Calvert County Health Department
About Our Agency: Health Laws
State of Maryland health laws that are enforceable by the Health Officer are set forth in the Maryland Code, primarily in the Health-General Article and the Environment Article. Under direction of the Secretary of Health and Mental Hygiene and under authority specifically delegated by the Secretary of the Environment, the Health Officer has broad authority to investigate and order the abatement of any condition that is dangerous to health or safety. Routine enforcement activities at the local level are focused mainly in communicable disease control, rabies prevention, safety of food offered to the public, public bathing beaches and swimming pools, private potable water supplies, on-site septic systems, and nuisances. While the definition of “nuisance” excludes farm operations, it does include a wide variety of conditions, e.g., an inadequately protected swimming pool, excessive accumulation of trash or garbage, an unkempt junkyard, or even poor housekeeping that could endanger health.
In performing an investigation of a condition that is suspected of being a health or safety hazard, including nuisances, the Health Officer has authority under the law to enter any place of employment, business, school, or private property. In an emergency, the Health Officer may enter a private residence, otherwise the home owner’s permission or a court order is required for entry into a private home.
In general, enforcement activities are based on state regulations, which are promulgated by either the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene or the Department of the Environment. While the law is the source of authority for all regulations, the regulations should always be consulted because they generally give more detailed explanations of legal requirements than may be present in the law. Nevertheless, regulations, in spite of their derivative nature, should be regarded as having the full force of law.