Author Archives: SC DHEC

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

Saturday, April 28, is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day , which aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse and medications.

A number of agencies, pharmacies, organizations and others across South Carolina are joining the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to give the public its 15th opportunity since 2010 to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs. The national observance is held twice a year.

Find a location near you by visiting the DEA Diversion website and bring your pills for disposal.  You can drop off unused prescription drugs at between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday. (The DEA cannot accept liquids or needles or sharps, only pills or patches.)  The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.

Last October, Americans set a record when they turned in a little more than 456 tons (over 912,000 pounds) of prescription drugs at more than 5,300 sites operated by the DEA and more than 4,200 of its state and local law enforcement partners.  Overall, in its 14 previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners have taken in over 9 million pounds—more than 4,500 tons—of prescription drugs.

This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue.  Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs.  Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—both pose potential safety and health hazards.

For more information about the disposal of prescription drugs or about the April 28 Take Back Day event, go to the DEA Diversion website.

DHEC in the News: Rooftop air pollution sensors, National Health Security Preparedness Index, Isle of Palms renourishment project

Here’s a look at health and environmental news from around South Carolina.

Rooftop sensors on U.S. embassies are warning the world about ‘crazy bad’ air pollution

In October 2010, as heavy smog hung over Beijing, the U.S. embassy’s Twitter feed said its rooftop pollution sensor had detected “crazy bad” levels of hazardous microparticles. So-called PM2.5 had shot up to about 550 micrograms per cubic meter—a level to which programmers had given the sardonic label because they thought it would never be reached. …

By now, rooftop sensors like those that drew attention to Beijing’s pollution sprout from 26 diplomatic posts in 16 countries. Their immediate goal is to protect the health of U.S. diplomats. But they are raising concerns about air pollution from Sarajevo to New Delhi and supplying data to research efforts. The “little-air-monitor-that-could,” as physicist and former U.S. diplomat David Roberts calls it, has become a worldwide watchdog. …

Findings are radiating into other disciplines. During a stint at the U.S. consulate in São Paulo, Brazil, Tommy Flynn, a program manager with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, is providing technical assistance on the monitors.

General Interest

Is the U.S. Prepared for a Public Health Emergency?

The National Health Security Preparedness Index shows that overall, the United States’ day-to-day readiness for managing a public health crisis last year improved by 11 percent since the index’s first iteration in 2013, scoring a 7.1 on a 10-point scale. Thirty-eight states and the District of Columbia also boosted their overall health security in the last year, with Maryland scoring an 8.0 to outpace all other states.

“Threats to America’s health security are on the rise, but so is our nation’s preparedness to deal with these emergencies,” Dr. Alonzo Plough, chief science officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, said in a press release. “The Index shows how prepared public and private stakeholders are to tackle health security challenges and sheds light on areas for improvement.”

Isle of Palms gets $1.3 million federal grant to restore sand taken by Tropical Storm Irma

The sand that Tropical Storm Irma washed away from Isle of Palms has been restored, and the federal government just kicked in $1.3 million to help foot the bill.

The city had been working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency since the storm struck late last year, and the city hoped to save money by piggybacking off of earlier renourishment work.

DHEC in the News: Champions of the Environment, opioids, Earth Day

Here’s a look at health and environmental news from around South Carolina.

Champions of the Environment

In its 25th year, the Champions of the Environment program has granted over $380,000 to 320 school groups across the state, and made a significant impact in the lives of children and the environment.

General Interest

Americans are Filling Fewer Opioid Prescriptions

(TRENTON, N.J.) — New data show that the number of prescriptions for opioid painkillers filled in the U.S. fell dramatically last year. They showed their biggest drop in 25 years.

The decline comes amid increasing legal restrictions and public awareness of the dangers of addiction.

Students at Lakewood Elementary celebrate Earth Day

Horry County, S.C. (WPDE) — It’s never too early to start learning about our planet, and that’s exactly what students at Lakewood Elementary School did Saturday.

Hundreds of students gathered with their outdoor inquiry teacher, Marie Valentine, for the celebration.

From Other Blogs: Falls in construction, Public Health Preparedness and Response National Snapshot, communities near forests & more

A collection of health and environmental posts from other governmental blogs.Construction

5th Annual National Stand Down to Prevent Falls in Construction

Falls remain the leading cause of death in construction. In 2016, there were 370 fall fatalities out of 991 total fatalities in construction. There were more fatal injuries in construction than any other industry in the United States in 2015, accounting for 20% of the nation’s 4,836 work-related deaths that year. — From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) NIOSH Science blog

Moving the Dial on Preparedness: CDC’s 2018 National Snapshot

Every year, CDC’s Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response publishessnapshot_thumb_index_2018 the Public Health Preparedness and Response National Snapshot, an annual report that highlights the work of CDC and our partners. No matter the type, size, or cause of a public health emergency, we must work together to respond to the best of our ability. — From the CDC’s Public Health Matters blog

Where Your Front Door Meets the Forest

More and more communities are now near or within forests. In fact the area where unoccupied land and human development meet has a name and it’s called the Wildland Urban Interface, or WUI.

The WUI is the most challenging area of the forest for wildland firefighters to suppress fire. Here fire transitions from trees and brush to homes and vehicles. This transition creates increased risks and costs for all involved. — From the US Department of Agriculture blog

Have it Your Way: Exploring Data on the National Environmental Public Health Tracking Network

“Have it your way.” Remember that old marketing promise from a fast food chain? In this case, rather than a hamburger, the phrase is in reference to the treasure trove of environmental and health data on CDC’s Environmental Public Health Tracking Network (Tracking Network).

There are currently 450 environment and health measures accessible in a variety of ways…which brings us back to having it your way.

As the Tracking Network has grown over the years, so has the recognition that users require a variety of ways to ask for and consume the information they are seeking from the Tracking Network.  In the same way that not everyone likes mayo and tomatoes on their hamburger, not everyone who is trying to learn about the environmental health of their community wants to access and use Tracking data in the same way. — From the CDC’s Your Health — Your Environment blog

DHEC in the News: Recycling e-waste, a new emergency department, preventing Hepatitis C

Here’s a look at health and environmental news from around South Carolina.

Keep Aiken Green: Know how to recycle e-waste in Aiken County

After birthdays and holidays, once new televisions, new PS4s, new Xbox Ones, new computers, new sound systems and more settle in, the old ones tend to be done away with.

But where those unwanted electronics actually go, according to the state health and environment department, is of utmost importance.

 Bluffton residents will soon have a shorter drive to an emergency room

In response to the Hardeeville area’s budding population, Coastal Carolina Hospital is moving forward with a plan to build a $15 million freestanding emergency department.

The proposed 10,000-square-foot facility will operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and will feature 12 private treatment areas, including one trauma treatment room.

General Interest

CDC says addiction treatment, syringe service programs are key in preventing spread of Hep C

During an infectious disease prevention webcast Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the key to preventing the spread of hepatitis C is greater access to prevention services.

The CDC said access to safe injection equipment and treatment for drug addiction can lower transmission risks by more than 70 percent.