Section 24 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa entrenches the right of all citizens to live in an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being. Section 83 of the National Health Act, 2003 (Act 61 of 2003), defines municipal health services and clearly stipulates the responsibilities of municipalities in the performance of such services.

Environmental health comprises those aspects of human health, including quality of life, that are determined by physical, chemical, biological, social and psychosocial factors in the environment. It also refers to the theory and practice of assessing, correcting, controlling and preventing factors in the environment that can adversely affect the health of present and future generations. (WHO).

The identification, evaluation, control as well as prevention through education of all those factors in the total environment which exercise a detrimental effect on individual physical, mental and social well-being and development. It also implies continuous efforts to educate and prevent individuals from affecting the environment in such a way that it becomes detrimental to their well-being and development.

In order to fulfil its constitutional and legal obligations, the EThekwini Municipality Environmental Health Services fulfils its mandate through highly qualified and skilled environmental health practitioners (EHPs). They provide and facilitate comprehensive, pro-active and needs-related services to ensure a safe, healthy and clean environment, thereby preventing and eliminating disease.  They act as Public arbiters of Environmental Health standards, maintaining close contact with the communities they serve.

The role and function of the Municipal Health Services (Environmental Health)

Health surveillance of premises
Residential, Business and Public premises are regularly monitored to identify, monitor and evaluate health risks and hazards and institute remedial and preventative measures. Building Plan scrutiny, commenting and participating on Environmental Impact assessments. Assessing aspects such as ventilation and indoor air quality, lighting, moisture –proofing, thermal quality, structural safety and floor space. Ensuring the abatement and prevention of any condition on any premises which is likely to constitute a nuisance or health hazard.

Surveillance and prevention of communicable diseases
Investigating environmental factors relating to the spread of notifiable infectious diseases and putting measures in place to prevent the spread thereof. Education, health and hygiene promotion programmes are the main tool for equipping communities. Collecting, analysing and disseminating epidemiological data and information. Conducting Epidemiological surveillance of diseases.

Environmental pollution control
Ensuring hygienic working, living and recreational environments
Identifying the polluting agents and sources of water, air and soil pollution.
Taking the required preventative measures to ensure that the general environment is free from health risks.

Ensuring the registration, permitting, monitoring and auditing of all industries, activities, trade etc which involves controlling the internal effects of pollution on the worker and the external effects of pollution on the community and the environment.
Air quality management
Ensuring clean and safe externally (ambient and point sources) through emission inventory monitoring, modelling and toxicological reports, reviews and complaint investigations.
Noise management
Controlling and preventing vibration and noise pollution


Water quality monitoring 
Implementation of the water quality strategy which calls for monitoring and sampling of water intended for use for human consumption and for recreational and commercial use. Also the monitoring of surface waters for waterborne diseases.

Ensuring the monitoring of effective waste water treatment and water pollution control, including the collection, treatment and safe disposal of sewage and other water-borne waste, and surveillance of the quality of surface water(including sea water) and ground water.
Sampling and testing water.
Food safety management
The EThekwini Environmental Health Unit ensures that both the Informal and Formal sectors are monitored to ensure the safe handling of food during production, storage and delivery of these foodstuffs. This is done by evaluating food premises and food transportation vehicles and issuing of COA to compliant premises, as well as monitoring compliance with legal requirements and instituting remedial measures where necessary. Licensing of food premises condemnation of unsafe foods and ensuring the sale and supply of safe meat and milk into the Metro. 
Vector control
The Ethekweni Environmental Health Unit has a dedicated section that deals primarily with eradication and identification of vectors their habitats and breeding places. Conducting vector control in the interest of public health, including control of arthropods, molluscs, rodents and other alternative hosts of diseases.

Ensuring the residual spraying of premises and precincts.

Investigating zoonotic diseases and vector-borne diseases in the working and living environment.
Disposal of the dead
Controlling, restricting or prohibiting the business of an undertaker or embalmer, mortuaries and other places or facilities for the storage of dead bodies.

Monitoring practices at cemeteries, crematoria and other facilities used for the disposal of dead bodies.
Managing, controlling and monitoring exhumations and reburials or the disposal of remains.

Issuing certificates of Competency to Funeral Undertakers premises complying with legislation.
Investigating and performing pauper burials.
Chemical safety
Permitting, licensing and auditing the premises that deal with chemicals e.g by issuing of Schedule Trade Permits.

Facilitating advice, education and training of pesticides and or chemical safety.
Waste Management
Ensuring the proper refuse storage, collection, transportation, transfer and processing, materials recovery and final disposal.

Ensuring proper management of liquid waste including sewage and industrial effluents.

Ensuring the proper storage, collection, transportation, handling and disposal of Health care risk waste and hazardous waste.

Advocating proper sanitation;

Controlling the handling and disposal of diseased animal tissue.

Ensuring safe usage of treated sewage sludge and ensuring that reclaimed waste is safe for health.
Ensuring waste management and adherence to the cradle to grave approach.

Monitoring and Evaluation section within the Environmental Health department is a section that is there to improve the quality of service delivered in the Environmental Health Services component of the Health Unit.

The Environmental Health Monitoring and Evaluation section seeks to ensure that EHS render an effective, efficient, accessible, quality service to our communities and also ensure development of effective and efficient operational systems including adherence and continuous improvement.

For any information or queries about Environmental Health Services, please contact our Complaints line below.

Our Head office contact details are as follows:  
Tel: 031 311 3555
Fax: 031 311 3530
After Hours: 031 361 0000
Physical address: 9 Archie Gumede Place, Durban, 4000