Environmental Health

Regional Collection Center Satellite Site

Calhoun county was awarded a grant by the DNR to set up a satellite collection center for household hazardous wastes. The site will help county residents manage their unusable household waste such as herbicides, cleaning agents, button batteries and much more. You can read the Metro Waste Authority's website to learn what wastes are accepted and other ways to mange them besides disposal through the satellite site. The waste site closes for the winter around Nov. 1 and opens again around April 1. You must have an appointment to bring in wastes. Please call 297-8323  with a list of materials you want to bring in and to make an appointment.

For more information "green" household cleaners and other supplies, please visit this site. There is also a list of the hazards and ingredients in many "green" products and some of hidden dangers. 

We are now able to take business waste. The business must qualify as a VSQG (very small quantity generator). For more information and to see if your business qualifies, visit the Metro Waste Authorities website. Click here to see the materials that must be submitted. Once qualified, call us to make your appointment. Fees apply.

Farm chemicals are considered business waste and there is a charge for bringing them in for disposal. Contact us for more information and to register. Fee is around $1.94 per lb. You may also contact chemical suppliers as many have a take back program and they will handle disposal. A business account will need to be set up prior to bringing in waste. Contact Metro Waste at 515-967-5512.

Old Medications. Medication disposal practices commonly used today compromise the integrity of water supplies. Unused and expired drugs pile up in home medicine cabinets, which increase the likelihood for teenagers, elderly, pets, or others to misuse or abuse them. The TakeAway program aims to reverse these trends by providing the public with a safe, easy way to properly dispose of unwanted and expired medications. TakeAway uses community pharmacies across the state as take-back sites.

Visit this site to find a list of sites in your area. You can search by zipcode and see what products are accepted. In Calhoun County Woodlawn Pharmacy in Lake City is participating. Please be sure and thank them when bringing in your materials.

Electronic Waste. For information on the ways to dispose of unwanted electronics, not including appliances, click here.

For other items:

Animal Control

All incidents of animal bites are recorded and investigated whether they involve domesticated or wild animals. All bites should be reported immediately to this department for follow-up. Keeping your pet up to date with rabies vaccination will save alot of time and money should it be involved in a bite. It is also state law that dogs and cats be vaccinated for rabies. Please call this office following an animal bite to ensure the proper protocol is followed. For detailed exposure information visit this website.

This dept. also runs the Calhoun County Canine Shelter and houses stray and lost dogs. Check out their web site for available animals or visit www.petfinder.com. Call 712-297-8323  for more information about adoptable dogs. Click here to download an application.


All food establishments, including schools, restaurants, bars, grocery stores, tanning facilities, septic tank pumpers, and tattoo establishments are inspected annually for compliance with State Code for food safety and hygienic practices. Any complaints or concerns about Calhoun County establishments or motels should be directed to the Buena Vista County Env. Health Office, as well as possible incidents of food-borne illnesses or submitted to Department of Inspections and Appeals (DIA) at www.state.ia.us/government/dia/. All inspections done in the state of Iowa are available to view here.

Buena Vista County can be contacted at:
Ben Mueggenberg
Buena Vista County
Environmental Health/ Zoning
P.O. Box 301
Storm Lake, IA 50588

Information on Tanning, Tattoo, and Pool inspections can be found by calling 712-297-8323.

Water Testing/ Well Closure Assistance

The Iowa Department of Public Health gives grants to Iowa counties for free well water testing and well closure cost sharing to County residents. The tests that are paid for are bacteria, nitrates and arsenic. Additional testing is available for the applicable lab fee. Eligible residents may also receive cost share on well rehabilitation for qualifying wells. A water sample must be collected prior to rehabilitation to ensure a well qualifies.

State code requires abandoned wells be closed within 90 days of abandonment. Wells designated as a reserve well must be deemed safe and not allow any contamination of the groundwater.

More information on wells maintenance can be found on the National Groundwater Associations website at www.wellowner.org. Activities and experiments for kids can be found at www.groundwateradventurers.org.

Other information:


New well permits and septic system permits are issued to residents as per the state codes of Iowa. Fees are dependent on service. The State code guidelines must be met for distances and designs of each device. Zoning permits are issued for new residential construction in rural areas of Calhoun County through the Zoning Office.

For septic system code information, septic pumper listings, low interest loan information, and other septic related information, visit the IDNR Website.

Lead Poisoning Prevention Program

This program is aimed at reducing the incidence of childhood blood lead poisoning. All families with children found to be lead poisoned already will receive free services to find the source of the lead and will be instructed on safe remediation procedures. Others interested in preventing lead poisoning or who need information on safe paint removal practices can also receive information from this office.

Indoor Air Quality/ Nuisances
This program focuses on education and remediation of public health nuisances, radon, carbon monoxide, tobacco smoke and mold. Radon is a radioactive gas that is a leading contributor to lung cancer rates in Iowa . Radon test kits are offered to residents at little cost. For more information on radon and its health effects, visit www.epa.gov/radon/

  • Public health nuisances are things like cockroach or rodent infestations, toxic or dangerous odors, gases, or wastes, and other nuisances hazardous to the public health.
  • Carbon monoxide is a deadly gas that is odorless and colorless. It is easily detected with a test kit or alarm.
  • Molds are simple, microscopic organisms, found virtually everywhere, indoors and outdoors. When molds are present in large quantities, they can cause allergic symptoms similar to those caused by plant pollen.
  • Tobacco smoke presents health hazards, not only to smokers but to those who breathe it second hand. There is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke.

Visit the Iowa Dept. of Public Health's Bureau of Environmental Health Services website for information the programs provided and supervised by the state.

Who is eligible?
All residents within boundaries of Calhoun County.

What is the fee?

No charge for consultation or grant-funded services. Participants may be asked to share costs for test kit supplies or labor intensive projects. Permit fees apply for wells and septic systems.
Adoption fee required for shelter animals.
For more information contact Shelly Schossow.

Childhood Lead Poisonings Increase in Iowa
Home remodeling projects increase lead exposure

The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) reports the number of childhood lead poisoning cases in Iowa is increasing. Between June, 2009 and September, 2009, most of the cases investigated by IDPH-certified lead inspectors resulted from homeowners renovating, remodeling, or making unsafe repairs to their pre-1978 homes. “In this economy, many Iowans are choosing to invest in their older homes by remodeling,” said Kevin Officer, Environmental Specialist Senior with the IDPH Bureau of Lead Poisoning Prevention. “It’s important remodelers follow lead-safe practices to protect young children from lead poisoning.”

Of the childhood lead poisonings investigated by IDPH-certified inspectors, 75 percent (12 out of 16) were exposed to lead from home remodeling projects. The actual number of lead poisoning cases is most likely much higher, as IDPH inspectors only service 30 percent of Iowa counties. The remaining 70 percent of Iowa counties are serviced by local childhood lead poisoning prevention programs.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), lead poisoning is one of the most common and preventable pediatric health problems today. Childhood lead poisoning has significant effects on the health of children and the community. Lead has adverse effects on nearly all organ systems in the body. It is especially harmful to the developing brains and nervous systems of children under the age of six years. At very high blood lead levels, children can have severe brain damage or even die. Statewide, the prevalence of lead poisoning among children under the age of six years is 7 percent. This is more than four times the national average of 1.6 percent.

Lead-safe work practices recommended by IDPH include:

  1. Remove lead-based paint carefully. You should never dry scrape or dry sand lead-based paint on the inside or outside of your home. Always mist surfaces with water before scraping or sanding them.
  2. Use a tarp or piece of plastic to catch paint chips when you are working on the outside of your house. This will keep paint chips from falling on the soil. If you are working outside, close windows to prevent lead dust from entering the home.
  3. Cover the floor and furniture that cannot be removed from the room with a sheet of plastic. Seal each room from the rest of the house with plastic while working on it.
  4. Keep pregnant women and children out of the room if you are working on a small project. For larger projects, keep pregnant women and children out of the house until you complete the job.
  5. After you complete the job, wash all surfaces thoroughly with any household detergent. Vacuum with a HEPA vacuum or a regular vacuum with micro filter bags.
  6. Place paint chips, dust and pieces of wood in a plastic bag at the end of each day. Put this with your garbage that will go to the landfill.

For more information about lead poisoning, visit the IDPH website or call 800-972-2026.