Frequently Asked Questions by Topic

The Division of Environental Assistance and Customer Service has compiled a list and provided answers to common questions that its Customer Service staff receives.

Tab/Accordion Items

Where can I get information about the health effects associated with asbestos?

If asbestos fibers are released into the air they may be inhaled and cause serious respiratory and other health problems. For information, contact the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Hazards Control Unit. Telephone: (919) 707-5950. Web site:

Where can I find information about training, permitting and accreditation requirements for those who remove or manage asbestos, or check to see if a removal contractor is licensed?

Permits are required for most asbestos removal projects, and persons who manage asbestos must be trained and accredited. Notification is also required before demolition of a building. For more information, contact the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Hazards Control Unit. Telephone: (919) 707-5950. Web site:

What do I do with my old, outdated computer and electronic equipment?

Technology advancements in the computer and electronic equipment industry occur so quickly that they can become outdated almost overnight. Much of this equipment, or parts, can be recycled in some manner. Learn more about recycling and disposal of computers. For similar information about electronics, visit the following website

Who do I contact if I have a problem with my drinking water or want my well water tested?

For individual or "private" wells, contact your local health department staff.
If you are on a community water system (which means there are at least 15 connections or 25 or more people), then contact the water system operator or the regional staff of the Public Water Supply Section (PWSS) in the Division of Water Resources. A list of PWSS regional staff by county can be found online.

Where can I find more information about private wells, including permitting and setback requirements?

The website for the state's Private Well Program contains a lot of information for private well owners. For more information, visit:

Where can I find environmental, regulatory and disposal information for fluorescent lights?

Even though fluorescent lights require some amount of mercury to function, using high-efficiency fluorescents saves energy and actually results in a net reduction in mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants. The recycling and disposal of fluorescent lamps, particularly from non-household sources, further increases the net mercury benefits of fluorescent lights. To find out more about fluorescent lights, visit the N.C. Division of Environmental Assistance and Customer Service fluorescent light website.

How do I report a complaint regarding a food service establishment where I ate in North Carolina?

Complaints or concerns regarding food establishments in North Carolina should be reported to the environmental health staff at the health department in the county where the establishment is located. A list of environmental health staff by county health department can be found online.

Where do I report Freon leaks?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for enforcing certain regulations under the Clean Air Act, including ozone-depleting substances, often referred to as Freon, refrigerants, CFCs or other names. To report releases, please call (404) 562-9215.

Where can I get the latest ozone forecast for my area?

Check the following website:

How do I dispose of my household hazardous waste?

Household hazardous waste -- items such as cleansers, pesticides, furniture strippers, paints and paint thinners, etc., that you frequently keep under the sink or on a shelf in the garage can sometimes be recycled by donating them to other organizations that can use them. If you need to dispose of these items, however, they should be managed properly by taking them to a household hazardous waste collection event or facility. Contact your local solid waste management officials for information about the management of these wastes in your area. Learn more about household hazardous waste and find a listing of household hazardous waste collection facilities.

Where can I get information about freshwater fishing licenses, regulations, stocking schedules and more?

The Wildlife Resources Commission regulates freshwater fishing in North Carolina. For information, check the following website: To purchase a freshwater fishing license by credit card, call 1-888-2HUNTFISH.

What about saltwater fishing information and licenses?

The Division of Marine Fisheries regulates both recreational and commercial saltwater fishing in North Carolina. For information about licenses, size limits, artificial reef guides and more, visit the Divison of Marine Fisheries website or call (800) 682-2632.

Where can I get hunting and trapping information and licenses?

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission regulates hunting and trapping in this state. For information, check the following Web site: and To purchase a hunting/trapping license by credit card, call 1-888-2HUNTFISH.

Who do I contact about illegal dumping?

Local government officials may be able to offer assistance with illegal dumping issues. Learn more about illegal dumping and how to report it.

Where can I get information about the health effects associated with lead?

Lead can cause health problems for people when swallowed or inhaled. While potentially harmful to individuals of all ages, lead exposure is especially harmful to children under six years of age because it affects their developing brains and nervous systems. Ingesting or swallowing lead-contaminated materials is the primary way people get lead poisoning at home. Small children are particularly susceptible because of their constant hand-to-mouth activity. For information, contact the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Hazards Control Unit. Telephone: (919) 707-5950.

Where can I find information about training, permitting and certification requirements for those who abate or disturb lead-based paint (i.e., conducting renovations, repair or painting), or check to see if a contractor or firm is properly certified or trained for lead-based paint work?

Permits for lead-based paint abatement are required for housing and child-occupied facilities built before 1978. For information, contact the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Hazards Control Unit. Telephone: (919) 707-5950.

Who do I contact about mold and mildew problems?

Mold and mildew issues are handled by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services at (919) 707-5950. The following Web sites have information about mold and mildew problems, treatment and more:

Who do I contact about odors from the neighboring animal operation?

The N.C. Division of Air Quality regulates odors from animal operations such as hog and poultry farms. Learn more about these regulations.

What about other objectionable odors?

You may contact your local governing authority (e.g., municipal or county government) to see if they have any ordinances or regulations pertaining to odors. 

Is used oil a hazardous waste?

Used oil is not considered a hazardous waste. It has its own set of rules and regulations. Learn more about used oil regulations.

How do I dispose of used oil?

It is illegal to dispose of used oil in a municipal solid waste landfill, on the ground, in storm drains, etc. Some local government solid waste programs may accept used oil on a regular basis or through a household hazardous waste collection day. Contact local solid waste officials for information about the disposal of used oil in your county. Local jobbers (companies that provide fuel) may also take used oil. They may charge a fee for this service. Check the "Yellow Pages" of your phone book for a listing of fuel companies. The website for the N.C. Division of Environmental Assistance and Customer Service has a Recycling Markets Directory with a listing of petroleum recyclers.

How do I dispose of used oil filters?

In 2005, House Bill 1465 was ratified to ban the disposal of oil filters by Oct. 1, 2009. Oil filters are highly-recyclable products containing materials desired by manufacturers for industrial use. Learn more and find information for citizens, local governments and businesses generating used oil filters.

Where can I find information about open burning?

The N.C. Division of Air Quality has a lot of information about open burning, what can and cannot be burned, permits, burning structures for fire training, etc. Learn more. The "Burning Questions" are a good source of information.

Where can I find information about bed bugs, including prevention measures?

The NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Structural Pest Control and Pesticide Division, Sleep Products Section has information on its website - Information available includes the control of bed bugs; traveler's guide for bed bugs and used mattress (Sleep Products Program) information.

Who regulates the disposal of pesticides?

The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services regulates the disposal of pesticides. The Pesticide Disposal Assistance Program (PDAP) is a consumer services program in the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The PDAP, part of the Structural Pest Control and Pesticides Division, is a NON-REGULATORY program that provides cost-free assistance to farmers and homeowners. The goal of the Pesticide Disposal Assistance Program is to assist the citizens of North Carolina by managing and supervising the safe collection and lawful disposal of banned, out-dated, or unwanted pesticides. Find plastic pesticide container recycling in your area. Learn more about information on common household hazardous waste with disposal information and alternatives.

What do I need to know before I construct a pond on my property?

First, you will need to check with the DEQ environmental assistance coordinator in your area to verify if there are any needed permits. Common permits needed for pond construction range from erosion control plan approvals to 401 certifications. The following website will help you determine what you need to do before, during and after the construction of your pond, including pond fisheries management, aquatic weed control and others:

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has launched an online public records request form, making it easier for the public to access agency records. The new form is part of DEQ efforts to improve efficiency, tracking and fulfillment of requests by DEQ staff.

As part of DEQ’s commitment to transparency, the new public records request system provides a single place for requesting public records from any Division or regional office, including documents, emails, and Phase 1 reports. Members of the public, organizations, and the press can request public records using the new form on the DEQ website.

Many of DEQ’s public records are already available online, including permits, compliance documents, and environmental documents. DEQ’s ArcGIS resources, like the Community Mapping System, include links to permits and associated documents for most regulated facilities.

For a complete list of DEQ’s online public records and ArcGIS resources, visit DEQ’s Online Public Records page.

In some cases a physical file review may be necessary and an appointment is required for physical file review. For access to file rooms and appointment times in the NCDEQ please contact the appropriate division.

Fees may be charged for copies of records. To learn more about public records, please visit the N.C. Department of Justice's website.

Where are the department's regional offices and how do I contact them?

The department has seven regional offices throughout the state. These offices serve the surrounding counties. Staff in these offices typically inspect facilities and investigate complaints. Determine which regional office serves your area.

To Report Oil or Chemical Spill: State Emergency Operations Center - 1-800-858-0368

What are SARA Title III, EPCRA and TIER II?

SARA (Superfund Amendment and Reauthorization Act) Title III, known as the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA), requires each state to have a State Emergency Response Commission (SERC) to direct and manage the hazardous materials contingency planning effort required of industries and communities. In addition to state and local planning requirements, EPCRA included Section 312, which requires facilities that use or store a hazardous chemical above a threshold quantity to submit annually their chemical inventory information (Tier II) to off-site officials on or before March 1. In North Carolina, the Department of Public Safety, Emergency Management Division, administers this federal program. Telephone: (919) 825-2277. Learn more

Who do I contact when sediment runs off a construction site?

Some local governments have their own sediment and erosion control programs. To determine if your area has such a program, check the "Local Programs" information at the following website: /about/divisions/energy-mineral-land-resources/energy-mineral-land-permits/erosion-sediment-control. If your area does not have a local program, then contact the appropriate DEQ Regional Office that serves your area or use the Division of Energy, Mineral and Land Resources toll-free hotline, 1-866-STOPMUD.

How can I find out if a shellfish area is opened or closed?

The Shellfish Sanitation and Recreational Water Quality Section in the Division of Marine Fisheries samples shellfish waters and, when needed, recommends closure or opening of these waters. Shellfish waters are closed or opened by proclamations issued through the Division of Marine Fisheries. The Shellfish Sanitation Section also has electronic maps online showing which shellfish areas are permanently opened or closed. To find out which areas are temporarily closed or opened, call the section's central office at (252) 726-6827 or (800) 682-2632. Questions can be directed to and closure maps can be obtained by calling the section's central office phone number above. Learn more about Polluted Area Proclamations. Learn more, Shellfish Closure Maps.

What is SPCC?

It stands for Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasures. The purpose of the program, which is operated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is to prevent the discharge of all kinds of oil into the waters of the United States. To prevent oil spills, the U.S. EPA requires owners/operators of certain oil storage facilities to prepare and implement SPCC Plans. North Carolina does not have any more stringent requirements than those required by the federal government. For more information about this federal program, check the following to learn more. The phone number for the U.S. EPA SPCC contact for Region IV in Atlanta is (404) 562-8752.

What is the 24-hour emergency response number for reporting spills?

The 24-hour emergency response number is (800) 858-0368.

What quantities of hazardous substances and petroleum must be reported?

The quantities and reporting times vary. The quantities of hazardous substances are available at the following Web site: Hazardous substances are reportable only if the spill exceeds the reportable quantity.

The reporting requirements for petroleum products are in North Carolina's Oil Pollution and Hazardous Substances Control Act of 1978, §143-215.85(a and b).

IF the petroleum discharged, released or spilled:

is 25 gallons or more,
causes a sheen on nearby surface water,
is 100 feet or less from surface water body,

THEN the person owning or having control over the oil must immediately take measures to collect and remove the discharge, and report the discharge to NCDEQ within 24 hours of discharge, and begin to restore area affected by discharge.

IF the petroleum discharged, released or spilled:

Is less than 25 gallons, does not cause a sheen on nearby surface water, and is more than 100 feet from surface water bodies,

THEN the person who owns or has control over the oil must immediately take measures to collect and remove the discharge. If it cannot be cleaned up within 24 hours of the discharge or causes a sheen on nearby surface water, the person must immediately notify the NCDEQ

If the petroleum released or spilled in any circumstances does not meet one of the above requirements, or is not permitted by GS 143-215.1, or it is not pursuant to a rule adopted by the Environmental Management Commission or, a regulation of USEPA,  it must be reported to NCDEQ immediately . Learn more and review the Oil Pollution and Hazardous Substances Control Act of 1978. The act starts at Article 21A, §143-215.75.

What is stormwater runoff?

It is water from rain or melting snow that "runs off" across the land rather than being absorbed into the ground. As this water flows toward the nearest low spot such as a stream, river, or other body of water, it picks up pollutants such as pesticides, fertilizers, oil, pet waste, leaves and more that can harm our water and environment. The following website has a wealth of information about stormwater runoff, issues, management and our role in reducing it: /about/divisions/energy-mineral-and-land-resources/stormwater.

What can I do about the stormwater that now flows into my yard from the new development?

New development sometimes causes stormwater to flow rather than be absorbed into the ground. This occurs when trees and plants are removed and/or construction and paving create impervious surfaces. The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality, Division of Energy, Mineral and Land Resources, has regulations that address this concern in specific areas of the state. If you live in one of these specific areas or your county or municipality has local stormwater ordinances, you may have some recourse for protecting your property. However, if you do not fall within either of these categories, your only other option may be to take private legal action. View the following Stormwater Permitting Interactive Viewer to determine the permitting authority.

How can I tell if an area that I frequent is under a swimming advisory?

Coastal recreational swimming season for sampling and advisories is April 1 through October 1. The N.C. Recreational Water Quality Program has a web site that, during the coastal recreational swimming season, lists areas currently under advisory as well as when the advisory for an area is rescinded. Visit the program's website.

Where do I get a septic tank permit?

The environmental health staff in your county health department will check your property to determine if it is suitable for a septic tank. For a listing of county health departments and their environmental health staff, check the following website:

Where do I report a failed septic tank?

Contact the environmental health staff in your county health department. See the above web link for a listing.

Where can I get information about home heating oil tanks?

The following website has information about tank removal, contamination, cleanup and more: /about/divisions/waste-management/underground-storage-tanks-section

Who regulates underground storage tanks?

The Underground Storage Tank (UST) Section in NCDEQ regulates most underground storage tanks, with the exception of home heating oil tanks. For information about regulations, technical assistance, trust funds, corrective action, enforcement and more, go to the following website: /about/divisions/waste-management/underground-storage-tanks-section.

What about above ground storage tanks?

Aboveground storage tanks (AST) are only required to be registered with the NCDEQ -- UST Section, if they meet the definition of an oil terminal facility. If an AST has a release, then the release must be reported to the appropriate NCDEQ UST Section regional office and must be cleaned up as required by the state. For more information about above ground storage tanks and building and fire code requirements, check the following website: /about/divisions/waste-management/underground-storage-tanks-section/ast-program. If the tank is used to store chemicals, then you may need to contact SARA Right to Know staff in the N.C. Department of Public Safety at (919) 733-3899.