The Environmental Health Division is committed to protecting the health of the public by evaluating, correcting and preventing many risk factors in the environment which can adversely affect the health of our community. Responsibilities of this division include regulatory evaluation and enforcement of food establishments, temporary food establishments, tourist establishments, dairy facilities, marinas and swimming pools; investigation of foodborne illness complaints and outbreaks; food safety education and promotion; environmental complaints and investigations for rodent and pest infestation; mosquito surveillance concerning Zika Virus ; and working with Richmond Animal Care and Control to administer the Rabies Program. We consistently interact with many state and local agencies in order to better serve our community. For more information, please call (804) 205-3912.
A major part of the division’s work is permitting and regulating food establishments. There are over 1,100 food establishments in the City of Richmond. These establishments include restaurants, mobile food units, school cafeterias, day care centers, adult homes, hospital kitchens and coffee shops. They are regularly inspected as determined by the uniform statewide risk categorization system. Click here for more information on Food Safety.
The Richmond City Health District permits and inspects approximately 50 hotels, motels, Inns and Bed & Breakfast facilities in the City of Richmond. Tourist establishment regulations are enforced to ensure the quality of overall sanitation.
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. For bed bug concerns in a private residence, please see our LEAD SAFE AND HEALTHY HOMES webpage.
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
Swimming pools are inspected and the water is tested to ensure a safe swimming environment for bathers. All public swimming pools are inspected throughout the summer and all tourist establishment swimming pools are inspected annually. Germs in the places we swim can cause a variety of illnesses, including gastrointestinal, skin, ear, respiratory, eye, neurologic, and wound infections. Germs can get into the water in different ways: when they wash off of swimmers’ bodies, when swimmers have diarrheal incidents in the water, and even when rainwater runs off near local beaches and swim areas. Three of the most common germs that cause waterborne illnesses in Virginia are Cryptosporidium, Giardia, and Vibrio.
Regulations regarding swimming pools:
Six Steps to Protect Yourself & Others:Don’t swim when you have diarrhea. Just one diarrheal incident can release enough germs into the water that swallowing a mouthful can cause diarrhea lasting 2-3 weeks.
- Don’t swallow pool water, and don’t drink water directly from streams, lakes, or other bodies of water.
- Practice good hygiene. Shower with soap before swimming and wash your hands with soap after using the toilet or changing diapers. Germs on your body end up in the water.
- Avoid exposing open wounds or cuts to salt or brackish water. If exposed, wash the affected area right away with soap and clean water.
- If you become ill, visit your primary healthcare provider.
Prevent drowning and swimming-related injuries by following these simple steps:
- Learn to swim. Learn life-saving skills, including swimming basics and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
- Be prepared. Have rescue equipment by the pool, post 9-1-1 emergency information, and think through an emergency action plan.
- Supervise when in or near the water. Never leave a child unsupervised near a pool/spa, standing body of water, pond, bathtub, toilet, or water-filled bucket. Look in pools first if a child is missing.
- Clear the pool and deck of toys. Remove toys from the pool and surrounding area immediately after use so children aren’t tempted to enter the pool area unsupervised.
- Use the buddy system when swimming or boating.
- Communicate pool safety tips with the babysitter and ensure they are trained in CPR.
- Use Coast Guard approved life jackets. Never rely only on flotation devices (water wings, noodles) or swimming lessons to protect a child.
- Install four-sided fencing. An unclimbable, five foot fence should separate the pool/spa from residences. Fence openings should be no more than four inches wide so children cannot squeeze through spaces. Fence gates should be self closing and self latching. Areas beside the outside of the fence should be free of objects that can help children climb the fence, such as tables, chairs, or tree branches.
- Don’t swim in the dark.
- Avoid alcohol before and during swimming.
What is Zika? Zika is an infection caused by the Zika virus that spreads to people primarily through bites of infected mosquitoes. Most adults with Zika have no symptoms or only mild symptoms. The biggest concern about this infection is that it can pass from a mother to her baby during pregnancy and have serious results, including fetal loss and birth defects. Click here for detailed information about Zika.
Click here for more information on Vectorborne diseases including West Nile Virus, Malaria, Insect repellent and what you can do to help stop the spread.
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, standing water, in addition to complaints related to the facilities which are permitted by our department. To make an environmental complaint please call 804-205-3912.
Code Enforcement with the City of Richmond also serves as a partner to address citizen complaints for trash, tall grass, property maintenance, abandon vehicles, private property issues etc. The Code Enforcement office can be reached 804-646-6398 or click here to contact them online.
Insect and Rodent Borne Disease Prevention
“Vectorborne disease” is the term commonly used to describe an illness caused by an infectious microbe that is transmitted to people by blood-sucking arthropods. The arthropods (insects or arachnids) that most commonly serve as vectors include: 1.) blood sucking insects such as mosquitoes, fleas, lice, biting flies and bugs, and 2.) blood sucking arachnids such as mites and ticks. The term “vector” refers to any arthropod that transmits a disease through feeding activity. Click here for more information on Vectorborne diseases.
You may have rats on your property if you recognize droppings, runways, burrows, and live or dead rats. Contact a licensed pest control company to handle rodents on private property. Methods of controlling rats are rat killing, rat proofing, and good sustained sanitation. Baiting is also effective after the food source is removed from the property. Follow manufacturer instructions.
- 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 can prevent rodent entry.
- 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.
Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system. It kills almost any mammal or human that gets sick from it. The rabies virus is mainly in the saliva and brain of rabid animals. It can be transmitted through a bite or by getting saliva or brain tissue in a wound or in the eye or mouth. Rabies cannot be transmitted by blood, feces, urine or by patting an animal. Only mammals such as dogs, cats, ferrets, raccoons, bats etc. get rabies; birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians do not get rabies.
If bitten contact the following resources: Richmond City Health District, Environmental Health Division: (804) 205-3912.Richmond Animal Care & Control: (804) 646-5573. For more information, please visit: http://www.richmondgov.com/AnimalControl/Dogs.aspx
If You Are Bitten:
Don’t panic…but don’t ignore the bite, either. Wash the wound thoroughly with soap and lots of water. Washing thoroughly will greatly lessen the chance of infection. Give first aid as you would for any wound. If possible, capture the animal under a large box or can, or at least identify it before it runs away. Don’t try to pick the animal up. Call an animal control or law enforcement officer to come get it. It’s critically important that you notify your family doctor immediately and explain how you got the bite. Your doctor will want to know if the animal has been captured. If necessary, your doctor will give the anti-rabies treatment recommended by the United States Public Health Service. Your doctor will also treat you for other possible infections that could be caused from the bite. Report the bite to the local health department.
If Your Pet Bites Someone:
- Report the bite to the local health department and the Richmond Animal Care and Control. 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 your 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.
- After the recommended observation period, have your pet vaccinated for rabies if it does not have a current rabies vaccination.
What Can You Do to Help Control Rabies
- Have your veterinarian vaccinate your dogs, cats, ferrets, and selected livestock. Keep the vaccinations up-to-date.
- If your pet is attacked or bitten by a wild animal, report it to the local health or animal control authorities. Be sure your vaccinated dog, cat, or ferret receives a booster vaccination.
- Limit the possibility of exposure by keeping your animals on your property. Don’t let pets roam free.
- Do not leave garbage or pet food outside. It may attract wild or stray animals.
- Do not keep wild animals as pets. Enjoy all wild animals from a distance, even if they seem friendly. A rabid animal sometimes acts tame. If you see an animal acting strangely, report it to your local animal control department and do not go near it yourself.
For more information on Rabies Control, please visit:
The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) oversees dairy producers and milk plants to ensure a safe, nutritious product is distributed to the people of the Commonwealth. Virginia dairy farmers produce approximately 240 million gallons of milk each year from over 700 dairy farms. This milk in its raw form has the potential to include dangerous germs, pathogens, bacteria or contaminates that could harm a consumer. Once milk is processed (pasteurized) and quality checked for safety, it travels to your cup. The Richmond City Health District oversees and regulates the activities of a local dairy and creamery under the Virginia Grade A Milk Regulations which are based on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Pasteurized Milk Ordinance.
The Environmental Health Division monitors activities of two (2) marinas in the City to ensure compliance with the Marina Regulations.
The Environmental Health Division conducts surveillance of the summer food service program for children at over 100 sites throughout the City. Click here for more information on the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) .