Category Archives: Air Quality

Understanding Ground-level Ozone Forecasts

South Carolina has had two forecasted Code Orange Ozone Action Days since Ground-level Ozone forecasting season began on April 1st of this year. A Code Orange Ozone Action Day means that atmospheric conditions will likely produce concentrations of ground level ozone air pollution that may be unhealthy for sensitive groups, which includes people with lung disease, older adults, and children.   

Ozone typically forms with highest concentrations on warm, hot, sunny days with light wind speeds, which allows more of the pollutant to form and accumulate. Forecasting ground-level ozone concentrations is an educated prediction based on certain weather conditions and emissions. DHEC has a team of experienced meteorologists on staff that review weather and air quality information daily to produce a next-day ozone forecast, which is posted on DHEC’s own ozone website and U.S. EPA’s AIRNow website. 

Knowing the Ground-level Ozone Forecast ahead of time allows you to make plans and adjust your schedule and activities for the next day. Sensitive groups should reduce prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion, take more breaks, and do less intense activities, especially during afternoon and early evening hours when ozone concentrations are typically highest. 

Knowing the Ground-level Ozone Forecastahead of time also allows you to make informed decisions that can help reduce air pollution and decrease ground-level ozone by:    

  1. Refueling your car after 6:00 PM and don’t top off your tank  
  2. Using electric powered lawn equipment  
  3. Avoiding driving during peak traffic hours  
  4. Combining trips when you drive  
  5. Telecommuting (work from home) if possible
  6. Taking your lunch to work  

Sign up to receive forecasts via emails, texts or tweets (customized to fit your style) using EPA’s free EnviroFlash service at www.enviroflash.info.  
For additional information about ozone and air quality, click here.   

RECAP: DHEC Lab Staff highlighted during Medical Laboratory Professionals Week

Last week, April 18-24 was Medical Laboratory Professionals Week, and Friday, April 23, was World Lab Day. 

Though the Public Health Laboratory (PHL) is the most well-known, DHEC also observed the week by highlighting a couple other of our program areas with lab professionals, Healthcare Quality and Environmental Affairs.

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January is National Radon Action Month

January is National Radon Action Month, and DHEC is encouraging all South Carolinians to test their homes for radon.

Radon is a cancer causing, radioactive gas that you cannot see, smell, or taste, and is responsible for more than 21,000 deaths in the U.S. each year.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. and the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. Smokers who are exposed to radon have an even higher risk of lung cancer.

Nearly one out of every 15 homes in the U.S. is estimated to have elevated radon levels. Any home can have a radon gas problem. The only way to determine if your home is trapping radon is to test.

Each year, the South Carolina Radon Program provides a limited number of radon test kits to homeowners free of charge. Request your free home test kit at www.scdhec.gov/radon.

Homes can be modified to reduce radon levels, and new homes can be built with radon-resistant features. South Carolina has nationally certified radon professionals who can measure radon and fix homes with elevated radon. Find a certified mitigation specialist.

Governor’s Proclamation

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster issued an official proclamation recognizing January 2020 as Radon Action Month.

Registration Now Open for the 13th Annual Environmental Assistance Conference on November 19, 2019

DHEC’s Office of Environmental Affairs will host the 13th Annual Environmental Assistance Conference on Tuesday, November 19, from 9 AM to 4 PM at the Cooperative Conference Center (169 Laurelhurst Ave, Columbia, SC).  This year’s theme is Compliance Assistance and Customer Service: DHEC and Industry Working Together.  The agenda will include regulatory compliance and permitting topics, such as hazardous waste, dams, stormwater, air quality, solid waste and legislative updates.

Additionally, the conference will feature up to 30 local businesses and organizations in our exhibitor showcase. DHEC staff will also be available to answer any technical or permitting questions.

“DHEC’s annual Environmental Assistance Conference unites environmental regulators with DHEC staff and offers an exciting opportunity for continued learning and instruction on important topics relevant to our community and partners,” said Myra Reece, DHEC’s director of Environmental Affairs.  “DHEC strives to meet our agency values of pursing excellence, innovation, service and teamwork. This conference is just one example of how DHEC’s dedicated Environmental Affairs team exemplifies our agency’s values by creating a learning and networking environment between the regulated community and our staff year after year.”

Deadline to register is Sunday, November 10.  Registration for both attendees and exhibitors is on a first come, first serve basis. Space is available for up to 30 exhibitors and approximately 250 attendees. The attendee fee is $45 per person. The exhibitor fee is $300 per table and includes registration for two attendees. All registrations include access to the exhibitor room, all presentations, a light breakfast and lunch.

For conference updates and to register for the conference, please visit our website at www.scdhec.gov/environment/eac.  Questions about the conference or registration can be directed to Rebecca Sproles at sprolemr@dhec.sc.gov or 803-898-3139. You don’t want to miss this event!

 

How Recycling Impacts South Carolina

According to the 2018 South Carolina Health Assessment, South Carolinians generate approximately 4.2 million tons of household trash and garbage annually. The South Carolina Solid Waste Policy and Management Act outlines the regulatory framework for insuring proper location, design, construction, operation and closure of solid waste facilities and requires maintenance of a state solid waste management plan.  The act also sets waste reduction and recycling goals for the state.

Why should we recycle?

Recycling is not mandatory, so why should we care?  According to www.recyclemoresc.org,

  • Recycling helps protect the environment. It conserves resources, prevents pollution by reducing the need to collect raw materials to make new products and lessens the need to build landfills.
  • Recycling helps our state’s economy. South Carolina has about 500 recycling businesses that provide more than 22,000 jobs.
  • Recycling saves energy. Manufacturing products from recycled materials use far less energy than creating the same product from raw material.

Check out the top 10 reasons why we should recycle.  Visit our website for places to recycle in your community.