How am I exposed to molds and what are the health effects?
We are exposed to mold by breathing mold spores from the air. When an area of mold is disturbed, levels of spores in the air may increase up to 10,000 times. It is important to wear protective equipment for cleanup. Eating mold-contaminated material may also expose us.
There may be toxic effects or allergy. Molds sometimes produce toxins.
Health effects from toxic exposure may include:
Respiratory or eye irritation.
Allergic reaction to mold may include:
Eye, nose, and sinus irritation.
A skin rash.
Problems with asthma.
Allergies may be to a specific mold species and you may not react to all mold species. Persons most at risk include young children, elderly, those with compromised immune systems and people with respiratory conditions such as asthma or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.
How can I control or prevent molds from growing in my home?
Stop all water leaks first. Repair leaky roofs and plumbing right away. Move water away from basement walls and concrete slabs.
Increase air movement within your home. If needed, use ceiling or standing fans to circulate air throughout your home. Pay special attention to outside walls.
Provide warm air to all rooms of your home. Leave closet doors slightly open. Move furniture and large objects away from outside walls. Leave a few inches for air to move between the wall and belongings. 'Flush' the air in your home at least once or twice a day. Do this by opening all windows and turning on all exhaust fans for five minutes. Close windows and reheat home to 70 degrees.
Make sure you have working exhaust fans in bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms. Run fans while bathing, cooking or doing laundry and for at least 30 minutes afterwards.
If your living area is constantly humid even with proper ventilation and temperature control, you may want to consider the use of a dehumidifier. Dehumidifiers can be helpful to control moisture in basements or daylight basements.
Ventilate and insulate attic and crawl spaces. Cover dirt in the crawl space with heavy plastic.
Clean and dry water damaged carpets, clothing, bedding and fabric furniture within 24 to 48 hours. Otherwise consider throwing it away and replacing with new. Vacuum (with a HEPA vacuum if possible) and clean your home regularly.
How do I clean up mold in my home?
If you see or smell mold, it's time to clean up.
Try to determine how much of an area has a mold problem. For a larger area (greater than 10 feet square) you need to pay attention to personal protection. Use goggles, gloves and breathing protection, such as an N95 dust mask.
Isolate the work area as much as possible. Cover heat vents. Close the door or hang plastic across open doorways and seal with tape. Open a window or use an exhaust fan.
Cover all furniture in the area. Sheets or paint drop clothes can be used. For a large area of mold, move all belongings to another place before clean up. Sort articles for later clean up. See below for cleaning household articles.
Remove severely mold-damaged materials by putting them in bags and throwing away.
Scrub the area with a mix of dishwashing liquid and water or liquid laundry detergent (no bleach) and water. Use just enough detergent to make the water a little sudsy. It is important to physically remove all molds!
Thoroughly dry the area. It is not necessary to use bleach. Bleach can be harmful to your health. Be sure that you scrub away mold with detergent first. If you do use bleach, a mix of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water is enough, or about 1 cup bleach to a gallon of water. Wipe this lightly over the previously moldy area, let sit for 20 minutes, then wipe dry.
Give the entire area a good cleaning. Vacuum floors and wash bedding and clothes if needed. Consider hiring a professional if the area is larger than 10 square feet, or roughly the size of a full sheet of newspaper.
Belongings should be sorted into three categories:
Permeable and washable: Clothing, bedding and other washable items should be run through the laundry.
Non-permeable and washable: wood, metal, plastic, glass and ceramics. First try scrubbing clean with a liquid soap. If that does not work, use one cap of bleach to one quart of water. Spot test to check for spotting from the bleach. Wipe down items, let sit for 20 minutes and then dry.
Permeable but not washable: Beds and furniture fit into this category. If items such as mattresses or couches are moldy, you should consider disposal and replacement. If not take them outside; give them a good vacuuming and let them air out. If you do not see or smell mold on the items after this, they should be okay.
Watch for any new mold growth or health effects. Carpeting and upholstered furniture, if not too badly damaged by mold, can sometimes be cleaned by a professional using hot-water extraction or steam-cleaning. Rental rug-shampooing units are usually ineffective for proper removal of mold and in some cases may cause more mold to grow.
How do I know if I have a mold problem?
If you see or smell mold, or a musty odor, you have a mold problem. You should clean up the mold as soon as possible. Testing for molds is not usually needed unless you need documentation for medical or legal reasons. Even dry or dead mold spores may cause health problems.
How do molds grow in my home?
Molds grow in our homes because of too much water. Leaky plumbing or a hole in the roof can let water into your home to help mold grow. Humid air from cooking, breathing or showering can also lead to mold growth unless you let the damp air out and fresh air into your home. Common materials we have in our homes like paper, drywall, leather, and carpeting provide food for mold growth if they get wet. Controlling moisture is the most important thing to remember when dealing with mold.
What are molds?
Molds are a type of fungus. Other types of fungus include mildews and mushrooms. Molds occur widely in nature and outdoors. There is no practical way to get rid of all mold spores indoors.
Where can I find molds in my home?
You might find mold in water damaged areas, on the inside of cold exterior walls, behind dressers, headboards and in closets where things are stored against a cold outer wall. Other areas where mold often grows are kitchens, bathrooms, laundry or utility rooms, and basements. Carpets and other water-damaged materials will easily support mold growth. Mold may also grow undetected inside wall spaces, under carpet, and inside heating ducts.
Are there other flu vaccine products available?
The intradermal flu vaccine is a shot that is injected into the skin instead of the muscle. The intradermal shot uses a much smaller needle than the regular flu shot. It is recommended for adults 18-64 years of age. It usually causes more skin irritation than the regular flu shot, but there is no deep muscle soreness as there sometimes is with the regular flu shot.
Are there side effects to the flu vaccine?
Most people do not have any side effects. If they do happen, they are usually mild. The most common side effects are soreness, redness, tenderness or swelling where the shot is given. The flu vaccine cannot give you the flu.
Do children need more than one dose of flu vaccine per year?
In general, children under age 9 need two doses of flu vaccine the first year they start getting the vaccinations. If I child age 6 months to 9 years has not had two flu vaccines total in their lifetime, they should receive two doses this season. The two doses should be given at least 4 weeks apart.
Does the flu vaccine cause Guillain-Barre syndrome?
In 1976, a type of influenza (swine flu) vaccine was associated with Guillain-Barr' Syndrome (GBS). Since then, flu vaccines have not been clearly linked to GBS. GBS is a rare problem in which a person's own immune system damages the nerves, causing muscle weakness and sometimes paralysis. If there is a risk of GBS from current flu vaccines, it would be no more than one or two cases per million people vaccinated. This is much lower than the risk of complications and death from influenza. Influenza can also cause GBS. It is not fully known what causes GBS. About two-thirds of people who get GBS do so after they have been sick with diarrhea or a lung or sinus illness.
How effective is the flu vaccine?
The effectiveness of the flu vaccine depends on the match between the flu vaccine and the types of flu viruses that are circulating. If there is a good match, the flu vaccine is usually over 60% effective in healthy adults. Flu vaccine is generally somewhat less effective in elderly persons and very young children, but vaccination can still prevent serious complications. The flu vaccine is more effective in healthy people, and it is important for healthy people to receive the flu shot to protect people close to them who may not be healthy.
If I got a flu vaccination last year, do I need one again this year?
Yes. Each year, vaccines companies make a new vaccine from flu viruses that we expect to be present during the season.
Is the flu vaccination safe?
Yes, the flu vaccination is very safe. CDC and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hold vaccines to the highest safety standards. Flu vaccines have been given to hundreds of millions of people and have been made the same way for decades. As with all vaccines, flu vaccine testing and safety monitoring are done in multiple phases. For vaccines to be approved, the manufacturing facilities and processes must meet standards to make sure that the vaccines are pure and effective. After vaccines are approved, each batch is tested before it is released to check purity and strength. Several systems are in place to watch for possible side effects after vaccines are given.
Is there a special type of flu vaccine available for seniors?
Yes. There are two products approved for people age 65 years or older, Fluzone High-Dose and FLUADTM. Both were made to be more effective for seniors. The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) does not recommend any particular flu vaccine. People over age 65 should get a flu shot with any of the currently licensed flu vaccines for adults.
Is there mercury in the flu vaccine?
Vaccines packaged in multidose vials contain thimerosal, a preservative that protects vaccines against contamination. Thimerosal contains a small amount ethyl mercury. Other than minor reactions like redness and swelling at the injection site, there is no evidence of harm caused by the small amount of thimerosal in vaccines. Vaccines packaged in single-dose vials and pre-filled syringes are thimerosal-free. They are usually given to children under age 3 and pregnant women. Most of the flu vaccines licensed by the FDA for use in the United States do not contain thimerosal.
What about an egg allergy and the flu vaccine?
Most flu vaccines are made using eggs. If you can eat scrambled eggs without a reaction, you can get a flu shot. If you get hives after eating eggs, you can get a flu shot if the vaccine is given in a medical setting. This way you can get immediate treatment for a severe allergic reaction if you have one. You should be observed for at least 30 minutes to make sure you will not have a serious allergic reaction. Another type of vaccine using recombinant technology instead of eggs is also available' (RIV3, tradename Flublok) and can be used for people age 18-49.
When should I get a flu vaccination?
For the best protection, get vaccinated as soon as the vaccine is available. But you can get it any time during the flu season. In the Pacific Northwest, flu activity is usually at the highest level in January or February, and can go longer.
Who should get the flu vaccination?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone over age 6 months get a flu vaccine. Babies under age 6 months are too young to get the flu vaccine, and people who have had a serious severe allergic reaction to flu vaccine in the past should not get one. People who have had severe egg allergy or a very rare nervous system condition called Guillian-Barre syndrome should talk to their doctor before they get a flu shot.
Why isn't the nasal spray flu vaccine recommended this season?
Effectiveness of all flu vaccines is studied each flu season. Over the last few years, nasal spray has been less effective than flu shots. The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) reviews flu vaccine effectiveness data every year. Because of its lower effectiveness, the ACIP does not recommend nasal spray flu vaccine for the 2018-2019 flu season.
How do I arrange for a reasonable accommodation in the employment application or testing process?
Contact the Office of Human Resources/Risk Management at email@example.com or (253) 798-6486.
How do I check the status of my employment application?
You will receive an email when selected positions become available.
I have submitted my employment application. What happens next?
A recruiter reviews applications and administers tests (if applicable). The hiring manager evaluates the most qualified applicants and schedules interviews. You will receive an email notifying you of your status.
Thinking about an internship for credit at the health department? '
An internship provides a learning experience relevant to your academic field of study. Learn how to work in a team environment, interact with diverse groups of people and cultures. You will work with staff and the community while you gain experience in your academic field of study.
What happens if I'm selected for the job?
You will receive a contingent job offer based on completion of an acceptable background check, verification of immunizations, and I-9 E-Verify.
What if I can't access my online employment application?
Contact GovernmentJobs.com at (855) 524-5627.
If they are not able to assist you, please call us at (253) 798-6486 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
Where can I volunteer to work at the health department?
You may choose an assignment in one of our four divisions:
Communicable Disease Control.
Who can volunteer to work at the health department?
Volunteers must be at least 14 years of age or older.
Why volunteer in public health?
Our volunteers help us fulfill our mission; to protect and improve the health of all people and places in Pierce County. We appreciate your desire to share your time and skills with us. If you decide that you are ready to make the commitment and have a desire to be part of our team, read about the process for applying on this page. Connect with your community when you serve as a volunteer! When you offer your skills and enthusiasm, you affect the lives of others, as well as your own. You can learn about diverse communities when you become a part of them.
How can you prevent mumps?
Get two doses of mumps vaccine (included in the MMR vaccine).
Stay away from anyone who has mumps.
Wash your hands often with soap and water.
Don’t share cups, spoons, forks, baby bottles and other utensils.
How is mumps spread?
Mumps spreads by coughing, sneezing, or spraying saliva while talking. It also spreads by sharing cups, spoons, forks, baby bottles and other utensils. Mumps can spread if someone who has mumps goes to a place where many people are gathered.
What if I've had mumps before?
If you've had mumps before, you are generally considered immune and do not need the vaccine. People born before 1957 are also often considered immune.
Mumps is a disease caused by a virus. It typically starts with:
Loss of appetite.
Many people develop swollen and tender cheeks or jaw. Most people with mumps get well in a few weeks. Some people with mumps may have a mild illness or may not even know they have the disease.
However, mumps can occasionally cause serious health problems, especially in adults. These health problems can include:
Swelling of the testicles.
Swelling of the brain or spinal cord.
Inflammation of the ovaries.
What to do if you think you have mumps
Call your doctor if you or your child has the signs of mumps. They include fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, loss of appetite and swollen cheeks or jaw.
Stay home and away from other people until you can see a doctor. Don't go to work or school. Stay away from family as much as possible so they don’t get sick. People with mumps can spread the disease for five or more days after getting swollen cheeks or jaw.
Who is more likely to get mumps?
Babies younger than 1 year old.
Children over 1 year of age who have not received at least 1 dose of mumps vaccine (MMR vaccine).
Adults born in or after 1957 who have not been vaccinated or have not had mumps before.
Office of Assessment, Planning and Improvement
Where do I find Pierce County population data?
Pierce County Population Profile (2014)—Includes U.S. Census and American Community Survey data. The description of the population can be used to understand current health problems and to predict future population health needs.
Unattended Mental Health's Impact on Society (2016): Communities prosper when the mental health needs of community members are met. Unaddressed mental health problems can have a negative influence on homelessness, poverty, employment, safety, and the local economy.
Where do I find Community Health Assessments in Pierce County?
Community Health Needs Assessments: MultiCare Health System — These reports identify the most pressing health needs in MultiCare hospital service areas, and how the health system will work with our communities to address those needs. This process included assessing key health indicators from several data sources and information provided by community members and leaders.
Community Health Needs Assessments: CHI Franciscan Health — These reports identify the most pressing health needs in CHI Franciscan hospital service areas, and how the health system will work with our communities to address those needs. This process included assessing key health indicators from several data sources and information provided by community members and leaders.
Pierce County Community Health Assessment — The Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) includes specific action steps'by organizations from across the county'employing their resources, specific mission and particular focus to address the health needs of the county. Non-profit organizations, public agencies, businesses and other entities will be able to use the plan to focus their attention and resources on the most critical community health issues in our county. The Pierce County CHIP priorities emerged after conducting a comprehensive Community Health Assessment for the county.
County Health Rankings — How healthy is Pierce County? The annual rankings provide a revealing snapshot of how health is influenced by where we live, learn, work and play. Rankings are'compiled using'county-level measures from a variety of national and state data sources. Pierce County is compared to other counties within the Washington state.
Where do I find gaps in preventive screenings data?
Gaps in Screening Mammography (2015)—The purpose of this needs assessment is to help answer the question: How can Carol Milgard Breast Center (CMBC) best provide mammography services to underserved and at-risk populations in Pierce County, considering limited outreach capacity?
Where do I find Health Indicators in Pierce County data?
Pierce County Health Indicators — Indicators provide a snapshot of population health status using data from existing systems. Tracked over time (trends) they can tell us something about the patterns of illness or health conditions and behaviors of a population.
County Health Rankings — How healthy is Pierce County? The annual rankings provide a revealing snapshot of how health is influenced by where we live, learn, work and play. Rankings are'compiled using'county-level measures from a variety of national and state data sources. Pierce County is compared to other counties within the Washington state.
Community Health Status Indicators — Community Health Status Indicators (CHSI) is an interactive web application that produces health profiles for all 3,143 counties in the United States, including Pierce County. Each profile includes key indicators of health outcomes.
Local Public Health Indicators — The local public health indicators site is designed to present local data for each of Washington's local public health jurisdictions, including Pierce County, and to compare local data with state and national averages.
Where do I find Health Systems Transformation in Pierce County data?
Infant Mortality in Pierce County (2015) — Infant mortality refers to the death of an infant before his/her first birthday. The infant mortality rate is an estimate of the number of infant deaths for every 1,000 live births.
Black Infant Health in Pierce County (2016)—Washington Department of Health, Maternal and Child Data Reports A resource primarily for public health professionals on the health status of pregnant women, infants, children and adolescents in Washington State.
Pierce County Community Health Assessment—The Community Health Assessment (CHA) includes data from health indicators and information from community residents and partners to identify the most critical community health issues in our county. The report includes a chapter on maternal and child health data.
Where do I find public health data maps? (71 Maps)
where do I find the Healthy Youth Survey? (290 Healthy Youth Survey)
The HYS collects self-reported data every two years from students in grades 6, 8, 10 and 12 through in-class surveys.
Do all existing septic systems within the Boundary Line Adjustment (BLA) need to be inspected?
If no septic records and potential impacts to septic system exist, a full inspection is required by a certified O&M professional for each OSS on the properties affected by the BLA to verify location, proper function and there will be no adverse impact to the OSS. If accurate septic records and no potential impacts to septic system exist, no O&M inspection is required if septic system is in compliance with monitoring requirements.
Does an exisitng septic system need to be inspected during a Boundary Line Adjustment (BLA) if that septic system will no longer be used?
Proper decommissioning of any existing septic tanks is required.
Does the septic company submit the Report of System Status (RSS) application?
Some septic companies will submit the RSS application on your behalf. Clarify with the septic company if they will submit the RSS application or if they will only upload their inspection report. Septic companies are required to upload their inspection report to www.onlineRME.com; this is separate from an application for Report of System Status. If the septic company does submit the RSS application on your behalf, make sure they add you as a partner in order to get a copy of the completed RSS.
Does the septic tank have to be pumped prior to the property sale?
Yes, it is a requirement that all tanks are pumped at the time of inspection by a certified septic company.
How can I get a copy of the completed Report of System Status (RSS) report?
Completed RSS reports submitted online will be issued to the applicant and any eNotifications that have been added online. Inquiries for copies of the completed RSS report from others, not added as eNotifications, will be directed back to the applicant. Completed RSS reports submitted over the counter or through the mail will be faxed the same day the report is completed and a hard copy will be mailed within 2-3 business days after being completed.
How can I submit a Report of System Status (RSS) application?
You can submit a RSS application and make payment with a Visa or MasterCard online by creating an account at https://forms.tpchd.org/o_and_m/. The RSS can also be submitted at our office located at 3629 S. D St., Tacoma, WA 98418.
How does Pierce County's new policy regarding building and subdivision applications using permit-exempt wells as a potable water source apply to land division proposals?
The new PALS policy applies unless you have already received written approval from the Health Department to drill your well.
How long is a Report of System Status (RSS) report valid?
The RSS report is valid for 12 months.
How long is a septic system inspection valid?
The inspection report is valid for 6 months.
How many inspections are required in the Report of System Status (RSS) process?
There can be multiple inspections during the Report of system Status (RSS) process. At a minimum the health department inspects the drainfield, reserve areas and makes sure records and system types are accurate. After the health department inspection the certified septic company inspects the septic system for mechanical operations, defects and proper function. If a property has multple septic systems or other complicating factors, additional inspections may be required.
If I submitted a well application prior to Nov. 1, 2016, does Pierce County's new policy regarding building and subdivision applications using permit-exempt wells as a potable water source affect me?
The County's new policy does not apply to permit exempt well applications that were received prior to Nov. 1, 2016. The Health Department will review well applications received prior to Nov. 1, 2016 on a first come, first serve basis and will not require a determination of water availability from PALS.
Is there any way to rush the Report of System Status (RSS) process?
No, we are unable to expedite applications. We ask for ten business days to complete a RSS application. While it is possible for the application to be completed prior to ten business days, it cannot be expedited or guaranteed.
What are the Boundary Line Adjustment (BLA) requirements when a septic system encroaches on a neighboring lot?
A recorded easement for the OSS is required.
What changed with water rights and when did it change?
Effective Nov. 1, 2016, Pierce County Planning and Land Service (PALS) established a new county-wide policy for building permit and subdivision applications that propose using permit-exempt wells as a potable water source. Under the new policy, PALS must determine whether there is sufficient water available to support the building or subdivision proposal based on the findings of a required Hydrogeologic Study. PALS requires the applicant to conduct the study. The study must demonstrate that the new well will not impact or impair: Senior water rights; or Established in-stream flows and closures identified on this county map.
What if no one submits a Report of System Status (RSS) application?
Any of the following anticipated sewage flows: From a single-family residence (SFR); From a mobile home site in a mobile home park (MHP); or 450 gallons of sewage per day if not a SFR or MHP.
When can I submit my well application to the health department?
You can submit an application at any time. We will review and provide feedback on well applications, but will not issue a well site approval until you have complied with PALS' new requirements and PALS has made a determination of your water availability.
Who can complete a hydrogeologic study and how much does it cost?
A licensed Washington State Hydrogeologist must complete the Study. A hydrogeologic study cost depends on your location and whether other studies have been completed in your area.
Who submits the Report of System Status (RSS) application?
The RSS application can be submitted by the current home owner, buyer, real estate agent or agent for the escrow company. Some septic service companies also offer this service. See a list of approved septic service companies.
Why did the process for building and subdivision applications using permit-exempt wells as a potable water source change?
PALS implemented the new policy in response to a Washington State Supreme Court Decision (Whatcom County v. Hirst). In the Hirst decision, the Supreme Court ruled that counties must determine whether water is factually and legally available before approving development that relies on permit-exempt wells. In the past, such wells did not require a hydrogeologic assessment of water availability prior to issuing a building permit or subdivision approval.
Why does the health department review Boundary Line Adjustments (BLA) on lots with on-site sewage systems (OSS)?
Assure the BLA does not impact current OSS and the long-term ability of the OSS to treat and dispose of sewage.
How can I protect myself and my family from whooping cough?
Vaccination is the best prevention for whooping cough. Babies need three doses of DTaP (diptheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis) the first year of life (two, four and six months) and then booster doses at 12 to 18 months and at age 4 to 6 years. Adolescents age 11 get a booster of Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis) and adults who have never had this vaccine should get one. Pregnant women should get a Tdap with every pregnancy, between 27 and 36 weeks of pregnancy. The vaccine given during pregnancy helps the baby to be born already immunized until they received their own vaccine starting at two months. This is important, because most of the babies that die of pertussis are only a few weeks old. Anyone who cares for babies less than 12 months old, like child care providers and grandparents need Tdap.
What are the symptoms of whooping cough?
The symptoms usually begin 5 to 10 days after exposure to an infected person (average 7-10 days). Whooping cough usually starts with mild cold symptoms or cough, which can turn into severe coughing spells followed by gagging, or vomiting and sometimes a 'whoop' sound when trying to catch your breath. Babies do not always cough, but they may eat poorly, turn blue or stop breathing. Babies under one year old are also at highest risk for severe pertussis complications that require hospitalization. Symptoms include difficulty breathing, pneumonia, convulsions or even death.
What is the treatment for whooping cough?
A patient with whooping cough must take an antibiotic for five days to become non-contagious. A person diagnosed and treated for whooping cough should not return to day care, school, work, etc., until the antibiotic has been taken for at least five days. Not all antibiotics are effective against whooping cough. Antibiotics in the erythromycin 'family' are the most effective.
What is whooping cough and how s it spread?
Whooping cough (pertussis) is a highly contagious bacterial infection that causes a long-lasting and often severe cough. Whooping cough is spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Infants often get whooping cough from family members or care givers who do not know they are sick. An infected person can spread whooping cough for several weeks if the illness is not treated.
What should I do if I think someone in my family has whooping cough?
If someone has a persistent cough, especially if it lasts longer than two weeks, or if the coughing occurs in 'spells' followed by difficulty catching the breath or gagging, it could be whooping cough. If you think you or one of your family members has whooping cough, call your healthcare provider and ask about the disease. Medical providers can check for pertussis by taking a swab of the nose. Try to stay away from other people until treated or until another diagnosis proves it is not contagious.
Where can I get a whooping cough vaccine in Pierce County?
Everyone should be concerned about whooping cough, but the disease is more common in infants and young children who have not been immunized or who have not yet had enough doses of vaccine to be fully protected. If you have frequent contact with young infants or children, you should be concerned and take appropriate measures to protect them from the disease.
Can Health Department staff come speak to our school about topics like healthy behaviors, tobacco and vaping, nutrition, puberty, or sexual health?
Presentations to students:
Health Department subject matter experts may be available for classroom presentations to students and student-focused community events on a limited basis. Most presentations are not ready-made. We tailor them specifically for your students. We consider presentations on a case-by-case basis. Contact the persons and programs listed in our School Services Directory to ask about topic-specific presentations.
Presentations to school staff:
The Health Department offers the STD/HIV Educator Update Training at least once per school year. Registration is free and clock hours are available. High school and middle school health teachers, sexual education teachers, counselors, and nurses are the target audience for this training, although all K-12 educators are welcome. The Health Department is planning to offer this training online in the near future. For the next training date and location, and for more information, contact Evelyn Manley, STD/HIV Program Coordinator at (253) 798-4447 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Does the Health Department have resources I can use or display in my classroom?
Yes! We have free posters, stickers, bumper stickers, coloring pages, brochures, and other health-related materials.
To request resources:
Contact our School Health program at (253) 798-4926 or email@example.com with your contact information. We will contact you to find out the grade level and type of materials
you want. You can pick them up at the Health Department, or we can send
them to you. (Note: Materials are subject to change and availability.)
You can also contact specific Health Department programs to request materials. See our School Services Directory for program and contact information.
Handwashing activity booklets with Health Department grime-fighting heroes Super Scrub and Bubbles help teach children about the importance of handwashing. The eight-page booklet includes quizzes, puzzles, games, coloring pages, and general information about germs. The activities in the booklet are appropriate for children in grades two through four.
Free resources schools can check out from the Health Department:
Operation Suds is a self-administered, interactive program designed to help educators teach children in grades K through six about the need for handwashing. It takes about 45 minutes, depending on class size. After a brief discussion, students will watch a short animated video then participate in a black light activity to see germs and understand the importance of proper handwashing. Students will learn:
What germs are.
Where germs hide.
When to wash hands.
How to wash hands.
The Health Department can also provide other handwashing-related materials for educators to help reinforce the message in the classroom. Call (253) 798-6460 or reserve Operation Suds online.
How can our school and our students participate in the School-Based Oral Health program?
The School-Based Oral Health Program is a partnership between the Health Department, schools, and community dental providers. The program offers preventative dental services to students in the school setting. To sign-up or for more information, contact Dawn Jacobs at (253) 798-2945 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If a student has lice, what procedures should our school follow?
The Health Department follows current recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Association of School Nurses, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to address head lice. These guidelines have changed in recent years. Students with head lice no longer need to go home right away and remain out of school until the lice and nits are gone. Students diagnosed with head lice can remain at school and finish the school day.
Immediately after the diagnosis, the school should take these steps:
The school nurse should instruct the affected student not to share combs, brushes, caps, pillowcases or other items touching the head or worn near or on the head until the student is free from nits and lice.
The nurse should notify parents or guardians that the student has head lice.
The nurse should tell the family about appropriate treatment, such as special combs and shampoos to remove nits and lice. Advise the family to begin treatment at home after school.
The school should allow the student to return to school only if the student has started treatment.
Parents or guardians need to be diligent and consistent in daily treatment to remove nits and lice.
The nurse should ensure the family continues treatment until the student is free from nits and lice through periodic contact.
Parents or guardians should wash items that may have come in contact with the student’s head or that the student wore on or near the head.
The nurse should check the student’s head each school day until no nits or lice are present.
Students can return to school as long as they have started treatment. They can remain in school while receiving treatment until they are free from nits and crawling lice.
For school staff, we offer letters that explain about lice in English and Spanish to send home with students.
We will connect with you to find out more information about your event, including the date, time, and place. We will discuss with you the types of information that would be most appropriate for your event.
If we can, we would be happy to attend the event and staff a Health Department table.
We can leave materials at our front counter for pick up or send materials to you. (Note: Materials are subject to change and availability.)
What does the Health Department recommend as alternatives to suspension for students in violation of the school’s tobacco and substance use policy?
Alternatives to suspension can help students stay in school while participating in intervention strategies that promote awareness, behavior changes, and future prevention of substance use.
What grants or funding does the Health Department offer to schools?
Specific programs within the Health Department offer funding and grants, when available, to schools. Program staff will notify schools, districts, and community organizations as funding opportunities become available.
What kind of health and safety inspections does the Health Department conduct at schools?
Food Safety staff inspect school kitchens to make sure food is safe to eat.
Community Safety staff inspect classrooms, pools and elementary school playgrounds for general safety. They inspect classrooms for air quality. They also investigate illnesses and complaints.
Pollution Prevention staff inspect school grounds and middle and high school specialty classrooms, such as science, art, and shop, to ensure the proper management and disposal of chemicals.
For questions about health and safety inspections, contact Food@tpchd.org.
What services and programs does the Health Department offer to schools?
Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department offers more than 30 programs and services for schools, students, and school staff. Our School Services Directory lists these resources by:
Programs and services that support student health.
Resources for school administrators and staff.
Resources for students’ families and communities.
For more information on school health resources, like immunizations, flu, and sample letters for parents, visit our school health page on our Provider Resources site.
What should schools know when a public health consultant needs to speak with a student about a confidential health matter?
The Health Department will test and treat anyone 14 years and older. The state mandates this testing to prevent and control the spread of communicable disease (RCW 70.24.110). During the investigation, public health consultants may contact school nurses and administrators to arrange a private meeting with the student. Minors are able to receive testing and treatment without consent of a parent or guardian.
Questions? Contact Public Health Consultant Supervisor Evelyn Manley at (253) 798-4447 or email@example.com.
Where can our school refer parents with questions about child immunization?
The Health Department partners with MultiCare Health System, Mary Bridge Children's Hospital and Health Center, and Pierce County Immunization Coalition to provide free required and recommended immunizations to children. Services are available across Pierce County, including Tacoma and the South Hill Mall in Puyallup.
Visit our child immunization website for a monthly calendar of community immunization sites and hours of operation. Parents will need to bring their children’s immunization records so the clinics will know what vaccinations they already have and when they received them.
Questions about youth tobacco prevention? Contact Jessica Alvestad at (253) 377-4242 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Questions about vapor product prevention? Contact Angela Boyer at (253) 442-0352 or email@example.com.
South Tacoma Groundwater Protection District
Are there any incentive programs to offset the cost of the South Tacoma Groundwater Protection District (STGPD) program?
Yes. A STGPD-permitted facility can apply to become an EnviroStars-certified business. EnviroStars is a free and voluntary program that promotes the proper handling and reduction of both chemical and solid wastes. Businesses that successfully obtain and maintain their EnviroStars certification receive a discount on their annual STGPD permit fee. The amount of the discount may change from year to year. EnviroStars-certified businesses receive recertification visits instead of STGPD inspections. However, these businesses are still required to comply with all conditions of the STGPD permit and regulation. For more information, visit the health department's EnviroStars webpage.
How do I get a South Tacoma Groundwater Protection District (STGPD) permit?
To get a STGPD permit, you need to complete a STGPD application and submit the New Facility fee.
How much does a new South Tacoma Groundwater Protection District (STGPD) facility permit cost?
STGPD fees are listed on our fee schedule and may change from year to year. The initial permit cost is generally higher because it includes an initial review of the STGPD application, site inspections and time to bring a facility into compliance with requirements. Annual renewal permits cost less as they typically require less time.
How often will my business located in theSouth Tacoma Groundwater Protection District (STGPD) be inspected?
During the initial site visit, the health department representative will collect facility and hazardous substance information and provide guidance on the requirements. As necessary, follow-up site visits will be performed for any unresolved compliance issues. Permitted STGPD facilities are typically inspected every other year. Facility inspections may be more frequent based on compliance issues or large quantities of hazardous substances.
What happens if my business is not in compliance with South Tacoma Groundwater Protection District (STGPD) requirements?
The health department will work with your business to come into compliance with STGPD requirements through education and technical assistance. If a regulated facility is not progressing or refuses to comply with STGPD requirements, the health department has various enforcement mechanisms it can impose such as fines, revocation of your business license or having the business' water supply shut off.
What is the South Tacoma Groundwater Protection District (STGPD)?
The STGPD is a program designed to help protect the City of Tacoma's drinking water. The STGPD area is located above the South Tacoma aquifer and can provide the City up to 40% of its drinking water, particularly in the summer.
Which South Tacoma Groundwater Protection District (STGPD) annual permit class will apply to my business?
STGPD annual permits are divided into two classes. Your facility will be assigned a permit class based on your application and our initial inspection. Please see the fee schedule for fee amounts.
Class I Regulated Business with <1000 Gallons of Hazardous Substances on Site; or Infiltration System Only.
Class II Regulated Business with >1000 Gallons of Hazardous Substances on Site; or Regulated Business with an Infiltration System and Hazardous Substances (any quantity).
Who can I contact for more information or questions about the South Tacoma Groundwater Protection District (STGPD)?
Who is affected by the South Tacoma Groundwater Protection District (STGPD)?
The STGPD program regulates businesses with aboveground or underground storage tanks and/or hazardous substances at regulated quantities (product and waste totaling 220 pounds or more), and/or stormwater infiltration units. Private homes are not regulated.
Temporary Food Events
Do bake sales need a temporary food establishment permit?
Non-profit organizations operating for religious, charitable or educational purposes may hold bake sales with homemade baked goods not requiring temperature control.
You must individually wrap items.
A clearly visible sign at the point of sale must read, 'Food was prepared at a kitchen not inspected by the health department.'
Such bake sales do not need a permit.
What's not allowed at temporary food establishments?
Some items and processes are not allowed at temporary food establishments.
This includes, but is not limited to:
Cooking gyro bundles or cones.
Cooling food of any kind.
Room temperature storage or time as a control for items like sushi rice.
Call (253) 798-4709 for more information.
Who needs to get a temporary food establishment permit?
Do you plan to serve or sell food at events open to the public?
You must get a permit. Your event is public if you advertise using:
A-Boards or signs.
Mentions in newspaper articles or ads.
Facebook, Twitter or other social media.
Any other form of public advertising.
Church dinners, by invitation only, or unadvertised events for members and their guests do not need a permit.
How do I get tested for TB?
The two types of tests for TB infection are:
a skin test (TST).
a blood test.
For a skin test, medical staff inject a very small amount of test liquid (not TB bacteria) into a person's arm. Medical staff then read the test 2-3 days later by looking for a reaction.
For a TB blood test, you will have blood drawn. It requires only one visit and the results usually are available within one week.
How do I know if I have latent or active TB?
Your healthcare provider can test you for TB. If the test is positive, you need a chest x-ray and physical exam to make sure you are not sick with TB. People with a positive test, no TB symptoms and a negative physical exam do not have TB disease. They are infected with TB but are not contagious.
Is there a vaccine for TB?
We do not vaccinate against TB in the United States. In countries where TB is common, many children receive'BCG vaccine. This vaccine works well to prevent infants and children from dying of TB. However, it wears off over time and doesn't protect children or adults from becoming infected with TB.
What are the symptoms of TB?
People with active TB usually have one or more of these symptoms:
Unexplained cough for three or more weeks.
Coughing up blood.
Unexplained night sweats.
Unexplained weight loss.
What if I have been exposed to TB?
If you are concerned that you have been exposed to TB, contact your healthcare provider or the health department.
What if I have been infected with TB?
If your provider says you are infected with TB, they will talk with you about taking antibiotics to kill the TB bacteria.
What if I have TB disease?
Washington State Law requires healthcare providers to report all cases of active TB to the local health department. Health department staff work with all patients who have active TB to make sure they get treatment to cure the disease.
What is active TB?
People with active TB has been infected with TB bacteria and their immune system is no longer able to control it. People may become very sick and die without treatment. TB bacteria can infect any part of the body and cause disease, but most people who get TB will have it in their lungs. A person with active TB in the lungs or throat can spread the bacteria to others when they cough, laugh, sneeze, sing or shout.
What is latent (sleeping) TB infection?
People with latent TB infection (LTBI) is infected with TB bacteria but their immune system has kept it under control. People with latent TB are not sick and cannot infect other people. Yet, people with latent TB can develop active TB at any time and should talk to their healthcare provider about treatment.
What is TB?
Bacteria causes Tuberculosis, and antibiotics typically cure it. The two stages of TB are infection and disease.
Where can I get a TB test?
Talk to your healthcare provider about the test. Many clinics and provider offices can do the testing. Call the provider first to see if you need to schedule an appointment and the cost of the test. If you do not have a regular provider, please go to one of the clinics listed but call first for pricing information.
Who is at risk for active TB?
People with HIV/AIDS.
People recently exposed to someone with TB.
Children less than 4 years of age.
People with diabetes, lung disease, kidney disease, cancer, organ transplants, or other conditions that weaken the immune system.
People who are underweight or take medications that lower immune system function.
People who smoke tobacco.
Who is at risk for TB infection?
Anyone exposed to a person with TB can become infected. TB is not easily spread. Spreading TB requires spending long periods of time in a closed space, such as a house with all the windows shut. TB is common in many parts of the world, and about one-third of the world's population is infected with TB bacteria. TB is not common in the United States, Washington State, or Pierce County. People with the most risk for TB exposure are: People who were born in or travel to areas of the world where TB is'common. TB is widespread in Central and South America, Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia. People who live or work in crowded areas such as shelters, nursing homes, treatment centers or jails. This happens because someone who is sick can spread TB to others in closed spaces. Healthcare workers. People who live with someone with active TB.
How can I correct a mistake on a birth or death record?
Birth to one year: please contact the hospital where the birth occurred.
Death: please contact your funeral director to submit the affidavit for correction.
How do I complete a court-ordered name change?
Anyone can obtain a court-ordered name change order from their current state of residence. Once they have the court-issued court order, they would need to submit it to the Center for Health Statistics here in Washington to amend any record that occurred in this state. Parents who have had a legal name change and are changing their name on a birth certificate for a child who was born in Washington State must also submit the court-issued court order to the Center for Health Statistics.
How do I correct a Record
All records are registered as received; Local Health Jurisdictions such as the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department can issue certificates once they have been filed by the hospital where the birth occurred or, for a death certificate, by the funeral home the family chose to handle the event.
If the child was born within the past year, you can contact the hospital to see if they are able to submit the affidavit for you; for a death that occurred within the past year, contact the funeral home that submitted the record on behalf of the family.
How do I get an updated certificate due to a change being made?
Return the certified certificate to the office you purchased it from or the Center for Health Statistics within one year of the issue date for a free exchange. The date issued is on the top right side of the certificate.
How do I order a certificate of death that took place before July 1, 1907?
If you want a certificate for a death that took place before July 1, 1907, please contact the research office of the Washington State Archives.
How do I request a certificate for a marriage that took place in Pierce County?
Marriages can be obtained from the Pierce County Auditor's office at (253) 798-7435; their mailing address is Pierce County Auditor, 2401 S 35th St, Room 200, Tacoma, WA 98402.
How do I request a certificate/decree for a divorce that took place in Pierce County?
Divorce decrees may be obtained from the court where the divorce was granted; here in Pierce County that would be at the Superior Court, 930 Tacoma Ave S, Room 110, Tacoma, WA 98402 or you may call (253) 798-6455.
How fast can I obtain certified certificates of death?
If the death record is filed in the morning before 10am, it is available to be issued on by 12 noon. Death records must be signed by three different agencies responsible for three different sections of the death record:
Funeral homes obtain personal information on the decedent from friends or family, completes the demographic section of the death record and signs his/her portion.
Medical Certifier reviews the death and medical files on the decedent and places the cause of death on the record, then signs the medical portion.
Deputy Registrar reviews the record for completeness on the demographic portion, reviews the cause of death listed by the medical certifier and ascertains if the death record should be reviewed by the medical examiner.
Once these sections have been reviewed, the deputy registrar signs off on the death record and files it with the Center for Health Statistics.
I completed a birth filing form at the time of my child's birth. When will I received the copy of my child's certificate of birth?
The birth filing form is used to register the birth with the Washington State Department of Health. If you want a certified copy of a birth certificate for your child, you need to submit an application and pay the applicable fees.
I ordered a certificate of birth or death from your office over 90 days ago but haven't received it. What should I do?
Contact us at (253) 798-6418, press zero when the recording starts and ask that we investigate to see what happened to your order. Once we confirm we processed it, we will do a further investigation to see if the order was returned to us due to lack of an address; if found, we will re-ship. If your order was lost in the mail and you've waited more than the 90 days allowance, you will need to re-order the certificate.
I ordered a certificate of birth or death from your office within the past 90 days but haven't received it. What should I do?
If your order was processed within the past 3 months, contact us at (253) 798-6418 and press zero when the recording starts. We will do an investigation to confirm the order was processed and see if it was returned to us or lost in the mail; if lost, we will replace it if you have called within 90 days of the issue date.
The hospital gave me a certificate when we left. Is that considered an official certificate of birth?
No. Only certified copies of certificates of birth are considered official. The certificate will be multi-colored certificate paper with Certificate of Live Birth at the top, the embossed head of Washington on the front, bottom center and a certification stamp on the back.
There is a mistake on the certificate certificate of birth or death I ordered, but I provided the correct information on the order form. How did this happen?
We do not create a certificate from the information provided on the order form; we use your request form information to find the correct record in the state database. The record information comes from the hospital or other facility where the event occurred. The actual certificate you receive is a copy of the information we already have in our files.
What do I need to order a certificate of birth if I am adopted?
If you are adopted, and need your legal birth certificate, we require the full adopted name of the child, adoptive mother's full maiden name, and adoptive father's full name along with the date and place of birth for the child. For information about adoption or how to order a copy of your original birth certificate, please visit the Washington State Department of Health.
What do I need to order a certificate of birth?
To submit requests for birth certificates, you must provide the required five pieces of birth information, as mandated by state law, WAC 246-490-055. We must have an exact match for the information compared between the request form and the birth record in order to issue the certificate:
Full Birth Name of Child.
Full Maiden (or Birth) Name of Mother (Mother's name before marriage).
Full Birth Name of Father.
Full Date of Birth.
City the child was born in.
What is an apostille?
An "apostille" is a certificate that authenticates the origin of a public document, such as a birth, marriage, or death certificate. The apostille certificate verifies to a foreign government that the birth, death, marriage or divorce certificate is an official document from Washington State. You can find more information about apostilles on the Secretary of State's website.
Where do I go to get information on ordering birth or death records from from another state?
Mosquitoes not found in Washington State spread the virus.
From a mother to her unborn baby.
Unprotected sex with someone who has Zika.
What are the symptoms of Zika?
Zika virus is usually a very mild illness with mild symptoms lasting several days to a week including:
Some people don’t have any symptoms.
What is Zika?
Mosquitoes not found in Washington spread the Zika virus. In healthy adults and children, Zika usually causes very mild illness. Some people don't have symptoms at all. But if a pregnant woman catches the virus, Zika can cause severe birth defects. Very rarely, people who contract Zika have more serious illnesses affecting the brain and nervous system (such as Guillain-Barre syndrome).