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The Environmental Health Office provides a wide range of services to residents of Boston to protect people from hazardous exposures in homes, workplaces, and public spaces.  These include:

  • Response to complaints from the public regarding potential environmental health hazards and emergencies such as asbestos, indoor and outdoor air pollution, chemical spills, and hazardous waste dumping.  Hazards health inspectors investigate complaints/concerns and, if a public health hazard is found, take enforcement action to have the responsible party eliminate the hazard.
  • Regulation and permitting of a number of business types from asbestos removal to nail salons
  • Provision of technical assistance and resources to small businesses to reduce pollution and chemical exposure by workers and clients
  • Investigation, case management, enforcement, and training to address and reduce childhood lead poisoning
  • Playing an active role in city efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change impacts

Inspections and Complaint Investigations
The Environmental Health Office responds to requests from the public for inspections related to a broad range of potential environmental health hazards.   The office addressees hazards in private residences, public buildings, workplaces, and outdoor spaces.  Inspections may include a visual assessment (with photos taken to document conditions) and environmental monitoring using field sampling and analyses instruments.  If violations of laws or health hazards are found, the responsible parties are required to take corrective action.  Examples of the types of hazards the office inspects include, but are not limited to, asbestos, indoor and outdoor air pollution, chemical spills/exposures, and violations by permitted industries. To report a health hazard or request an inspection, please contact the 24/7 Environmental Health line at 617-534-5965.     

Boston Environmental Strike Team (BEST)
The Boston Environmental Strike Team is an interagency unit that is comprised of inspectors from the City of Boston ‘s Inspectional Services Department,  Environment Department,  Law  Department, Fire Department, Police Department, Boston Water and Sewer Commission, Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, and the Boston Public Health Commission.

The BEST Team is an exceptional hallmark of cooperation between departments, which has proven to be an effective tool against City –wide polluters.  BEST was created for the purpose of assisting the public welfare and safety by enforcing laws, regulations and city ordinances to provide a clean and healthful environment , free of the effects of illegal dumping of solid waste and hazardous materials,  air pollution, improperly maintained properties and other nuisances that impair Boston’s quality of life.

BEST’s overarching goals are to bring effective combined criminal and civil prosecution seeking injunctions, fines, and imprisonment against major violators.  Where appropriate, BEST acts to bring violations into compliance through education and creative remedial measures. BEST acts to promote environmental justice, safer neighborhoods and a healthier city. It’s achievement is to break through department bureaucracies and to address proactively chronic polluters, illegal dumpers, slum lords and others who violate environmental, building, fire, health and public safety regulations in Boston’s neighborhoods.  ​

Soil Safety
To operate a commercial urban farm in the City of Boston, an individual or organization must apply to the City of Boston Inspectional Services Department, Building Department (ISD) for a Use and Occupancy Permit. A soil safety compliance application will be required as part of that application. The Boston Public Health Commission will review the application in its entirety to ensure that the applicant has met all the steps of the Soil Safety Protocol and will send a letter to ISD to certify compliance.

Soil Safety Guidelines for Commercial Urban Farming
Commercial Urban Farming Soil Safety Compliance Certificate Application

Boston Public Health Commission
1010 Massachusetts Ave, 6th Floor, Boston, MA 02118.
Phone:(617) 534-5395 Email: