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Environmental Health

The Schenectady County Environmental Health Unit is responsible for inspections of schools, indoor air quality, realty subdivisions, housing, hygiene, tattoo and body piercing establishments, enforcement of the Adolescent Tobacco Use Prevention Act and emergency sanitation.

Adolescent Tobacco Use Prevention

The Adolescent Tobacco Use Prevention Act (ATUPA) was passed to stop sales of tobacco products to individuals under age 21.

ATUPA is governed by NYS Public Health Law, Section 1399-cc: The sale of cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, powdered tobacco, shisha, or other tobacco products, herbal cigarettes, liquid nicotine, electronic cigarettes, rolling papers or smoking paraphernalia to persons under 21 years of age is prohibited by law.

In Schenectady County, ATUPA is enforced by Schenectady County Public Health Services Environmental Unit.

Children's Camp Inspection Program

The health and safety of children attending summer day and overnight children's camps are enhanced by department inspections to keep them in compliance with the State Sanitary Code. Camp programs are evaluated to insure proper supervision, general program safety, fire safety, aquatics safety and supervision, medical qualifications and adequate sanitary facilities. Camps receive a minimum of two inspections per year, one in the pre-season and one during the camping season.

Food Worker's Certification Program

The food service industry is the fourth largest in the United States, comprising more than a half million establishments and employing some eight million people. This industry and many regulatory agencies have intensified efforts in recent years to improve food protection through educational programs designed for the food worker. Despite considerable progress in training, food-borne illness continues to be a major public health problem.

The Environmental Health Unit of Schenectady County Public Health Services is offering a ten hour Food Worker's Certification Course. The course is given in four classroom sessions.
Course Objectives:

Food Industry as a business. Personal Hygiene: hand-washing, proper dress, sanitary habits, exclusion when ill. Food Handling Practices: minimizing contact with ready-to-eat foods, use of utensils.

 

EXAMINATION:

Certificates:
Wall size certificates will be awarded to those who successfully complete the course and pass the examination.

Tuition: The $75.00 fee helps to sustain the course.

Course Times and Registration:
The course will be held at Schenectady County Community College in Room S101 of the Stockade Building. Call 386-2818 to register. Seating is limited.

RULES and REGULATIONS:

Part 14 Sanitary Code: code interpretations, updates. Inspections.

FACILITIES:

Equipment and Sanitation: sanitizing procedures, dish-washing, preventing cross contamination.

FOOD:

Food-borne Disease: causes, prevention, communicable diseases. Food Protection: source, storage, preparation, temperature control, proper cooling and reheating, HACCP, service, transportation.
Public Water Safety Program

Assuring the distribution of safe, potable drinking water to all residents of the County of Schenectady is the main objective of the Schenectady County Environmental Health Units' Public Water Supply Program. The Environmental Health Unit oversees forty-nine (39) community and non-community water supplies. An example of a community water supply would be the City of Schenectady and non-community water supply would be a school or restaurant. All water supplies are required to submit water samples for analysis to the Environmental Health Unit for review. Community water supplies are routinely sampled for bacteriological contaminants, radiological, lead and copper levels, synthetic, volatile organic and inorganic compounds, as well as a variety other compounds. Annual inspections and numerous field visits are conducted by this office to assure compliance with the State Sanitary Code by local municipalities. All municipal water supplies are required to create and dispense an Annual Water Quality Report to all people to whom they supply water. These reports are available to city and town residents at your local municipal office.

Rabies Information

Rabies is a serious illness, which can result in human death. The Schenectady County Environmental Health Unit investigates 350 to 400 rabies exposures annually, both from domestic and wild animals, to protect County residents from rabies.

Bat rabies accounts for almost all cases of human rabies in this country. Although only 1% of the bats submitted for rabies testing are positive, any exposure to bats should be reported to the Schenectady County Environmental Health Unit. The bat should be saved for testing. Additionally, exposures from any wild animal, bites or scratches, should be reported to the Schenectady County Environmental Health Unit at (518) 386-2818 and the animal saved for testing as well.

Periodic rabies vaccination clinics for domestic animals are held in the County. Dates, times and locations for these clinics can be obtained by calling (518) 386-2818. You can also stop back here at the Schenectady County website to check for scheduled vaccination clinics.

Rabies vaccinations are available for cats, dogs and ferrets BY APPOINTMENT ONLY at the drive-thru clinic.

Registrants must wear a face mask in their car while at the clinic. Dogs must be leashed, cats and ferrets must be in a carrier.

Register at: https://apps.health.ny.gov/doh2/applinks/cdmspr/counties

Swimming Pools & Beach Inspections

Clean and pollution-free waters represent important objectives of the Schenectady County Environmental Health Unit surveillance of water recreation facilities. There are 37 pools and 2 beaches within Schenectady County. Approximately 2 to 3 inspections are done annually to insure that water quality, supervision and life saving apparatus is adequate. Water recreation facilities are required to submit monthly operation reports, safety plans, emergency plans and lifeguard certification information, all of which are reviewed by the Environmental Health Unit for compliance with the New York State Sanitary Code.

Temporary Food Services Safety Checklist

If you're a food vendor in Schenectady County, make sure that food safety is part of your menu. Follow this checklist to insure a safe, smooth temporary food event.

You must apply and secure a temporary food service permit from the Schenectady County Environmental Health Department before vending any food items within Schenectady County. A temporary food permit is valid for one event lasting 14 days or less and requires a $90.00 fee. Only those foods that require limited preparation, such as quick cook and serve items, are allowed to be served at a temporary food event. (eg. sausage, hot dogs, hamburgers, etc.) Proper temperature control is mandatory. All potentially hazardous foods (*see definition below) must be prepared, stored, transported and served at temperatures of 45 ° F or below for cold foods and 140 ° F or above for hot foods.

 

A temporary summer festival or carnival can be safe and filled with fun and following the preceding rules is essential in making that happen.

* Note: “potentially hazardous food” means any food that consists in whole or in part of milk, eggs, meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, cooked potato and rice or foods that support the rapid growth of bacteria

  • A metal stemmed, numerically scaled thermometer or thermocouple is required to check applicable food temperatures.
  • Foods must be protected from contamination at all times including preparation, storage and display to patrons. Set up your food booth to minimize patron contamination; prepare and cook towards the back of the booth and serve patrons from the front of the booth.
  • All ready to eat foods which will not be reheated must be prepared and served without bare hands contact. Suitable utensils and/or sanitary disposable gloves must be used for all ready to eat foods.
  • Ice must be from approved sources and made from potable water. Ice is to be properly bagged in single use wet strength plastic bags until the time of use. Foods may not be stored in undrained ice.
  • Single-service articles are to be furnished to patrons at all times during the temporary food event.
  • All food items, utensils, food equipment and single-service items must be stored at least six inches above ground level within your food booth.
  • If food operations are conducted at night, artificial light of at least 20 foot candles must be supplied.
  • All temporary food establishments must be equipped with hand washing facilities supplied with soap, potable water and disposable paper towels.
  • All sewage waste, including liquid waste, must be disposed of in a sanitary sewer, approved septic system or holding tank.
  • Adequate garbage containers with plastic liners must be supplied to all temporary food booths.
  • Floor surfaces in temporary food booths must be constructed of concrete, asphalt or other easily cleanable material. Dirt areas should be covered with cleanable wood platforms or duckboards.
  • Adequate ceilings of wood or canvas must be used to protect the food booth from the weather.
  • Foods must be protected from contamination, including maintenance of hot or cold temperatures at all times during transportation to the temporary event site.
Temporary Residences

Temporary residences (hotels, motels, trailer parks and campgrounds) are routinely inspected to insure adequate sanitation facilities, fire safety, safe drinking water, satisfactory food service and aquatic facilities and the control of solid waste, insect and rodents. Additionally, the department inspects all mass gatherings within Schenectady County (public gatherings for more than 24 hours and 5,000 people).

West Nile Virus

West Nile Virus is a mosquito-borne virus that can cause encephalitis or meningitis. The West Nile Virus is generally mild with symptoms such as fever, headache and body aches. The West Nile Virus is spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. You cannot get the illness from another person with the illness or from dead or ill birds infected with the illness. What can you do to reduce your risk of getting West Nile? Reduce standing water breeding sites around your property, avoid mosquito habitats if possible, especially around dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active. Use DEET insect repellents if you must be in those areas. Reducing Mosquitoes Around Your Home and Community Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. Weeds, tall grass, and bushes provide an outdoor home for the adult Culex pipiens mosquito (the common house mosquito) which is most commonly associated with West Nile virus. Mosquitoes can enter homes through unscreened windows or doors, or broken screens.

Make sure that doors and windows have tight-fitting screens. Repair or replace all screens in your home that have tears or holes. Remove all discarded tires from your property. Dispose of tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots, or similar water-holding containers.

 

Note that Vitamin B, ultrasonic devices, incense and bug zappers have not been shown to be effective in preventing mosquito bites. Schenectady County West Nile Virus Response Plan Schenectady County Public Health Services (SCPHS) recommends that people limit their time outdoors when mosquitoes are the most active and likely to bite – at dawn and dusk. The use of insect repellents will help reduce the chance of mosquitoes biting and transmitting WNV. SCPHS will not be collecting birds for WNV testing. There is no evidence that birds can transmit WNV to people. Therefore, not all dead birds need to be tested. For more information about West Nile virus, call the Schenectady County Health Department at (518) 386-2818.

Please Note: Some local hardware stores may carry a product called Mosquito Dunk that contains a larvicide – Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (BTI) - for use in areas of standing water around the home. The County Department of Health recommends eliminating standing water around the home to reduce breeding sites for mosquitoes and warns that direct handling of larvicides may cause skin and eye irritation. If these products are purchased for home use, we recommend careful reading of the hazards label, directions, and details regarding storage and handling. Q: If my neighbors don't take care of the standing water in their yards, should I report them to the Health Department? A: We are asking County residents and business owners to take primary responsibility for eliminating standing water on their property. However, the Department of Health will take reports to track significant problem areas. Reports can be made to the Schenectady County Health Department to investigate stagnant water areas. Q: What can I do to reduce my risk of becoming infected with West Nile virus? A: Between April and October, when mosquitoes are active, take the following precautions: If outside during evening, nighttime and dawn hours when mosquitoes are most active and likely to bite, children and adults should wear protective clothing such as long pants, long sleeved-shirts, and socks. If outside during evening, nighttime and dawn hours, consider the use of an insect repellent containing 10% or less DEET (N, N-diethyl-methyl-meta-toluamide) for children and no more than 30% DEET for adults. Additionally, to reduce the risk of being bitten by mosquitoes: Wear shoes, socks, long pants and long sleeved shirts when outside for long periods of time or when mosquitoes are most active (dawn and dusk). Consider the use of mosquito repellent - one that contains DEET. USE DEET ACCORDING TO MANUFACTURER'S DIRECTIONS:

Do not use DEET on infants or pregnant women. Do not allow young children to apply DEET themselves. Do not apply DEET directly to children. Apply to your own hands and then put it on the child. DEET is effective for approximately four hours. Avoid prolonged or excessive use of DEET. Use sparingly to cover exposed skin and clothing. Wash all treated skin and clothing after returning indoors. Store DEET out of reach of children.
  • Make sure roof gutters drain properly. Clean clogged gutters in the spring and fall.
  • Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs. If not in use, keep empty and covered.
  • Drain water from pool covers.
  • Change the water in bird baths at least once a week.
  • Turn over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use.
  • Eliminate any standing water that collects on your property.
  • Remind or help neighbors to eliminate breeding sites on their properties.