings should be covered or screened.

Safe Clean Up
Urine and droppings left by rats could be contaminated with disease. Sprinkle droppings with a bleach/water solution and always wear gloves when cleaning up contaminated areas or handling dead rodents.

Environmental Complaint Investigation
The Environmental Health Division investigates approximately 500 complaints from citizens each year regarding various environmental concerns such as rodent, insects, nuisance birds, obnoxious odors, no water, standing water, in addition to complaints related to the previously mentioned programs. Related State and City Codes are enforced.
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