The mission of the Watertown Health department is to protect and promote health, prevent disease and disability, and access and improve the health status of the community. Its divisions include:
- Animal Control
- Board of Health
- Community Health Services
- Community Wellness Programs
- Educational Resources
- Emergency Preparedness
- Environmental Services
- Tobacco Control
Click the link for the Health Departments latest annual report (PDF)
Recent News and Press Releases
Featured Topic: Radon
With winter upon us, now is a good time to learn about radon and testing your home for radon.
Did you know that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S.? The EPA estimates that over 21,000 lung cancer deaths in the U.S. each year are related to radon.
Radon gas decays into microscopic particles that can be inhaled into the lungs. Radon particles trapped in the lungs continue to breakdown, damaging the lung tissue during this decay process. This damage increases the risk of developing lung cancer. Among people who have never smoked, radon is the leading cause of lung cancer.
Radon also increases the chance of lung cancer in people that smoke. For those who are exposed to elevated indoor radon levels, people who smoke have up to 10 times the risk of developing lung cancer than people who have never smoked. MA EPHT's radon page features a radon risk table and a map of radon zones in Massachusetts.
Radon in Homes
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that is odorless, colorless, and tasteless. As a gas, radon can move through pathways in soil and rock formations.
How does radon enter homes?
- through cracks and crevices in the foundation floors and walls
- floor wall joints
- penetrations of utility lines and sump holes
- private water well
Once inside an enclosed space, such as a home, radon can collect. Most radon gas found in a home comes up from the ground, so the amount of radon is likely to be greater in the lowest levels of the home. Radon levels are usually higher in the winter time because, during the heating season, warm air rises and escapes. This creates a vacuum in the lowest part of the house that causes the house to draw air, including radon, from below the home. Any equipment that exhausts air or requires venting can also contribute to the vacuum effect.
Testing the air in a home is the only way to know if indoor radon levels are elevated. If you test your home in the warm weather and get a low result, it is wise to test again during the heating season. If you have a private well, you should have your water tested for radon too.
For information about testing your home for radon call the MDPH Radon Unit. The EPA also has resources online: A Citizen's Guide to Radon and the Home Buyer's and Seller's Guide to Radon. If you smoke and would like to stop, you should contact the Smoker's Helpline at 1-800-QUITNOW or visit their website.
DIY Weddings and Food Safety
USDA Provides Food Safety Tips for Kitchen Confidence
USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service invites home cooks to gain kitchen confidence by refreshing their perspectives on food safety. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that each year approximately 48 million Americans suffer from foodborne illnesses, leading to 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths. Many of these illnesses can be prevented by changing behaviors in the kitchen and gaining a little kitchen confidence.
Duties & Responsibilities
Environmental Health Services consist of mandated and non-mandated inspection programs including, but not limited to: Housing, Body Art, Food Establishments, Odor Noise and Dust, Tanning Establishments, Hazardous Waste Inspection, Lead Paint and Asbestos.
A full-time animal control officer (ACO) provides services for Watertown. The ACO responds to citizens’ complaints and enforces the provisions of the Animal Control Ordinance. The department hosts an annual rabies day for cats and dogs under the auspices of town veterinarian Thomas Cusick, D.V.M.
The Health Department offers a variety of free community health services to its residents such as: Tuberculosis Screening (Mantoux test), Flu & Pneumonia Clinics, Blood Pressure Screening and Health Education.
Board of Health
The Watertown Board of Health consists of: John H. Straus, M.D., Chairman, Barbara D. Beck, Ph.D., Clerk, and Richard Arnold, FNP BC, Member.