Public Health

People’s health can be impacted by many things in the environment.  The Queensland Public Health Act 2005 provides legislation where the local authority has powers to investigate and undertake compliance action if a Public Health Risk has been identified.

Council only has jurisdiction to act on certain public health risk issues, and share the responsibility with other government agencies including Queensland Health & Work Safe.

Examples of a Public Health Risk include:

Mosquito Management

Mosquitoes live and breed in different environments. Some live and breed in containers holding water around your house and yard while others are found in salt marshes or freshwater pools in the natural environment.

Some types of mosquitoes can spread disease to humans and animals while others are just a nuisance. The most common mosquito-borne diseases in Queensland are due to Ross River and Barmah Forest viruses.

Outbreaks of dengue fever have also been reported annually in north Queensland. Kunjin virus disease and Murray Valley encephalitis (MVE) have also rarely been reported.

Also some mosquitoes that breed around your house and yard can give your dog heart worm. So by stopping mosquitoes from breeding you will protect your family and pets

The risks

Mosquitoes that breed around houses can transmit diseases such as Ross River Virus, Barmah Forest and Dengue Fever to humans, and heartworms to dogs.

Under the Public Health Regulation 2005, it is an offence to have mosquitoes breeding in water at a place and penalties may apply.

The North Burnett Region does have a number of different types of mosquitoes including the mosquito called Aedes aegypti which is also known as the Dengue Mosquito. This is a great concern and Council needs your help to eradicate this mosquito.

Stopping Mosquito Breeding is Everyone’s Business

You can reduce the risk of your family being infected with dengue fever, Ross River Virus or Barmah Forest Virus just by eliminating mosquito breeding sites.  These mosquitoes like to live and breed around people’s homes.  The mosquito tends to hide under furniture and usually bites people indoors and during the day.

Council would like to encourage residents to scour their homes and gardens for things like buckets, old tyres, tin cans, toys, drains, gutters, plastic containers, fallen palm fronds, pot plant bases, vases, indoor plants and tip out the water and move or dispose the items so they can’t fill up with water.  Also, checking rain water tanks to ensure they have screens on them so the mossies can’t breed.

You can also help control mosquitoes around the home:

  • Pot plant bases: Preferably dispose of the base altogether. Alternatively, empty and clean the base weekly or put sand in it to absorb the water.
  • Tins, tyres, jars, toys and rubbish items: Any items left lying around the yard that hold water will breed mosquitoes. Store under cover and dispose of all unwanted items.
  • Roof gutters: Clean out leaves and other debris regularly. Cut back and trim trees. Blocked gutters will breed mosquitoes.
  • Bromeliads and other water holding plants: Other than removing the plants altogether use a high pressure hose to remove any mosquito larvae.
  • Rainwater, wells and drums: Large water holding containers must be screened with wire gauze no coarser than 1mm mesh.
  • Bird baths, fish ponds and ornamental ponds: Clean weekly to remove mosquito larvae. Keep Australian native fish in your ponds.
  • Swimming pools: Keep chlorinated and regularly operate the pool pump all year round.
  • Drains or depressions: Maintain drains to allow for water flow. Fill in any depressions to prevent water ponding

What is Council doing?

Local Governments in Queensland in accordance with the Public Health Act 2005 are responsible for the mosquito borne disease prevention and control which includes community education, mosquito surveillance and control. North Burnett Regional Council is working with Consultants and experts in mosquito control to reduce the risk of disease.

How does Council treat mosquitoes?

Council encourages householders to reduce water sources around homes, however if breeding is found Council officers are required to undertake measures to reduce breeding by removing the water source or with a treatment product that is similar to household pest control products found in your local hardware store.

If there are any queries about these you can contact Councils Environmental Health Department on 1300 696 272 for further information.

For other treatment options or further information contact your local government or visit the Queensland Health Mosquito-borne Diseases website

http://www.health.qld.gov.au/mossiediseases/

Littering & Illegal Dumping

Every year, Council spends an enormous amount of time and money to clean up litter and illegally dumped waste in the North Burnett. Problems associated with littering/illegal dumping Littering and illegal dumping of waste has the potential to cause health and safety risks for both people and the natural environment. It can:

  • Contain broken glass, syringes, nappies, medical waste and toxic substances like asbestos;
  • Attract rodents, insects and other vermin;
  • Provide an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes;
  • Block waterways and stormwater drains, increasing the potential for flooding and erosion;
  • Be a potential fire hazard;
  • Attract further dumping;
  • Other antisocial and illegal activities;
  • Decrease community pride and intensifies the problem;
  • Build up next to roads;
  • Block gutters and find its way into creeks, rivers and onto beaches
  • Harm and/or kill wildlife

What is Littering and Illegal Dumping? Littering: Litter has been defined as the deposit of waste at a place that is an amount less than 200L in volume. Common types of litter include cigarette butts, drink bottles, fast food wrappers, material from a trailer that is poorly secured, grass clippings swept into the gutter, fishing tackle. Dangerous Littering: Deposits equalling an amount less than 200L in volume, that causes or is likely to cause harm to a person or the environment. Examples include throwing a lit cigarette onto dry grass in extreme fire danger conditions; smashing a glass bottle and leaving the broken glass on a footpath; leaving a syringe in a public place other than in a container intended to receive used syringes. Illegal Dumping: Illegal dumping has been defined as the deposit of waste at a place that is an amount equalling amounts greater than 200L in volume. Dumping is unsightly, degrades the local environment and costs rate payers each year to clean up. Illegal dumping includes items such as bags of household rubbish, garden waste, building and commercial materials, household goods, scrap tyres and hazardous waste. Queensland Littering Laws and Penalties The Waste Reduction and Recycling Act 2011 includes a range of offences for litter and illegal dumping, including:

  • General littering
  • Littering from a vehicle
  • Dangerous littering
  • Illegal dumping
  • Failing to clean up waste

Local governments and the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (DEHP) have a shared responsibility for litter and illegal dumping enforcement. Authorised officers from council and Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (DEHP) can issue fines and direction notices for litter and illegal dumping offence. Examples of litter and illegal dumping fines are included in the table below:

Waste Reduction and Recycling Act 2011 section and offence Penalty Infringement Notice (PIN)
Section 103(1)(a): general littering if the offence involves dangerous littering 40pp
Section 103(1)(b): general littering 30pp
Section 104(1)(a): illegal dumping of waste provision if the offence involves depositing a volume of less than 2500L of waste 400pp
Section 104(1)(b): illegal dumping of waste provision if the offence involves depositing a volume of more than 2500L of waste 1000pp
Section 251(a): If the compliance notice relates to a contravention of section 107(1), 108, or 109(1) or (2) 40pp
Section 251(b): If the compliance notice relates to a contravention of section 43(3) or (4) 200pp
Section 251(c): Otherwise 300pp
Section 265: giving false or misleading information 1665pp

 

How to Report Littering / Illegal Dumping

If you witness an illegal dumping or littering incident, then please either:

Asbestos

During the 1940s to late 1980s asbestos was widely used as building material. Before the health risks were known it was used, due to it being durable, fire resistant and having good insulation properties. Such products included roofing material, guttering, vinyl flooring, ceiling tiles, fire proofing, and many more applications.

The manufacture and use of asbestos products was banned nationally from 31 December 2003. This ban applies to manufacture, supply, storage, sale, use, reuse, installation and replacement of asbestos, except in special circumstances (e.g. removal and disposal of asbestos, bona fide research, etc.).

The human health effects from exposure to asbestos are well documented.  Inhaling one fibre does not mean you will get an asbestos related disease.

If you suspect a building or place has asbestos dust, do not disturb it. Contact a licensed contractor: they are listed in the Yellow Pages under ‘asbestos removal and treatment’.

Who is at risk of developing asbestos-related diseases?

We are all exposed to low levels of asbestos in the air we breathe every day. Most people do not become ill from low levels of asbestos present in the environment. Most people are also exposed to higher levels of asbestos at some time in their lives; for example, in their workplace, community or home. However, for most people, this kind of infrequent exposure is also unlikely to result in any ill effects.

Most people who develop asbestos-related diseases have worked on jobs where they frequently breathed in large amounts of asbestos fibres. For example, in the past, construction workers using unsafe practices may have frequently encountered asbestos fibre levels well above background levels. In the past, workers in asbestos milling or mining often encountered fibre concentrations a million times higher than background levels.

Family members of exposed workers or those who lived close to active asbestos mines are also at risk. An exposed worker or home renovator can carry asbestos fibres on their clothing, boots, skin, hair and tools. Householders should be alert to ensure family members are not exposed to these fibres.

If left untouched, asbestos poses no immediate danger. Asbestos products that are mishandled, broken or disturbed through activities such as pressure cleaning and cutting or sanding with power tools can release the hazardous fibres.

How to identify Asbestos

Asbestos fibres are not visible to the naked eye but, they are very light, remain airborne for a long time, and can be carried by wind and air currents over large distances.

It is difficult to identify asbestos by sight, but as a rule, if your house was built:

  • before the mid 1980s it is more than likely to contain asbestos materials
  • between the mid 1980s and 1990 it is likely to contain asbestos materials
  • after the 1990s it is unlikely to contain asbestos materials.

Products that may contain asbestos include:

  • flat, corrugated or bitumen roofing material
  • ceiling tiles
  • vinyl and thermoplastic floor tiles and backing to vinyl flooring
  • carpet underlay (hessian)
  • internal and external wall sheeting, textured coatings
  • gutters, rainwater pipes and water tanks
  • insulation around pipes and electrical equipment
  • fire proofing around flues and ducts
  • sprayed on to steelwork.

Asbestos Removal

Don’t endanger yourself, your family and your community by trying to remove or demolish asbestos yourself.

If you are renovating your home and your house was built prior to 1990 investigate further about the types of material the house maybe made of. Queensland Health and Work Safe encourage home owners to employ the services of a Licensed Asbestos removal company.

A Licensed person has the correct equipment for removal and disposal and clean up of the area safely.

Disposal of Asbestos

Some of Council’s Landfill disposal sites take asbestos waste. However, there are stipulations when a person wishes to use these facilities:

  • Material must be double wrapped in black plastic.
  • Minimum 24 hours’ notice is required – this is to ensure that the waste material delivered to Landfill can be covered immediately.
  • Commercial clients must produce a Waste Transport Certificate.
  • Payment will be required at the gate unless a Monthly Waste account has been approved.

 

Unloading Asbestos Containing Material

  • Small quantities to be unloaded by hand
  • Transporters wanting to tip the waste must ensure it is encased in plywood or a plastic lined coffin of timber or steel.
  • Transporters wishing to unload by sling must ensure that their unloading procedures are capable of maintaining the integrity of the plastic wrapping. Crane unloading is Council’s preferred method.

Council reserves the right to reject any waste prepared for tipping if the coffin or tipping procedure is considered unsatisfactory by Council’s landfill attendant.

Council reserves the right to reject any waste prepared for sling unloading if the procedure or preparation is considered unsatisfactory by Council’s landfill attendant.

Safety Procedures

    • All unnecessary personnel should be excluded from the disposal area.
  • Plant operators and truck drivers should remain in the vehicle with the cabin sealed.
  • Any personnel who have to be outside the vehicle to unload must be wearing a dust mask.

 

Please note: Council will not assist with the unloading and the transporter must be capable of unloading the waste into the asbestos removal area without breading the plastic wrapping.

Lodge a Service Request

  • If you believe a homeowner, occupant or owner-builder is unsafely handling, removing or transporting asbestos material or a person has illegally dumped asbestos waste, Please contact Council immediately on 1300 696 272.
  • If you believe a business or contractor is unsafely handling, removing or transporting asbestos materials, phone the Queensland Department of Justice and the Attorney-General (Workplace Health and Safety Queensland) on 1300 369 915.

More Information

A guide for Home Renovators – minor renovations

http://www.deir.qld.gov.au/asbestos/resources/pdfs/asbestos-home-renovators-trades-guide.pdf

A guide for householders and the general public

http://www.health.gov.au/internet/publications/publishing.nsf/Content/asbestos-toc

You can contact the state departments on

  • Queensland Health on 1300 744 636
  • Workplace Health & Safety Queensland on 1300 369 915.
Tank Water

Council along with Queensland Health considers the provision of safe drinking water supplies an essential prerequisite for the health of all Queenslanders. While Council largely focuses on reticulated water supply in the region we also recognise that there are many areas of North Burnett which rely on private drinking water supplies sourced from rain, bore or surface water.

Guidelines

Queensland Health provides guidance about public health and the use of rainwater tanks.  They advise a number of key items to keep in mind when using Rain Water Tanks:

  • Roof-harvested rainwater can become contaminated from a range of sources including animals.
  • Recommends residents with access to reticulated or town water supplies should use these supplies for drinking, personal hygiene and food preparation, rather than rainwater.
  • Roof-harvested rainwater may be used for flushing toilets, laundry, watering gardens and lawns as these uses generally present low risk.
  • Recommends residents without access to reticulated or town water supplies should consider implementing appropriate control measures to ensure the safety of their rainwater.
  • This should include complying with the design and maintenance recommendations provided in the Australian guidelines above.

Qld Health – Recycled & Rain Water

http://www.health.qld.gov.au/public-health/industry-environment/environment-land-water/water/quality/recycled-non-drinking/default.asp

Qld Health Factsheet – Rainwater

http://www.health.qld.gov.au/publications/public-health/industry-environment/environment-land-water/Water/factsheet-rainwater.pdf

The Australian Government has developed a guideline for drinking water and the use of rain water.  This guideline provides information about how to manage and prevent the risks associated with drinking water from Rain Water Tanks.

http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/ohp-enhealth-raintank-cnt.htm

Maintenance

Under the Queensland Plumbing and Drainage Act 2002, the property owner must maintain plumbing and drainage on their property. This includes all apparatus, fittings or pipes for supplying water to the premises from a service provider’s infrastructure or from a water storage tank and for moving water within a premise.

Some recommendations to ensure your tank is being maintained please find below:

  • keep your roof clear of large tree branches overhanging your house roof and tank
  • keep gutters and downpipes clear of leaves and debris
  • check inlet and overflow screens are securely in place and cleaned regularly
  • install a first flush diverter which stops the initial flow of water from your roof from entering the tank
  • open and cleaning out first flush devices after rain events
  • check the tank and fittings regularly for leaks
  • replace cartridges in water filters and chemicals or components in water treatment units strictly according to manufacturer’s instructions or engage a Licensed Plumber on a maintenance schedule.
  • check sludge levels in the bottom of the tank every two to three years or if you notice any sediment in the water
  • remove sludge before the layer builds to the level of the tank outlet – usually once every five to ten years
  • avoid using harsh cleaning products that may contaminate your rainwater

Tank Desludging

Do not enter the tank as this is dangerous and should be left to professionals.

All tanks should be examined for the accumulation of sediments every 2-3 years, or if sediment is evident in the water flow.  Accumulated sediments can be a source of chemical contamination and off-tastes and odours.

Tank cleaning businesses (generally listed in telephone directories) may be available to de-sludge tanks.

Corrosion

Direct contact between different metals or run-off from one metal surface to another can cause accelerated corrosion or holes when metals are wet. Metal roofing materials, roof accessories, gutters, screens, piping and steel rainwater tanks can cause or be affected by corrosion.

Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes breed if they get inside a tank or systems where water does not drain from pipes, gutters and plumbing. Mosquitoes can carry diseases like Ross River and Dengue Fever.

You can stop mosquitoes breeding in your rainwater tank by:

  • ensuring there is no debris in the tank
  • installing guttering that stops water pooling
  • ensuring water does not pool on the tank lid
  • sealing all entry routes to the tank including inlet and overflow pipes with mosquito-proof screens
  • have openings less than one millimetre squared
  • be made of stainless steel or aluminium

Buying Water for your Water Tanks

When buying spring or other water for your Tanks at home it is imperative you be vigilant.  There are some key items to be aware of when purchasing your next load of water:

  • Check that the water carrier business is licensed with Council prior to ordering.
  • When ordering a load, ask where the water will come from. All water carriers are required to obtain water from an approved source.
  • Clean out any sediment in your tank with any remaining water as this will be stirred up when filling the tanks and may give the water an unpleasant taste or odour. Be aware that scrubbing the sides of your tank may add an unpleasant taste or odour to the water.
  • Check truck delivering the water for a License number and a “DRINKING WATER ONLY” sign. If you have any doubts about the water or the business please contact Council.
  • Other tips before accepting a load of water is to ask for a sample before accepting the load. The water should be clear, however, it may taste of chlorine if it has come from a treated supply. If the water is not clear and has a taste other than chlorine, do not accept the load.
  • After the water has been delivered you notice an undesirable taste, it could be due to the mixing of sediment, sludge and algae from within your tank. If possible, allow the water to settle for 24-48 hours before using for drinking. Any taste of chlorine should go after a couple of days in a well-ventilated tank.
  • Sometimes organic material in your tank can cause reactions, such as iodine, chloramines, trihalomethanes, ammonia and hydrogen sulphide which cause a very unpleasant taste and odour. You may have received a number of loads from a water carrier in the past and this problem did not occur. This is because it is dependent on the organic content and algae in your tank. You may even notice this odour while you are showering.

Some Councils offer a water sampling service, for a fee, to test water for bacterial, chemical, pesticide and heavy metal contamination.

The sale of water (i.e. water carrier)

If you want to provide water to the public you must hold a Food Business License with the relevant Local Government that you are obtaining the water from.  Please refer to the Food Business License Information on the website.

 

If you have a problem with a public health issue, always attempt to discuss the matter directly with the person responsible for the nuisance in order to rectify and achieve a suitable solution.  Please give reasonable timeframes for action to be undertaken.

Lodge a Customer Service Request

If the matter continues it may then be necessary for you to contact the relevant department to take further action. To lodge a Customer Service Request, please contact Council on 1300 696 272.

The following table provides a guide on the type of Public Health Risk and which department investigates these matters. Please follow the relevant links:

Public Health Risk Description of Nuisance Regulatory Authority
Mosquitoes Biting or Breeding or Disease concerns on council land, residential and some commercial land. Council

Phone 1300 696 272

Vermin Breeding or potential for breeding on council land, residential land some commercial land Council

Phone 1300 696 272

Asbestos Asbestos at a workplace Work Safe Qld

1300 362 128

Homeowner carrying out works at home on asbestos material Council

Phone 1300 696 272

Tank Water Health concerns about non-reticulated water for example   Tank Water. Council

Phone 1300 696 272

Lead Occurring at a Workplace Work Safe Qld

1300 362 128

Occurring at a non-workplace i.e. home owner undertaking works at home Queensland Health

Phone (07) 3234 0111

Waste Accumulation or deposit on land. Council

Phone 1300 696 272

Waste Water Wastewater or sewage release on a property. Council

Phone 1300 696 272

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