Guide Filing environmental complaints

In Massachusetts, MassDEP works with Boards of Health, Fire Departments, MassDOT, DPH and other state and local partners to address air pollution complaints involving dust, noise, odor, smoke, and vehicle idling, emissions and pollution. To reach the correct agency for filing a complaint, please select the topic below that best describes your issue.

Asbestos

Who should I contact?

Contact MassDEP to file a complaint about the improper removal or handling of asbestos.

Burning (outdoors and indoors)

In Massachusetts, the local Fire Department and the local Board of Health serve as the primary responders for complaints and issues related to burning. 

Outdoor burning of any material

Contact your local Fire Department for questions or concerns on the outdoor burning of any material, including both the open burning of vegetation as well the outdoor burning of prohibited materials.

Indoor burning of prohibited materials

Contact Your Local Board of Health for questions or concerns on suspected indoor burning of prohibited materials such as construction debris, garbage or other wastes. 

Key Actions for Burning (outdoors and indoors)

Construction or Sand and Gravel Operations

In Massachusetts, Boards of Health (BOH) work closely with MassDEP to address environmental and public health complaints. The Board of Health is the primary responder for dust, noise, odor, smoke, vehicle idling and air pollution complaints concerning activities at residences and at most local businesses. MassDEP is the primary responder for outdoor air pollution complaints involving large commercial, industrial, manufacturing and power plants.

Who should I contact?

Contact your local Board of Health for complaints on construction sites and/or sand and gravel operations.

Dumping or Improper Disposal / Storage

Who should I contact?

Contact MassDEP to file a complaint about dumping or the improper disposal or storage of waste, including waste oil.

Dust or Odor Issues

In Massachusetts, Boards of Health (BOH) work closely with MassDEP to address environmental and public health complaints. The Board of Health is the primary responder for dust, noise, odor, smoke, vehicle idling and air pollution complaints concerning activities at residences and at most local businesses. MassDEP is the primary responder for outdoor air pollution complaints involving large commercial, industrial, manufacturing and power plants.

Who should I contact?

Contact your local Board of Health for dust, noise, odor, smoke, vehicle idling and air pollution complaints concerning activities at residences and at most local businesses.

Farms and Animal Operations

In Massachusetts, the Department of Agricultural Resources  supports, regulates and enhances the rich diversity of the Commonwealth’s agricultural community to promote economically and environmentally sound food safety and animal health measures, and to fulfill agriculture’s role in energy conservation and production.

Who should I contact?

Contact the MA Department of Agricultural Resources for complaints concerning farms and animal operations.

Heaters or Heating Equipment

Who should I contact?

Contact your local Board of Health for complaints on wood smoke, outdoor wood fired boilers, heating equipment and generators at residences, restaurants, campgrounds or commercial facilities. 

Idling or Smoky Vehicles

In Massachusetts, local Police Departments and Boards of Health (BOH) work closely with MassDEP to address environmental and public health complaints about smoky  and idling vehicles.

The Police Department is the primary responder for all smoky vehicle complaints while the local Board of Health is the primary responder for vehicle idling concerns in most towns.

In some larger communities, like Boston, dedicated units address idling complaints and enforce the anti-idling law.

Idling Vehicles

Contact your local Board of Health for complaints about idling cars, trucks, buses or trains.

In Boston: 

Contact the Air Pollution Control Commission (APCC)

Smoky Vehicles

Contact your local Police Department for complaints about smoky vehicles.

See Also:

Massachusetts Vehicle Check
Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles

Additional Resources for Idling or Smoky Vehicles

Illegal operations, activities or false reports

Who should I contact?

Contact MassDEP to file a complaint or report illegal operations, business activities, false reports or misleading information

Indoor Air Quality

In Massachusetts, local Boards of Health (BOH) work with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) to address environmental and public health complaints related to indoor air quality. 

Local Boards of Health 

Contact your local Board of Health as the primary responder for most indoor air quality complaints. The BOHs are charged with ensuring that homes meet the standards set forth in the State Sanitary Code Chapter II, 105 CMR 410.000, Minimum Standards of Fitness for Human Habitation. In commercial or public buildings, the BOH has the authority to investigate public nuisances M.G.L. c. 111 sec. 142.

MA Department of Public Health Indoor Air Quality Program

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health Indoor Air Quality Program provides extensive information on indoor air quality concerns. DPH has the statutory responsibility to "conduct sanitary investigations and investigations as to the cause of disease…and shall advise the government concerning the location and other sanitary conditions of any public institution" (MGL c. 111 sec. 5).

Additional Resources for Indoor Air Quality

Landfills and Recycling

In Massachusetts, MassDEP regulates and responds to complaints regarding solid waste landfills, transfer stations, recycling and compost operations.

Who should I contact?

Contact MassDEP to file a complaint about landfills or recycling operations.  

Manufacturing and Power Plants

Who should I contact?

Contact MassDEP to file a complaint on manufacturing facilities, power plants or other regulated sources of air emissions. 

Noise Disturbances

In Massachusetts, the local Board of Health is the primary responder for most noise disturbances in a community and works closely with both MassDEP and with local police departments to ensure that noise complaints are properly addressed.

Who should I contact?

Contact your local Board of Health for noise disturbances from business operations and activities, from campgrounds and other outdoor venues and from heavy equipment such as heating and ventilation systems, air conditioners, other rooftop machinery, wind turbines and construction. 

Contact your local Police Department for disorderly conduct / disturbing the peace complaints and for noise disturbances from recreational vehicles such as dirt bikes and ATVs.

Pollution / Discharges to Water or Ground

Who should I contact?

Contact MassDEP to file a complaint about pollution or improper discharge of waste to the water or to the ground.

 

Quarries and Mines (Blasting Activities)

In Massachusetts, the Department of Fire Services, the Division of Fire Safety issues Blasting Certificates of Competency and Explosives Users Certificates to blasters and blasting companies. These certificates document that the blaster is competent to conduct blasting operations, and that the company has shown evidence of both bonding and the required insurance.

Local fire departments may then issue a Permit to Blast to blasters and blasting companies who have these documents, have done all the correct planning and met all regulatory requirements (see 527 CMR 1.00). Local fire departments will not issue a blasting permit without all these conditions being met. 

Who should I contact?

Contact your local Fire Department for complaints concerning blasting activities at quarries/mines.

Additional Resources for Quarries and Mines (Blasting Activities)

Rubble Operations

In  Massachusetts, MassDEP addresses complaints regarding asphalt, brick and concrete crushing and recycling activities. 

Who should I contact?

Contact MassDEP to file a complaint about asphalt, brick and concrete crushing and recycling activities. 

Septic systems / discharge of sewage / Title 5 issues

Who should I contact?

Contact MassDEP to file a complaint about septic systems, the discharge of sewage or other Title 5 related issues.

Small Business Operations

In Massachusetts, the local Board of Health is the primary responder for dust, noise, odor, smoke, vehicle idling and air pollution complaints concerning activities at residences and at most local small businesses. MassDEP is the primary responder for outdoor air pollution complaints involving large commercial, industrial, manufacturing and power plants.

Who should I contact?

Contact your local Board of Health for noise, dust, odor or pollution complaints about autobody shops, refinishers, painters, spray booths or other small businesses in your community. 

 

State Highways, Traffic, Noise Barriers

In Massachusetts, the Department of Transportation is the primary responder for citizen complaints concerning state highways, traffic noise and noise barriers. Local Departments of Public Works (DPWs) are the primary responders for issues related to local streets and roadways.

Who should I contact?

Contact the Massachusetts Department of Transportation for complaints concerning state highways, traffic noise and noise barriers.

Key Actions for State Highways, Traffic, Noise Barriers

Town Services (Street repair, public works, sanitation)

In Massachusetts' cities and towns, the local Department of Public Works (DPW) and the local Board of Health (BOH) work together to address environmental and public health complaints about town services and operations that are essential to a neighborhood's quality of life, such as street sweeping and repair, snow removal, sanitation, sewer repair and maintenance and garbage pickup and disposal.

Who should I contact?

Contact your local DPW for complaints about your town's services. Many Massachusetts towns have dedicated DPW staff to assist with citizen issues and concerns. 

In addition, your local Board of Health may also be able to address concerns relative to your town's services and operations.  

Waste Sites

Who should I contact?

Contact MassDEP to file a complaint or report about suspicious activities at known or suspected waste sites.

Wetlands

Who should I contact?

Contact MassDEP to file a complaint or report an issue with activities in wetlands, including alterations to the wetland. 

Help - I don't see my isssue

Additional State Assistance

Areas of Critical Environmental Concern: Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation at 617-626-1394

Asbestos Contractor Licensing: Massachusetts Division of Occupational Safety at 617-626-6960

Boat, Snowmobile, ATV Registrations: Environmental Police at 617-626-1610

Citizen's Hotline/Information Service: Secretary of State's Office at 800 392-6090

Coastal Issues: Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) at 617-626-1200

Dam Safety: Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation at 508-792-7716 ext. 600

Dredging: Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR oversees MassDEP-licensed work) at 617-626-1250

Electromagnetic Fields: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency at 888-372-7341

Environmental Impact Reports: Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act Office at 617-626-1031 or U.S. Environmental Protection Agency at 888-372-7341

Environmental Police Dispatch: Environmental Police at 800-632-8075

Fish Kills: Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game at 508-389-6330 during working hours; 800-632-8075 nights/weekends

Flood Control Planning: Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation at 617-626-1406

Flood Control Information: Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency at 508-820-2000

Forests and Parks: Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation at 617-626-1250

Freon: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency at 800-296-1996 or 617-565-3220

Hunting, Fishing: Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game at 508-389-6300

Indoor Air Pollution: Department of Public Health at 617-624-5757

Lead Poisoning: Massachusetts Department of Public Health at 617-624-5757

Lead Paint Abatement: Massachusetts Division of Occupational Safety at 617-626-6960

Medical/Infectious Waste: Massachusetts Department of Public Health at 617-727-2660

Mosquito Control: State Reclamation and Mosquito Control Board at 617-626-1723

Occupational Health, Hygiene & Safety: Massachusetts Division of Occupational Safety at 617-626-6945 or US Occupational Safety & Health Administration at 617-565-9860

Open Space/Land Acquisition: Executive Office of Environmental Affairs at 617-626-1250

Pesticides: Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources at 617-626-1776

Radiation Control: Massachusetts Department of Public Health at 617-242-3035

Rare & Endangered Species: Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game at 508-389-6360

Riverways Planning: Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game at 617-626-1540

Watershed Management: Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation at 617-626-1379

Wildlife Management: Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game at 508-759-3406

Worker Right-To-Know: Massachusetts Division of Occupational Safety at 617-969-7177

Local Assistance

Animal or Pest Problems: Animal Control Officer

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning (CO): Fire Dept.

Chemical Spills: Fire Dept. 
(See also: Report an Environmental Emergency)

Composting: Public Works Dept.

Docks & Moorings: Local Harbormaster

Drinking Water: Public Works Dept., Water/Sewer Dept. or Board of Health

Flood Plains: Conservation Commission or Conservation Agent

Hazardous Material Spills: Fire Dept.
(See also: Report an Environmental Emergency)

Household Hazardous Waste: Board of Health or Health Agent

Landfill: Board of Health, Health Agent or Public Works Dept.

Medical Waste: Board of Health or Health Agent

Noise Complaints: Board of Health, Health Agent or Police Dept.

Odor Complaints: Board of Health or Health Agent

Oil Spills: Fire Dept. 
(See also: Report an Environmental Emergency)

Open Burning Permits: Fire Dept.

Open Space: Conservation Commission or Conservation Agent

Private Wells: Board of Health or Health Agent

Recycling: Public Works Dept.

Right-To-Know: Fire Dept., Board of Health, or Health Agent

Septic Systems: Board of Health or Health Agent

Sewers: Public Works Dept. or Water/Sewer Dept.

Transfer Stations: Board of Health, Health Agent, or Public Works Dept.

Underground Storage Tanks: Fire Dept. (See also: Report an Environmental Emergency)

Wastewater Treatment: Public Works Dept. or Water/Sewer Dept.

Waterfront Development: Conservation Commission or Conservation Agent

Wetlands: Conservation Commission or Conservation Agent

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