Environmental Health

Environmental health is an integral part of Minnesota's public health system. The division works on many environmental issues, including natural and man-made disasters, air and water quality, chemical and radiological exposures, food borne disease outbreaks, and other health safety issues.

One the goals of Sherburne County Health and Human Services is to reduce exposure to environmental health hazards. Pollutants may be found in the air, water, and soil. Young children are especially vulnerable to these hazards, whether it is nitrites or lead in well water, secondhand smoke, mold or West Nile Virus. The Public Health Department offers kits for tests and information on a wide variety of environmental health concerns.

Well Water Testing

Sherburne County has high levels of natural lead, fluoride, and nitrite. We recommend that residents test their wells annually for nitrite and bacteria. For infants under 6 months of age, we suggest using filtered, bottled, or distilled water. This is because city water standards are set for adults, not children. A testing kit may be purchased at the Zoning Department.

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Lead is a common metal, which has been used over the years in many consumer products. It can still be found in lead based paint and under some conditions in air, soil, household dust, pottery, food, plumbing pipes and components, and drinking water. If it is inhaled or swallowed, lead can build up in the body over time. If too much lead enters the body, it can damage the brain, nervous system, red blood cells, and kidneys.

Lead in drinking water can be a particular problem for infants who drink formula made with tap water. Pregnant women and nursing mothers also need to be concerned about the lead levels in drinking water, since it can be passed on to unborn children and breast-fed babies.

The prescription drug drop-off bin is located at the Sherburne County Sheriff's Office (Door E) and can be accessed during the hours of 8:00am to 4:30pm. Prescription drugs must be kept in the original container – no liquid or sharps are accepted.


Medication/Prescription Drugs

Due to increasing concerns over the pharmaceutical pollution of surface waters, accidental poisonings, and illegal drug use, the Becker, Big Lake, and Princeton Police Departments and Sherburne County Sheriff's Office have started a program to properly dispose of unwanted medications.

Residents may drop off the following items free of charge:

  • Prescription drug pills & capsules
    • Please keep medication in its original container
    • Keep drug name on original container
    • Remove patient's name with a marker
  • Over-the-counter pills & capsules in original container
No liquids or sharps are accepted.

Disposal Locations:



Concern about indoor exposure to mold has been increasing as the public becomes aware that exposure to mold can cause a variety of health effects and symptoms, including allergic reactions, such as nasal and sinus congestion, cough, wheeze/breathing difficulties, sore throat, skin and eye irritation, upper respiratory infections (including sinus).

Mold can affect the health of people who are exposed to it. People are mainly exposed to mold by breathing spores or other tiny fragments. People can also be exposed through skin contact with mold contaminants (for example, by touching moldy surfaces) and by swallowing it.

Although not all molds produce toxins, it should be removed from the home as soon as possible. Special clean-up procedures and equipment may be needed in order to protect you and your family. To check for mold, look for signs of excess moisture, water damage, discolorations or a musty smell. The Minnesota Department of Health does not recommend testing for mold.

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Sherburne County Public Health provides information on radon and how to protect your family's health. The U.S. Surgeon General, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) recommend that every Minnesota home be tested for radon.

Radon is not regulated in Minnesota, so it is up to homeowners to decide for themselves how much radon is acceptable in their home. The good news is, homeowners can act to lower the amount of radon in their homes and reduce the risks to their family.

Radon in Sherburne County Homes

Sherburne County Public Health established an indoor radon program in October of 2003, through a State Indoor Radon Grant from the Minnesota Department of Health. This allowed Sherburne County Public Health to sell low-cost radon test kits to Sherburne County residents and provide awareness and education to residents. The data from completed test kits is used to track radon trends in Sherburne County and surrounding areas.

Interactive County Radon Maps and Charts

You can purchase Short Term Radon Test Kits from the following businesses or the Sherburne County Health & Human Services reception desk for just $5.00.

Becker True Value Hardware
13350 1st Street
Becker, MN 55308

Big Lake Hardware Hank
621 Rose Drive NW
Big Lake, MN 55309

Johnson's Hardware Hank
12860 Fremont Avenue
Zimmerman, MN 55398

Long Term Test Kits may be purchased from the State of Minnesota

Did you Know...

Exposure in a home that has as little as 4 pCi/L, the EPA action level, is like receiving 200 chest x-rays per year. (AARST, 2004)

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Health & Human Services Contact:

Sherburne County Govt Center
ATTN: Health & Human Services
13880 Business Center Dr NW
Elk River, MN 55330-1692

Office Location & Hours

Phone: 763-765-4000
Fax: 763-765-4096

Contact Sherburne County with your questions, comments and feedback