Boards of Health

Boards of Health are made up of people from every walk of life who care about the well being of their community. They are elected or appointed to a term of office and are given the legal authority to set policies and make regulations to protect the public and environmental health.

It’s a fact. In 1799, Paul Revere was Chairman of the Board of Health in Boston, the first local health board in Massachusetts. He and his fellow board members were given broad authority to control the “filth and offal” that contaminated the environment and produced deadly epidemics.

Today our health is threatened by an epidemic of chemical contamination, the inadequate disposal of wastes, and the emergence of new diseases.

More About Massachusetts Boards of Health

Today we know that human health is tied to the health of the environment. We ignore the threats to clean air and water at our peril. Your board of health or health department has unique and special authority to protect both the public and environmental health. Yet as elected or appointed members of town government, they need the support of their community.

Local Health Regulations
Did you know that many state and federal laws and regulations are written to provide a “basic minimum coverage” which often provides less protection than most citizens would want. For example, local health regulations are often necessary to prevent flooding and other draining problems from new development, or to prevent contamination of private and public water supplies. Many boards of health also adopt regulations to reduce the illegal sale of tobacco to minors, and to protect non-smokers from the dangers of environmental tobacco smoke.

Under Massachusetts General Laws, state and local regulations and community direction, Boards of Health are held responsible for disease prevention and control, and health and environmental protection and promoting a healthy community. Boards of Health serve as the local arm of both the Mass. Department of Public Health and the Mass. Department of Environmental Protection. To fulfill their duties, they develop, implement and enforce health policies, oversee inspections to maintain minimum standards for sanitation in housing and food service, and assure that the basic health needs of their community are being met.