The main objective of this research was to ascertain the association between organizational characteristics of local health departments (LHDs) and environmental health (EH) services rendered in the community. Data used for the analysis were collected from LHDs by the National Association of County and City Health Officials for its 2013 national profile study of LHDs. We analyzed the data during 2016. Apart from understanding basic characteristics of LHDs in the nation, we introduced new measures of these characteristics, including “EH full-time equivalents” per 100,000 population and “other revenue” (revenues from fees and fines) per capita.
The association of these and other organizational characteristics with EH services were measured using likelihood ratio χ2 and t-tests. Out of 34 EH services considered, LHDs directly provided an average of 12 different services. As many as 41% of the 34 EH services were not available in more than 10% of the communities served by LHDs. About 70% of communities received some services from organizations other than LHDs. All the available organizational characteristics of LHDs had association with some of the EH services. Although we might assume an increase in per capita expenditure could result in an increase in LHDs’ direct involvement in providing EH services, we found it to be true only for five (15%) of the EH services. The variation of EH services provided in communities could be explained by a combination of factors such as fee generation, community needs, type of governance, and population size.