Environmental Services

At Knox County Health Department, our Environmental Public Health Specialist (EPHS) on staff promotes safe and healthy environmental conditions for the benefit of all residents and visitors.  We want to prevent disease through inspections and consultations.

Environmental Public Health Services Include:

The Knox County Health Department conducts food inspections under the authority of the State of Missouri. Food establishments include restaurants, taverns, grocery stores, mobile food units, temporary food events open to the public, convenience stores, and other food retail environments. We also offer food safety consultations and education.

All food establishment plans for new facilities or major remodels are conducted in order to review the layout. Use the following link to apply for a new food establishment or a major remodel to an existing business. https://health.mo.gov/safety/foodsafety/pdf/580-3058.pdf Our inspections follow the Missouri Food Code https://health.mo.gov/safety/foodsafety/pdf/missourifoodcode.pdf  If deficiencies are found during the inspection, the establishment will be categorized according to associated risk factors that lead to foodborne illness. We will then issue a timeline for the necessary corrections.

A Certified Food Protection Manager exam is offered at the Health Department and advanced scheduling is required. You can study for the exam online at https://www.statefoodsafety.com/ or purchase the National Restaurant Association “ServSafe” Course Book (available at the Health Department). This Basic Food Handler class provides restaurant workers with fundamental food safety training and an exam for $20 per person. A Manager Class is intended for chefs, supervisors, and others in a leadership role. The class price is $100 and includes one examination session.

Food recalls are usually associated with food or ingredients unsafe for human consumption, improper labeling, or undeclared allergens. For more information on food recalls, use the following links: MODHSS or the FDA.

Food safety is a concern for everyone especially with foods that innately have bacteria associated with them. For instance, individuals need to be educated about the risks of consuming raw milk. For more information regarding food safety, use the following links: MO DHSS Safety, CDC, or Real Raw Milk Facts. In addition, vendors need to be aware of safety issues for selling local foods in Missouri. For more information, follow this link: Univ. of MO Extension

The Environmental Public Health Specialist (EPHS) inspects lodging facilities to assess drinking water supply, wastewater handling, sanitation/housekeeping, life safety, fire safety, swimming pools/spas, plumbing and mechanical, heating, venting, and air conditioning equipment.  Municipal regulatory authority requirements are accepted by the Health Department where ordinances exist.    Where applicable lodging inspections are conducted in conjunction with local Fire Inspectors. Those establishments meeting sanitation and safety standards outlined in the lodging rule, 19 CSR 20-3.050, receive an approved inspection report. Re-inspections are conducted as needed.

The Knox County Health Department can provide lists of licensed and unlicensed lodging establishments in the state of Missouri for those planning a trip or looking for lodging. Fpr more information, follow these links: DHSS and MO Licensed Lodging List

For information regarding COVID-19 or other health needs, follow this link: DHSS    MO Dept of Natural Resources

Notify the Knox County Environmental Health Department of all animal bites and exposure to bats. Our trained EPHS is available for post-exposure consultation and treatment. We also coordinate rabies testing on animals. Please contact 660.397.3396 to set up an appointment for review and possible testing.  Because not all specimens meet testing requirements, testing is at the discretion of the health department. Fees may apply.

Ticks are very common in Missouri. At least six (6) tick-borne diseases can possibly be transmitted to humans. The EPHS assists the communicable disease nurse in addressing rabies testing and animal bites. For more information on taking steps to prevent tick-borne diseases, follow these links: DHSS and MO Dept. of Conservation

The Knox County Environmental Public Health Specialist consults property owners in our county to inform prospective buyers and sellers regarding on-site wastewater treatment systems and related standards. The Knox County Health Department is required by law to notify and make an assessment of complaints regarding on-site wastewater treatment systems. All systems are required to meet the rules decreed by the law, including provisions relating to the construction, operation, major modification, and repair of on-site disposal systems.

A scientific method is used when all points of the system are located in excess of ten feet from any adjoining property line, no effluent enters an adjoining property, contaminates surface waters or groundwater, or otherwise creates a nuisance. When a permit to modify or build is needed or after a violation notice is issued, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services is the regulatory authority.

Before putting in any system, we recommend consulting a registered on-site wastewater treatment system installer. All state registered installers are recognized in Knox County according to state rules. For a list of registered installers, follow this link: DHSS  For general information, follow this link: DHSS For information regarding residential sewage lagoon systems, follow this link: MU Extension For information regarding septic tanks, follow this link: MU Extension

The EPHS does inspections and follows up on complaints regarding the air quality in schools, hospitals, licensed child care facilities, nursing homes, and more. For more information regarding indoor air quality, follow this link: DHSS and EPA

Mold and Moisture in Your Home

Mold is found both indoors and out in the air and on surfaces.  It can enter your home through open doorways, windows, vents, heating, and air conditioning systems, etc.  Mold grows in places with lots of moisture, such as leaky roofs, windows, pipes, or where there has been flooding.  Mold grows well on paper, cardboard, ceiling tiles, and wood products.  Mold can also grow in paints, wallpaper, insulation, drywall, carpet, fabric, and upholstery.

Depending on a person’s sensitivity level, mold can cause a variety of health complications or none at all.  For those who are sensitive, molds can cause nasal stuffiness, throat irritations, coughing or wheezing, eye and in some cases skin irritation.  It is possible to have more serious reactions if a person has a particular mold allergy.

Things you can do inside your home to control mold growth:

For more information on recognizing and cleaning up mold, follow this link: EPA


The second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S.  is radon. Radon is a colorless, tasteless, and odorless radioactive gas that exists naturally due to the breakdown of uranium in rocks and soil. It comes up through the soil and enters buildings through small gaps and cracks. As the soil continues to break down, it emits atomic particles that upon entering the lungs can alter DNA and increase lung cancer risk.  Radon can be tested and measured. There are estimated risks to health from the exposure depending on the concentration.

For testing instructions, visit the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (MO DHSS), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to learn more about the health hazards, and the American Lung Association to purchase test kits. For more information, follow this link: USDA

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs travel easily and are difficult to identify. They can move and spread in clothing, suitcases, furniture, or other belongings. Red itchy welts are often an indication of a bed bug infestation. Affected areas may include ankles, neckline, under the arms, or anywhere skin is exposed while sleeping. Wash bite areas with antiseptic soap to reduce the risk of any infection and contact your doctor for an appointment if the welts appear to worsen. For more information on bed bugs, follow these links: EPA and Top ten tips to prevent or control bed bugs.

The rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants. 

Duties of the Environmentalist

    1. On-Site Sewage– Includes request for information and complaints.
    2. Water Testing– Sampling and recommendations for private wells.  Does not include testing of public water supplies.
    3. Communicable Disease Investigation– Includes investigations of rabies, lead poisoning, food and water outbreaks, and water-borne outbreaks and cases.
    4. Emergency Response– Public Health issues dealing with fires, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, bioterrorism, accidents, embargoes, and food product recalls.
    5. Vector and Animal Control– These include public health issues dealing with insects, rodents, wild and domestic animals.
    6. Surveys Requests to assess environmental health conditions that may or are posing a potential or existing risk of health problems.


Various training programs are presented by the Environmentalist.  This includes talks, lectures, and training sessions concerning diseases and conditions and how to prevent their transmission through the environment of food, water, air, sewage, and shelter.

anchor linkFish Advisories

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services regularly publishes fish advisories. Fish are monitored in all bodies of water through the state and consumption recommendations are given. For more information on various health risks and the current fish advisory, follow this link:  DHSS MO Fish Advisory

The Knox County Health Department’s Environmental Specialist conducts routine and follow-up inspections year-round. If you have questions regarding food safety or inspections, please call 660.397.3396.

anchor linkRegulated Dining Facilities:



Temporary Food Stands

Grocery Stores


Convenience Stores




anchor linkEmergency Response

In the event of an accident or disaster, the Environmental Public Health Specialist is responsible for assessing the condition of any food, drugs, cosmetics, or medical devices. The EPHS will make decisions regarding public health safety and procedures. As a result of a transportation incident or other natural/manmade disaster, the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) and its representatives are permitted to embargo foods, drugs, cosmetics, or medical devices that are involved in suspected adulteration or misbranding. Response and evaluation will be conducted as soon as possible after accidents, train wrecks, fires, floods, back-up of sewage in a facility, extended interruption of power or water service, or when other natural/manmade disasters occur.

anchor linkLead

The Knox County Health Department can answer lead-related and educate residents on the environmental hazards of lead exposure. Lead is a poisonous metal that was at one time used regularly in paint, toys, ceramic, and more. If your home was built before 1978, it may contain lead paint on the walls, woodwork, windows, and doors. For more information regarding the hazards of lead paint exposure, follow this link: EPA

According to the EPA, children under the age of 6, pregnant women, and unborn babies face the highest risk of lead poisoning. Symptoms may include fatigue, weight loss, abdominal cramps, muscle weakness, headaches, and others. If you are concerned about lead exposure in your home or workplace, please call 660.397.3396 for more information or questions.


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