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Human health and wellbeing are linked to the state of the environment.

EPA seeks to protect the environment for the benefit of Victorians, now and in the future. To support a livable and prosperous Victoria, we aim to:

  • protect human health and wellbeing
  • maintain healthy ecological systems
  • protect the value our natural environment provides for recreation. 

How EPA protects the environment and human health

EPA’s role is to prevent harm to human health and the environment from pollution and waste. Environmental public health is the part of that role that focuses on preventing harm to human health from pollution and waste.

We deal with how past, current and potential future impacts of pollution and waste can affect human health. 

To do this, EPA: 

  • works to strengthen air and water quality standards and laws to make sure public health is protected
  • does air and water quality monitoring. We then report it to the public through AirWatch, Beach Report and Yarra Watch with emergency and incident response advice
  • does pilot studies into air and water pollution and their sources
  • targets risks of harm to communities. For example, waste stockpiles
  • works to improve industry practices with the aim of reducing and preventing land and water contamination.

Environmental public health team

EPA also has an environmental public health team that:

  • helps develop policies and programs with public health issues in mind
  • investigates public health risks from emerging contaminants and other hazards from pollution and waste
  • is developing an environmental health tracking network. This will collect, integrate, analyse and interpret data, to prevent and monitor health impacts from environmental conditions
  • responds to emergencies related to environmental public health
  • supports EPA’s regulatory functions on human health issues.

Health advice

EPA can provide advice about health concerns and management of:

  • asbestos (from commercial or industrial waste or transport of waste)
  • dust (from an industrial source)
  • odour (from an industrial source)
  • noise (from an industrial source)
  • smoke and air quality; see the State Smoke Framework (PDF)
  • non-communicable (not infectious) disease that may be related to pollution or waste
  • biological agents related to pollution and waste (for example, sewage)
  • clinical (infectious) waste
  • waste management and landfills
  • clandestine laboratories (guidance for local council)
  • treated timber
  • chemical contamination of recreationally caught fish
  • indoor air quality (when affected by outside sources)
  • contaminated land.
Contact us or call us on 1300 372 842 with any concerns about pollution and waste’s impact on human health. We’re here 24 hours.  

Who to contact about disease outbreaks and human health

EPA does not deal with disease outbreaks or the impact on human health of diseases or illnesses. That is the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)’s role. DHHS deals with health concerns relating to: 

  • communicable diseases 
  • Legionella
  • drinking water 
  • radiation 
  • blood lead levels 
  • pest control 
  • food safety. 

Contact DHHS with any concerns about the impact of diseases or illnesses on public health.

Who to contact about nuisance queries and human health

Under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008local councils can respond to nuisance queries that may relate to pollution and waste issues. EPA can provide councils with help when required.

Councils can provide health advice on:

  • asbestos (dumped or from a domestic source)
  • dust (from a domestic or commercial source)
  • odour (from a domestic or commercial source)
  • noise (from a domestic or commercial source)
  • agricultural spray drift
  • clandestine laboratories
  • wood heater smoke
  • domestic burning
  • health in the heat.

Find out more about other public health issues related to pollution and waste

About mercury in your home

Airborne dust and your health

Arsenic and your health

Climate, weather and public health

Contaminated illegal drug labs and public health 

Contaminated land and public health

Environmental public health

Groundwater and your health

How to clean up mercury spills in your home

How to manage hazardous chemical waste and asbestos in your home

Trichloroethylene and your health

Your health and the environment: learn and take action

Reviewed 16 March 2021