9 The Environmental Health Bureau (EHB) of the County of Monterey Health Department works behind the scenes to protect everything from the food we eat in restaurants to the homes we make for our families. “Environmental Health Bureau’s influence can be seen everywhere; in clean air, clean water, sanitation, green spaces and safe workplaces, all that enhance quality of life,” said Ric Encarnacion, Bureau Chief and Director of Environmental Health for MCHD. “This ultimately results in healthier lifestyles, improved productivity, empowerment of women, safer children, and security for the elderly,” says Encarnacion. “We have about 10,000 environmental health-permitted activities that we oversee per year,” Encarnacion continued, “The EHB ensures that those who can affect the health of others, through their business or own personal actions, do what results in positive outcomes for their customers and the general public.” In addition to these permitted activities, the 52-member EHB team also monitors “a few hundred more” non-permitted issues that may need a quick response, like complaints of illegal housing or food-borne illness outbreaks. The Environmental Health Bureau operates offices in Monterey, Salinas, and King City with a $13 million budget. While these efforts may feel cumbersome to citizens, Encarnacion asserts the EHB is “directly linked” to sustaining a more nurturing community and boosting a population’s overall mental wellbeing. The EHB evolved to meet the needs and challenges of California’s First City, ever since the first investigations to identify and control communicable diseases among early settlers in 1870. Then called the State Board of Health, these closely-tied functions of environmental and public health formed the foundations of the County of Monterey Health Department. Public Health remains in collaboration with Environmental Health, although the bureau’s name can be a misnomer to the public, said Encarnacion. “Another common misperception is that environmental health is only about preserving the (natural) environment,” he said. “Our primary duty is to protect the health of the public, especially by Environmental Health 1950 1950s Communicable diseases like polio, smallpox, and tuberculosis, once the number one priority of public health, are eradicated through vaccination campaigns