One of the most important public health concerns is “Environmental Public Health.” Environmental Health strives to prevent illness, injury and death related to environmental causes. Howell County Health Department provides environmental public health services in Howell County, governed by state laws and regulations. In addition, environmental public health services are provided to the city of West Plains and complies with city ordinances.


Food sanitation & protection and inspection (Restaurant/Food Establishments); Sewage Treatment Complaint/Inspection; Solid Waste Disposal; Daycare Licensing Inspection; Lodging Sanitation; Community Environmental Sanitation; Water Supply Evaluation;  Consumer Product Safety; Fire Safety (Lodging); Risk Assessment; Recreational Waters; Building Related Illnesses; and Epidemiological Investigation.


For information on the most current recalls, please click on the following links:

Helpful Information and Brochures:

Email Environmental Health Specialist Justin Frazier


Bed Bugs:  Bed bugs are parasitic insects that are small, flat and feed solely on the blood of people and animals while they sleep.  They are reddish brown in color, wingless, are roughly the size of Lincoln’s head on a penny, and can live several months without a blood meal.Beds bugs are found all over the world even in the cleanest of places.  Bed bugs are not known to spread diseases or pose a serious medical threat.

It’s hard to tell if you have been bitten by a bed bug unless you find signs of infestation.  Signs include bed bugs in the fold of mattresses and sheets, rusty colored blood spots due to their blood-filled fecal material they excrete on the mattress or nearby furniture and a sweet musty odor.  For more information on bed bugs go to

Food Handlers Classes:  Food handler’s classes are required for anyone working in food service in the city of West Plains.  Classes are scheduled on the second and fourth Monday’s every month (excluding Holiday’s) from 4-5 pm.  Cost is $3.00 for your food handler’s permit which is valid for 2 years from class date.

Participants must call to be put on the class roster at 417-256-7078.

Inspections  Howell County Health Department does routine inspections for the following establishments:

  • Restaurants
  • Convenience Stores
  • Grocery Stores
  • Mobile Food Units
  • Festivals/Fairs
  • Motels/ Hotels
  • Licensed Child Care Facilities

Mold:  Moldy environments can cause a variety of health effects or none at all.   Some people are more sensitive to mold than others.  Symptoms can include:  nasal stuffiness, throat irritation, coughing or wheezing, eye irritation or in some cases skin irritation.   People with asthma can have asthma symptoms caused by moldy environments.

Mold likes to grow in the presence of moisture.  Leakey roofs, windows or pipes or places that have flooded are likely places for mold to grow and be found.  Mold grows well on paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles, and wood products.  Mold can grow in dust, paints, wallpaper, insulation, drywall, carpet, fabric, and upholstery.Inside your home you can control mold growth by: controlling humidity levels, promptly fixing leaky roofs, windows and pipes, thoroughly cleaning and drying after flooding, and ventilating shower, laundry and cooking areas.

For more information on mold and how to clean up mold go to

Rabies:  Rabies is a viral infection that affects the nervous system of mammals.  It invariably causes swelling of the brain and death after a relatively short illness.  The rabies virus is found in the nervous tissue of infected animals and as the virus works its way to the brain it begins to be secreted in the saliva of the animal.  People and animals get rabies when infectious saliva is introduced into the body, usually through a bite from an infected animal.

A person or animal may start to show symptoms on an average of 30 to 50 days after exposure to a rabid animal.  Individuals can have symptoms that include fever, sore throat, stiff muscles, headache, tiredness, restlessness, nausea, and itching or tingling at the site of the bite.  Animals may have a personality change, for example wild animals can lose their fear of humans.  Pets may become aggressive or withdraw.  Often the animal will not want to eat, may fear water and have an unsteady gait.  Paralysis may start in the rear quarters and progress to the front of the body.

If you or your pet is bitten by an animal wild or domestic, please contact the Howell County health department to see about quarantining the animal if possible or submitting the head of the animal for testing to the state public health lab.

If the animal such as a dog or cat is able to be caught and quarantined for a period of ten days for observance then it does not need to be euthanized for rabies testing.  If it is required that the animal be sent in for rabies testing the animal will need to be euthanized and have the head removed to be sent to the state public health lab.

Please contact the health department for policies and procedures to have an animal sent to the state lab for rabies testing.

Radon: Radon (Rn) is a gaseous radioactive element that occurs from the natural breakdown of uranium in the soil and rocks. It is colorless, odorless, and tasteless. Radon becomes a risk indoors because as it continues to break down, it emits atomic particles that upon entering the lungs can alter the DNA and increase lung cancer risk. In fact, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the nation and is classified as a “Class A” carcinogen according to EPA.

Radon can be tested and measured (in picocuries per liter (pCi/L) of air) and there are estimated risks to health from the exposure depending on the concentration. DHSS in conjunction with EPA recommends that if the concentration of radon is 4 pCi/L or greater, then remediation should be done to lower risks.

You can get more information and a free radon test kit from the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services by clicking on the following link:

Septic Systems & Permitting: Single family residence property of 3 or more acres does not require a permit for the installation of a septic system, they do require by state law that a registered septic installer put in the system unless the home owner installs the entire system.

Septic systems on less than 3 acres for a single family residence, all businesses and major repairs / modifications to a system will require a permit.  Permit applications are at the health department office and the $90 permit fee must be paid before the system can be started.  A soil test must be performed by a state approved soil evaluator and the septic system must be installed by a registered septic installer for the state of Missouri.

Go to for a list of registered installers and soil evaluators in Missouri and more information about on-site wastewater systems and / or how to become a registered installer in Missouri.

Water Testing Private well water can be tested for bacteria which checks for e-coli and coliform.  Testing can be done unofficial and official:

  1. Unofficial: Come to the Howell County Health Department and pick up a water sample test kit and follow the directions included to draw your own water sample.  Samples must be drawn and submitted on the same day and brought to the health department before 12:00 pm so they may be sent to the state public health laboratory.  The results along with a $10 invoice will be sent directly to the person submitting the sample from the state public health lab in Jefferson City.
  2. Official: Call or come to the health department to schedule an appointment to have an environmental health specialist come out and collect the water sample.  Cost will be $20 and will be due before the results will be sent to the individual who requested the test.

Water tests can also be requested to test for chemistry analysis (minerals and metals) in private well water supplies.  This test must be collected by an environmental specialist.  Please call or come by to schedule an appointment for a water test.  The fee for the chemistry analysis and bacteria water tests is $30.



Hand washing Facilities 

  • Installed in each food preparation area
  • In or immediately adjacent to all restrooms
  • Equipped with hot and cold running water, mixing faucets, soap, sanitary towels
  • Adequate in size and number
  • Located to permit convenient use by all employees

Equipment and Utensils 

  • Designed to be smooth, easily cleanable, durable
  • In good repair
  • Food contact surfaces – easily accessible for cleaning, nontoxic, corrosion resistant, and nonabsorbent
  • Installed in a manner that makes it, and adjacent areas, easily cleanable

Equipment on Tables / Counters 

  • Sealed or mounted on legs (4 inches high), unless readily movable

Floor-Mounted Equipment 

  • Installed at least 6 inches off of floor or otherwise sealed, unless readily movable
  • Space between adjoining pieces of equipment must be sealed, unless sufficient space is provided to facilitate easy cleaning between, behind and beside all such equipment

Floor & Wall Junctures 

  • Must be coved
  • Vinyl base may meet this requirement if properly installed
  • The bottom and top of the base shall be tightly sealed to the floor and wall – caulk sealant is recommended for this application

Indirect Connections of Drain Lines From Equipment

  • Required for equipment such as prep-sinks, ice machine, ice bins, refrigerator, steam kettles, potato peelers, and similar types of enclosed equipment
  • Waste pipe shall discharge into an open, accessible, individual waste sink, or floor drain that is properly trapped and vented
  • If allowed by law, a dishwashing machine may have a direct connection between its waste outlet and a floor drain when the machine is located within five feet of a trapped floor drain and the machine outlet is connected to the inlet side of a properly vented floor drain trap

Walk-In Refrigerator 

  • Shall have a floor drain that is installed as to preclude the back flow of sewage into the refrigerator, OR
  • All parts of the floor shall be graded to drain to the outside through a wastepaper or doorway

Drain Lines From Equipment

  • Shall not discharge wastewater in such a manner as will permit the flooding of floors or the flowing of water across working or walking areas, or into difficult to clean areas

Frozen Desserts-Storage of Dispensing Scoops and Dippers

  • In approved running-water dipper well, OR
  • In a manner approved by the health authority


  • Constructed of smooth, durable, nonabsorbent, and easily cleanable materials (ex: concrete, terrazzo, ceramic tile, durable grades of linoleum or plastic)
  • Areas subject to spilling or dripping of grease or fatty substances shall be constructed of grease-resistant material
  • Floors of non-refrigerated, dry food storage areas need not be nonabsorbent

Floor Drains

  • Provided in all rooms where floors are subjected to flood-type cleaning or where normal operations release or discharge water or other liquid waste on the floor

Exterior Areas Where Food is Served

  • Shall be properly drained
  • Surfaces shall be finished so as to facilitate maintenance and minimize dust

Walls and Ceilings

  • Easily cleanable
  • Smooth and light colored
  • Have washable surfaces
  • Fissured, pin holed, or other deeply textured ceilings are not considered to be easily cleanable
  • Studs, joists, and rafters shall not be left exposed in food preparation areas, dishwashing areas, or toilet rooms
  • If exposed in other rooms, studs, joists, and rafters shall be suitable finished and kept clean and in good repair

Wall Cover Materials

  • Shall be attached and sealed to the wall or ceiling as to leave no open spaces or cracks that permit accumulations of grease or debris, or provide harborage for vermin

Toilet Facilities

  • Adequate and conveniently located
  • Completely enclosed with tight-fitting, self-closing doors
  • Easily cleaning receptacles for waste materials
  • Covered waste receptacle in toilet rooms used by women

Building Penetrations (through walls, floors, ceilings, etc.)

  • Shall be effectively protected against the entrance of flies, other insects, rodents, and other vermin

Openings to Outer Air

  • Protected by self-closing doors, closed windows, or screening

Refrigerator Thermometers

  • Each refrigerator shall be provided with a thermometer accurate to ±2 degrees Fahrenheit
  • The thermometer shall be located in the warmest part of the refrigerator and situated so that it can be easily and readily observed for reading

Ice Storage Containers

  • Shall be of a smooth, impervious material, and designed to facilitate cleaning
  • Ice bins and ice makers shall be equipped with suitable covers to protect the ice against contamination
  • The hoses for bulk soft drink and water dispensing apparatus shall not pass through the ice which is to be consumed

Single Service Articles

  • Stored in and dispensed from closed cartons or containers which protect them from contamination

Dishwashing Machine Thermometer

  • Dishwashing machine shall be equipped with thermometers to constantly indicate the temperature of the wash and final rinse

Dishwashing Machine

  • A gauge cock shall be provided on the dishwashing machine just upstream from the point at which the final rinse enters the machine unless otherwise exempted
  • Adequate quantities of hot water at sufficient pressures shall be provided to operate the dish machine within the manufacturers specifications
  • The wash temperature shall be at least 140°F, and in single tank conveyor machines shall be at least 160°F
  • When hot water is relied upon for sanitization, the final or fresh rinse water shall be at a temperature of at least 180°F at the entrance of the manifold
  • When a pumped rinse is provided, the water shall be at a temperature of at least 170°F
  • When chemicals are relied upon for sanitization, they shall be of a class or type approved by the health authority, and shall be applied in such concentration and for such a period of time as to provide effective bactericidal treatment of the equipment and utensils
  • Dishwashing machines shall be of such materials and so designed and constructed as to be easily cleanable, and shall be capable, when operated properly, of rendering all surfaces of equipment and utensils clean to sight and touch, and sanitized

Three-Compartment Sink

  • Shall be provided and used wherever washing and sanitization of equipment or utensils are conducted manually
  • Sinks used for manual washing and sanitizing operations shall be of adequate length, width, and depth to permit the complete immersion of the equipment and utensils, and each compartment of such sinks shall be supplied with hot and cold running water
  • Dish baskets shall be of such design as to permit complete immersion of the utensils and equipment components being sanitized

Dish Tables and Drain Boards

  • Shall be of adequate size for proper handling of soiled utensils prior to washing and for cleaned utensils following rinsing or sanitization
  • Shall be located or constructed as not to interfere with the proper use of the dishwashing facilities

Sinks, Dish Tables, and Drain Boards

  • Shall be so constructed of galvanized metal or better, suitably reinforced, of such thickness and design as to resist denting and buckling, and sloped so as to be self-draining


  • At least 20 foot-candles of light shall be required on all working surfaces
  • At least 10 foot-candles of light shall be required on all other surfaces and equipment, in food preparation, utensil washing and hand washing areas, and toilet rooms
  • At least 5 foot-candles of light at a distance of 30 inches from the floor shall be required in all other areas
  • All light bulbs over food preparation areas must be shielded or shatterproof

Storage of Employees Belongings

  • Adequate facilities shall be provided for the orderly storage of employees’ clothing and personal belongings
  • Where employees routinely change clothes within the establishment, one or more dressing rooms or designated areas shall be provided for this purpose
  • Such designated areas shall be located outside of the food preparation, storage, and serving areas, and the utensil washing and storage areas
  • Such an area may be located in a storage room where only completely packaged food is stored
  • Designated areas shall be equipped with adequate lockers or other suitable facilities

All Construction not Specifically Mentioned Above

  • Shall be such as to provide convenient cleaning and sanitary conditions
  • All construction shall be performed in compliance with local, state and federal regulations

For more in depth information please go to the Missouri Food Code