Health Hazards in the Environment

Environmental hazards

Environmental hazards are hazards from the built and natural environment that can affect human health.  This can include air pollution, chemicals, contaminated sites, noise, radiation, lead or asbestos. Regulation of these issues is shared between state and local government agencies. Environmental health officers can provide advice to agencies and the public regarding health risks. For more information, please see NSW Health Environmental Health Branch.

Health risk assessment

Environmental health officers can review and provide comment on environmental and health impact assessments and statements, local environmental plans, development control plans and planning guidelines with respect to potential public health risks associated with a proposal.

Arbovirus surveillance and monitoring program

The NSW Health Arbovirus Surveillance and Monitoring Program aims to provide an early recognition of disease risk for the community. The Program monitors mosquito numbers through trapping, determines predominant mosquito species, and tests the mosquitoes to see if they are carrying viruses.

Within South Eastern Sydney Local Health District there have been scattered cases and outbreaks of infection due to the arboviruses Ross River virus and Barmah Forest virus. In these cases, it is believed that infection results from the bites of the saltmarsh mosquito (Aedes vigilax) carrying the virus. It is suspected that mosquitoes pick up the virus from marsupial hosts, especially wallabies and kangaroos. Reports on arbovirus infections in residents and mosquito trapping in the Health District are found here.

There are two trapping sites within the South Eastern Sydney Local Health District along Georges River at Alfords Point and Illawong.  During the mosquito season, generally November to April, environmental health officers from the Public Health Unit set and collect traps each week, and deliver mosquito collections to the Department of Medical Entomology, Institute for Clinical Pathology and Medical Research (ICPMR), at Westmead Hospital for analysis.  For more information, please see NSW Health Vector Borne Surveillance and The NSW Arbovirus Surveillance & Vector Monitoring Program