Environmental Health

Coronavirus - COVID-19 Information

The most up to date information spefic to licensed establishments with regard to COVID-19 will be posted here. If you have other questions or concerns please call us at 715-485-8400.

Frequently Asked Questions on Gov. Evers Order to Close all Bars/Restaurants etc.
COVID-19 Environmental Health Specific F
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Stay up to date on the latest information from Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP):  Click HERE to visit DATCP

Resources include:

  • Operating Lodging Establishments Following Emergency Order No. 12
  • Guidance for Campgrounds to Slow the Spread of COVID-19
  • Guidance for Grocery, Retail Food Operations Following the 'Safer at Home' Order
  • And much more

Guidlines for Lodging Facilitlies during the COVID-19 Pandamic

Bed and Breakfast Best Practices Checklist
BnB Best Practices checklist.pdf
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Hotel-Motel Best Practices
Hotel-Motel Best practices.pdf
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Tourist Rooming House Best Practices Checklist
TRH Best Practices checklist.pdf
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What are the guidlines for Cleaning and Disinfecting after a confirmed COVID-19 case? Click HERE to see the instructions in EnglishSpanish and Hmong

The Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) has published Frequently Asked Questions - FAQs for homeowners, renters, housing providers in response to COVID-19 Find it HERE

ServSafe offers free courses and videos on safe practices for takeout and delivery:

"As restaurateurs focus their businesses on takeout and delivery during the pandemic, ServSafe, the National Restaurant Association’s food-safety training and certification program, has released two new training videos to help reinforce safe food handling and safe delivery practices for all operations.

In addition to the videos, ServSafe also is offering its online Food Handler training program free through April 30."

Click HERE to access the videos

The Polk County Health Department Environmental Health program offers a wide range of services for the citizens of Polk County.

The main goal of the Environmental Health program is to protect the population from environmental health risks. These programs are primarily based on health protection legislation intended to reduce environmental health risks including potential disease from contaminated food or water and health effects from poor indoor and outdoor air quality.

In addition to regulatory approaches, the programs rely on health promotion and education, advocacy and partnerships, with both government and non-government organizations as well as community groups.


You are now able to pay for Radon Kits, Well Testing, and Licensing online. Click here to pay online.

Environmental Health Services

Air Quality
Indoor Air Quality

Indoor pollution sources that release gases or particles into the air are the primary cause of indoor air quality problems in homes. Inadequate ventilation can increase indoor pollutant levels by not bringing in enough outdoor air to dilute the pollution from indoor sources and by not carrying indoor air pollutants out of the home. High temperature and humidity levels can also increase concentrations of some pollutants.

There are many sources of indoor air pollution in any home. These include:

  • Burning oil, gas, kerosene, coal, wood, and tobacco products
  • Asbestos(mold) in insulation
  • Wet or damp carpet
  • Products for household cleaning, personal care, or hobbies
  • Central heating and cooling systems and humidification devices
  • Outdoor sources such as radon, pesticides, and outdoor air pollution.

Health effects from indoor air pollutants may be experienced soon after exposure or, possibly, years later. Immediate effects may show up after a single exposure or repeated exposures. These include irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. Such immediate effects are usually short-term and treatable. Other health effects may show up either years after exposure has occurred or only after long or repeated periods of exposure. These health effects include respiratory diseases, heart disease, and cancer, and can be very harmful or fatal. It is important to try to improve the indoor air quality in your home even if you have no symptoms.

Links for more information on Indoor Air Quality

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Outdoor Air Quality

The air we breathe is being polluted by activities such as driving cars and trucks; burning coal, oil, and other fossil fuels; and manufacturing chemicals. Air pollution can even come from smaller, everyday activities such as dry cleaning, filling your car with gas, garbage burning and painting operations. These activities add gases and particles to the air we breathe. When these gases and particles add up in the air in high enough concentrations, they can harm us and our environment. More people in cities and surrounding counties means more cars, trucks, industrial and commercial operations, and generally means more pollution.

Air pollution is a problem for all of us. According to the Enivornmental Protrection Agency(EPA) the average adult breathes over 3,000 gallons of air every day. Children breathe even more air per pound of body weight and are more susceptible to air pollution. People exposed to high enough levels of certain air pollutants may experience burning in their eyes, an irritated throat, or breathing difficulties. Long-term exposure to air pollution can cause cancer and long-term damage to the immune, nervous, reproductive, and respiratory systems. In extreme cases, it can even cause death.

Links for more Information on Outdoor Air Quality

EPA-Basic Information on Air and Radiation

Public Service Announcement on Garbage Burning
Garbage burning PSA 2009.pdf
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Bed Bugs
Click here for resources related to Bed Bugs.
Disease Carrying Insects/Vector Control
The definition of a vector is an organism capable of carrying and transmitting a disease-causing agent from one host to another. For example mosquitoes are vectors of malaria and West Nile virus. It is important to understand vectors and how a disease is transmitted, especially in disasters and emergencies when many people may be left without shelters and clean water.

Some disasters give rise to increased populations of vector or nuisance species, usually insects or rodents. Floods may create new mosquito breeding sites in disaster rubble and stagnant pools.  People living in partially destroyed houses or primitive shelters may have lost the normal protection afforded by their homes.

Below is information on West Nile Virus and Lyme Disease two diseases common to Polk County.

West Nile Virus

Infected mosquitoes spread West Nile Virus that can cause serious, life-altering, and even fatal disease. To prevent West Nile Virus and other mosquito-borne diseases, remember:

  • Use mosquito repellent
  • Eliminate standing water where mosquitoes can lay eggs
  • Install or repair window and door screens

Links for more information on West Nile Virus

Stop the Buzz Brochure
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Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is an infection caused by a type of bacterium that is carried by deer ticks. An infected tick can transmit the bacteria to the humans and animals it bites. Untreated, the bacterium travels through the bloodstream, establishes itself in various body tissues, and can cause a number of symptoms, some of which are severe.

Links for more information on Lyme Disease

General Information

Lyme Disease Info Brochure
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Listed below are the steps you must take regarding your complaint about problems, including mold issues, with your landlord before the Health Department can assist you.

Contact your landlord with a letter stating the following 3 things:

  1. Problem-outline the specific problem you would like fixed (mold, leaks, something broken, etc)
  2. Solution-indicate the solution you want to fix the problem, such as washing off the mold, repairing the water leak, and repairing a broken window
  3. Time-give the landlord a specific amount of time to fix the problem. Remember, the time frame will depend upon what solution you are seeking. It will take longer to remove and replace drywall for a mold issue than it will to wash the mold off. Be realistic with the amount of time you request.

Sign, date and make a copy of the letter. Send it certified mail with a return receipt requested.

If the landlord is uncoopertive or unresponsive to your letter and does not remedy the situation within the time frame, contact Brian Hobbs at 715-485-8532 or brianh@co.polk.wi.us at the Polk County Health Department. Before you contact the health department make sure you have a copy of the letter and the return receipt.

Links for more Information

Tenants Rights and Responsibilities

What is Mold?
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Mold Clean-up and Removal
Mold Clean-up.pdf
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Wisconsin Dept of Health Mold Resources DHS Link
Wi Dept of Health Mold Resources DHS Link
Human Health Hazard
The Polk County Human Health Hazard Ordinance describes a human health hazard to be a situation or condition that exists or has a potential to exist which has adversely affected or has the potential to adversely affect the health of a person and/or the general public.

This ordinance gives the Health Department the authority to investigate instances of potential human health hazards including accumulations of animal or human wastes; garbage; scrap metal; tires, and other material that may create a health hazard in which insects, rats or other vermin can breed, live, nest or seek shelter. Unhealthy or unsanitary conditions may also fall under the human health hazard ordinance.

In addition to the county ordinance, there is also state law relating to human health hazards found in Wisconsin Statute 254, Subchapter VI.

If you would like to report a potential human health hazard, please contact the Polk County Health Department at 715-485-8400. Follow up will be made by Health Department staff to determine whether the issue falls under the human health hazard definition. The Health Department has the authority to issue orders for cleanup and, if necessary, is also authorized to issue a citation under the Human Health Hazard Ordinance if the violation is not remedied.

WI Statute 254.59

Polk County Human Health Ordinance
Human Health ordinance.pdf
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Licensing & Inspection
Radon is a naturally occurring gas that comes from the natural breakdown of uranium and gets into the air you breathe. Radon is colorless, tasteless and odorless. It's a silent killer, since people can't tell if they're being exposed. When you breathe air containing radon, you may increase your risk of getting lung cancer.

Unfortunately, the human body does not produce symptoms or warning signs to alert us when being exposed to radiation. Radon causes lung cancer, but does not cause headaches, nausea or other feelings of ill health. Most people won’t know they have cancer until they hear it from their doctor. The only way to know if your family is being exposed to radon is to test your home for it.

Radon may enter a home anywhere there is an opening between the home and the soil and directly through concrete.  These openings include floor drains, sumps, foundation cracks, and many more. It moves up through the ground to the air above and into your home through the foundation. Your home traps radon inside where it can build up. Any home can have a radon problem. This means new and old homes, well-sealed and drafty homes and homes with or without basements.

Testing is the only way to know if you and your family are at risk from radon. Testing is inexpensive and easy.

How do I test?

If you've never tested your home before, it is recommended that you start with a short-term charcoal test. The test remains in your home for two days, is mailed to a lab and the results are returned to you. (See the attachment below for a radon test kit order form)

Don't mistake your smoke detector or carbon monoxide detector for a radon detector. The ONLY way to test your home for radon is with a radon testing kit.

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What do my results mean?

Below is information regarding interpreting your radon test results. If the result is:

Below 4 pCi/L
Test Results below 4.pdf
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4 to 10 pCi/L
Test Results 4-10.pdf
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Over 10 pCi/L
Test Results 10 or above.pdf
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Long Term Test or Two Short Term Tests Over 4 pCi/L
Test Results mitigation.pdf
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For more information or if you have questions, feel free to contact us at 715-485-8540.

Links for more Information on Radon

PCHD Brochure on Radon
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Polk County is the Radon Information Center (RIC) for Burnett, Douglas, Polk and Washburn Counties. We provide education, technical support and testing kits to RIC residents. Our goal is to test all homes in the RIC area. For more information call 715-485-8400.
Water Quality
The two most common water contaminants are coliform bacteria and nitrate. Public water systems regularly test for these contaminants, but if you have a private well, it's up to you to make sure your water is tested. If you have a private water supply, you are responsible for the quality of water that your family and guests drink. That's why you need to test your private water supply at least once a year – more often if problems arise. Test kits are available at Polk County Health Department, call 715-485-8400 for more information.

Some common contaminants to test for include:

With a private well consider testing if:

  • you have recurrent incidents of gastrointestinal illness
  • water has an objectionable taste or smell
  • plumbing shows signs of corrosion or contains lead pipes, brass fittings and fixtures, or lead-solder joints; your water stains plumbing fixtures and laundry
  • water appears cloudy, frothy or colored
  • you are pregnant or anticipating pregnancy
  • you have an infant less than six months old

Links for more Information of Private Wells