Environmental Health Programs & Information

Newton Food Grading

*Curious about the Newton Food Grading System? Find out more here!

 Food Establishment Owners

*Food safety information for restaurant managers, owners and employees!

 Environmental Health Colleagues

*Need more information on the FDA Retail Program Standards? Find out more here!



Environmental Health Information:

Rats  in Newton [Report a Rodent Sighting]

Rats are and have been a part of the Massachusetts ecosystem since the area was originally settled in the early 17th century. They are a "cosmopolitan" species and are commonly found in most urban areas, including Newton and other neighboring communities, due to readily available food sources.

The Health and Human Services Department works with other City departments, residents, and business owners to promote better understandings of rat behavior and ow to minimize their presence and impact on the community. Our Environmental Health Specialists provide educational information to the public, businesses, and constructions sites to promote and ensure best practices in pest management and control. The Public Buildings Department pretreats for rodents on city projects and monitors for rodent presence throughout projects, taking appropriate pest control steps as needed. Discouraging rats from living in our city is most successful as a community effort.

More information about Rats in Newton

Rats in Newton brochure

Information on rats from the CDC


Click here for information on the Nonantum TCE Investigation & Remediation

Radon Information

Some Newton residents have questions and concerns regarding radon and potential impacts that nearby excavation work could potentially have on radon levels in their homes. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has a division dedicated to the topic of radon and welcomes questions from individual residents. Because each home and situation is unique, it is important for residents to reach out individually and receive accurate information for them specifically. This is true even for people in the same neighborhood. When requested, the State will also provide radon home testing kits free of charge along with specific instructions for utilization. You can find basic information on radon here https://www.mass.gov/radon  or call 1-800-723-6695 Monday--Friday 8:45 – 5:00.

Cyanobacteria Algae Bloom - MWRA Advisory (May 7, 2018)

MWRA has issued an advisory at the Chestnut Hill Reservoir in Boston due to a harmful cyanobacteria algae bloom. As you may recall, a bloom occurred at the waterbody last summer. MWRA has posted signs at the waterbody advising people to keep themselves and their pets from contacting the water. For more information on algae blooms, visit the DPH website.


Different kinds of mold can be found in and around your home. There are certain molds that you should be aware of as they can cause health problems if they are left untreated. Click here to learn about mold and its potential health effects. 


Asbestos exposure can cause serious health problems. Click here to learn more about asbestos, who to call to properly remove it from your  business or home, and other important asbestos information.

Demolition: Answers to Common Asbestos Questions (Mass DEP)

Lead Paint

Lead paint was used as interior and exterior paint in homes built prior to 1978. Over time, like any paint, lead paint can chip off and become incorporated into the soil around your home. It can become a health hazard if children play around the outdoor areas of your home. Click here to learn more information, and what you can do about lead paint around your home.

Oil Heat

Important Information for Homeowners with Oil Heat from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection 

Flooding Advisory

The Newton Health and Human Services Department would like to advise residents on cleanup and disinfection procedures in areas that have been affected by flood waters. This advisory is being issued to alert residents to health precautions they should take in the event of flooding, especially if the flood waters may have been contaminated by sewage. There are six basic areas of concern:

  1. Contamination of basements, buildings, and surrounding yards by flooded sewer systems.
  2. Children playing in muddy yards or areas which have potentially been contaminated with sewage.
  3. Spoilage of food due to immersion or by loss of electricity.
  4. Contamination of swimming pools.
  5. Deterioration of asbestos pipe coverings in flooded basements.
  6. Possible rodent and insect infestation.

Cellars and Basements

Flooded basements should be pumped out and disinfected. After as much liquid as possible has been pumped out, any remaining solid waste should be disposed of in plastic bags in an approved landfill. Mud should be removed when moist so that basement floors will dry more quickly.

All flooded floor and wall surfaces should be washed with a solution of two (2) capfuls of household bleach to one (1) gallon of water. Any household articles affected by flood waters should be washed with the same solution. Carpeting, mattresses, and upholstered furniture should be disposed of or cleaned and disinfected by a professional cleaner. Disposal is recommended in any cases where sewage contamination is suspected.

A dehumidifier and fan should be used to eliminate the growth of mold and mildew once the cellar has been cleaned and disinfected.

Water Supply

Until the results are received from testing public or private water supplies, residents should either boil their water for approximately 20 minutes or drink bottled water.


Yards should be disinfected with a liberal application of lime if any evidence of sewage contamination exists. Keep all children and animals away from limed areas until lime is no longer visible.

Do not allow children to play in standing water or with mud in yards until the area has been thoroughly disinfected with lime.

Food Spoilage - Immersion in Water

Immersed food products should not be consumed. Canned foods that have not been immersed in water should be washed thoroughly with water and a mild disinfecting solution and then rinsed thoroughly with clean water prior to opening. Any bulging or dented cans should be discarded.

Food Spoilage - Loss of Electricity

Perishable food items should be cooked for immediate consumption or thrown away. Generally, foods stored in large freezers should be safe from spoilage for about 48 hours if the freezer remains closed.

Residents should avoid opening freezer or refrigerator doors to the extent possible until the electricity has been restored.

As long as temperatures in refrigerators remain below 45 degrees, stored foods should not spoil. Caution is advised during warm weather, as food will spoil more quickly above this temperature. The purchase of a thermometer for placement in refrigerators is recommended.

Contamination of Swimming Pools

Swimming pools should not be used until the water is free of any debris and the water is clear. Keep the filters running until the water is clear and then superchlorinate (shock treat) the pool. The chlorine level should drop to between 1.0-3.0 ppm before re-entry.

Deterioration of Asbestos Pipe Coverings

If asbestos-covered heating system and piping have been damaged and require removal, a certified asbestos removal contractor must perform this work. The Health Department and Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (617-935-2160) must be notified in advance of asbestos activity.

Rodent & Insect Infestation

Discard debris such as garbage (in a closed container), lumber, tree limbs, broken furniture, and trash as soon as possible to prevent insect and rodent infestation.

If rodent and insect infestation persist, contact a certified pesticide control company.

Report a Rodent Sighting
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