Environmental Health Concerns
Environmental health concerns typically involve exposures to chemicals or other potentially harmful substances. The Cambridge Public Health Department has environmental health experts who offer guidance to residents and employers. Our staff can help you with:
Chemical, odor, or smoke exposures in outdoor settings. If you are concerned that you were exposed to potentially harmful chemicals, materials, odors, or smoke outside your home, our staff can offer guidance and/or conduct a site visit. In some situations, our staff will refer you to another city department or state agency.
Variance Requests to the Board of State Examiners of Plumbers and Gas Fitters. If you are submitting a variance request to the Board of State Examiners of Plumbers and Gas Fitters, you will need proof that you notified your local board of health. For proof of notification, please email your application to Sam Lipson at the Cambridge Public Health Department at [email protected]. You will receive an email reply that will serve as proof of notification.
Other Complaints or Problems
Many public health problems in Cambridge are handled by other city departments or the state. Here is a list of common public health issues and the agencies responsible for addressing them.
Dead animals. If you find a dead animal on the street, please contact the city’s Public Works Department at 617-349-4860 for removal. You can also report through the Commonwealth Connect App. Dead animals found on private property are the responsibility of the property owner.
Housing. For housing-related issues, such as indoor air quality, mold, asbestos, lead paint, pests, and housing code violations, you should contact the city’s Inspectional Services Department at 617-349-6100.
Noise. A list of noise complaints and where to report them in Cambridge is posted on the city’s License Commission website. Most complaints can be reported by contacting the License Commission at 617-349-6140 or the Cambridge Police Department’s non-emergency number, 617-349-3300.
Restaurant Food Safety. If you are concerned about the food safety at a Cambridge restaurant or other food service establishment, call the city’s Inspectional Services Department at 617-349-6100.
Tap water quality concerns. The Cambridge Water Department offers free tap water testing for lead and copper to Cambridge residents.
Tobacco. The Cambridge Public Health Department belongs to the Six City Tobacco Initiative, run by the Somerville Board of Health and funded by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. The initiative’s goals are to prevent young people from becoming addicted to tobacco and to protect the public from secondhand smoke.
- For concerns about Selling Tobacco Products to Minors or Smoking in Public Places, contact:
Director, Six City Tobacco Initiative
(617) 625-6600 ext 4318
- For concerns about smoking in public or private housing, you should work with the owner or condo association to establish smoke-free leases. Please note that smoking in residential properties is not enforceable under local, state or federal law. Many condo buildings and rental properties have smoke-free covenants or leases. These agreements are contracts and are intended to protect the rights of non-smoking residents.
Vehicle idling. Report concerns about idling vehicles to the Cambridge Police Department’s non-emergency line, 617-349-3300. Massachusetts law limits unnecessary engine idling to 5 minutes. However, it is difficult to respond to idling complaints unless there is a regular pattern of idling.
Workplace Health and Safety
Public Sector Workplaces. If you have a concern about workplace safety in a public sector (government) workplace, contact the Massachusetts Department of Workplace Safety & Health at 508-616-0461 ext. 9488.
Private Sector Workplaces. If you have a concern about workplace safety at a private sector workplace, contact the Massachusetts Office of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration at (978) 837-4460. Private sector workplaces include businesses, nonprofits, faith-based organizations, and private schools and universities.
Additional Resources for Private Sector Workplaces
- The Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards (DLS) offers a free service designed to help employers recognize and control possible safety and health hazards at their worksites, and assist in training employees. For more information, call 508-616-0461.
- Health and safety plans and programs for the private sector
- MASSsafetyWorks! offers employers and employees of Massachusetts with suggestions how to improve workplace safety.
Updated: March 24, 2023