Category Archives: Community Health

DHEC in the News: Saluda River swim advisory, Mt. Pleasant water, Briarcliffe Acres

Here’s a look at health and environmental news from around the state.

Saluda River bacteria levels decrease; advisory still in place
(Columbia, SC – WACH) The amount of bacteria in the Saluda River has decreased, but a swim advisory will remain in place until further notice.

The Department of Health and Environmental Control issued the advisory on Sunday night, a warning that should be taken seriously.

According to Robert Yanity from DHEC, a discharge from a nearby Carolina Water Services treatment plant caused bacteria levels to rise. A test yielded shocking results.

“They’re required to meet that 349 level I believe it is – as far as their E. coli marker and they were over that about 900 or so,” Yanity says.

The levels–980.4–are almost three times to state limit. Because of this, Yanity advises people to take caution before getting into the water.

Community Frustrated Over Swimming Advisory “Deja Vu”

The Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is warning people not to swim in the water at Saluda Shoals Park after finding high levels of bacteria in that section of the Saluda River.

“We’ve got a lot of people that come out here, fishermen swimmers kayakers, we’re all concerned about the quality of our water,” said fisherman Michael Frank.

Bill Stangler, the Congaree Riverkeeper, says he was frustrated when he got the call about more bacteria polluting the river.

“Here we go again, deja vu,” Stangler said. “It’s really a bad place for this to be happening, I mean we’re standing between a canoe/kayak launch, a boat ramp, and another boat ramp across the river. This is where people come to get in the river.”

DHEC says they found “upset conditions” at the Carolina Water Service’s Friarsgate plant towards the end of last week that could have contributed to the bacteria. They also say there were other factors.

“We did see an abundance of rain, so that could have contributed to the higher levels of bacteria that was coming into the water so we can’t say it was all attributed to CWS,” said Robert Yanity with DHEC.

Yanity advises people not to ingest the water or go in with open wounds.

Water Quality Concerns Surrounding Pesticides and Cancer

(Mt. Pleasant, SC – Moultrie News) Approximately two weeks ago, a group of mothers expressed their concerns on social media regarding the number of young males in a general area of Mount Pleasant (Park West, Dunes West, and Rivertowne) who have been diagnosed with brain tumors. During social media conversations and interviews with media, some raised the question of water being a contributing factor. Following this, some residents purchased at-home water testing kits, and some interpreted their results as positive for pesticides.

After learning about customer concerns, Mount Pleasant Waterworks (MPW) addressed the media and invited customers to join in a conversation regarding MPW’s water quality. On Monday, July 10th, MPW held a community meeting to listen to and discuss concerns with customers. The media was invited to attend and MPW posted full video of this meeting on social media and our website.

Q. Does Mount Pleasant Waterworks test for pesticides?

Yes, both water sources are tested for pesticides. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control set testing guidelines and schedules for pesticides. Mount Pleasant Waterworks’ water sources include groundwater from the Middendorf Aquifer and surface water purchased from Charleston Water System (CWS). EPA and SCDHEC utilize historical testing data to determine the scheduling parameters for pesticides in each water source. Due to consistent non-detection in our groundwater source, DHEC tests for pesticides every three years. Due to regulations related to surface water, DHEC tests the purchased surface water on an annual basis.

Their waste polluted the ocean surf 6 years, now it’s costing them to flush the toilet

It’s been six years since property owners in Briarcliffe Acres were first warned their septic tanks were to blame for sporadically high fecal bacteria readings in the Atlantic Ocean surf.

It’s taken a water quality study, construction of a needed sewer system by neighboring Myrtle Beach and a years-long battle by Briarcliffe Acres’ officials to convince those homeowners to pay the steep sewer system fees and get rid of the septic tanks.

The state Department of Health and Environmental Control has a a long-term swimming advisory posted at Briarcliffe Acres. The warning sign advises against swimming near swashes after heavy rains, when contamination is most likely.

There has been no indication whether state health officials will eliminate the long-term swimming advisory once all property owners are on the sewer system.

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DHEC in the News: HIV treatment, swim advisories, WIC in Orangeburg

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

Stigma preventing thousands with HIV from seeking treatment in SC

(Greenwood, SC – Index Journal) With modern treatment, HIV is no longer a death sentence, but McLendon said the shame surrounding the virus is more deadly than the disease itself. As of 2015, 18,340 people in South Carolina had been diagnosed with HIV, but about 6,235 of them had not received any form of treatment, according to the state Department of Health and Environmental Control. [Elizabeth] McLendon said because many people live with the virus without knowing it or are never formally diagnosed, the number of people not receiving treatment is likely higher. Particularly in rural areas, such as Greenwood County — where there were about 82 people diagnosed with HIV as of 2014, according to AIDS VU — McLendon said the actual number of infected people is likely much larger.

Swim advisory issued for Saluda River because of sewage discharge

(Lexington County, SC – The State) An official swim advisory was issued Sunday, after water quality tests from portions of the Saluda River, near Saluda Shoals Park, showed high levels of bacteria, the Congaree Riverkeeper said Sunday.

The state standard for bacteria is 349, and the sample taken from the river Saturday registered 980.4, Congaree Riverkeeper Bill Stangler said. Such levels could make swimmers ill.

A wastewater discharge from the Friarsgate Wastewater Treatment facility late last week resulted in the increased bacteria level in the water, the riverkeeper said. State health officials had issued a caution to swimmers earlier in the weekend before a formal advisory was issued Sunday with results of water quality tests.

Sewage spill doesn’t stop summer fun at Catawba River

(Rock Hill, SC – The Herald) As of Saturday, Landsford Canal State Park, a popular recreational area in South Carolina about 45 miles south of Charlotte, had posted advisories against boating, wade fishing and swimming in the water, the Charlotte Observer reported. The advisories are posted at the entrance to the park as well as bathrooms and fence posts.

A notice was also posted at the Catawba Indian Nation landing, according to DHEC.

The department states: “DHEC has performed modeling which indicates that the spill should pass downstream of the Landsford Canal and Catawba Indian Reservation landings by Monday evening. Based on this information, we will be able to recommend removal of the notices Wednesday morning.”

An update on the Habersham boil water advisory

An advisory for Habersham residents to boil their water was lifted on Friday.

The precautionary advisory was issued on Thursday by the Beaufort Jasper Water and Sewer Authority and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, according to a BJWSA news release sent out late Friday afternoon. The groups announced on Friday that the latest water sample analyses showed the water in the area was free from bacteria and is safe to consume.

Head Start making impact; OCAB director seeking to enroll more children

(Orangeburg, SC – Times & Democrat) Head Start…participates in USDA’s “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” initiative, which provides increased access to foods grown from local farmers.

“We applied for those funds to actually purchase fresh fruits and vegetables (from local farmers) to feed the kids. And it’s more to it than that. Children will learn that corn doesn’t come in a can, but they actually learn how food is grown. It helps the local economy, too,” Wright said, noting that children actually participate in food preparation by planting seeds and watching fruits and vegetables grow in their classrooms.

Stroman said the state Department of Health and Environmental Control has implemented a nutrition initiative within the Head Start program. Children are given nutrition lessons and activities, some of which are sent home to parents.

“We also have a certified dietician and nutritionist that approves all of our menus so that they are aligned with the USDA requirements and good healthy eating patterns,” she said.

Stroman said the Head Start program is also partnering with the state DHEC’s WIC (Women, Infants and Children) office to have mobile units come out to its sites to make sure parents’ WIC certifications stay up to date.

DHEC in the News: West Nile Virus, Infant Sleep Safety, Mt. Pleasant Water, Assisted Living Facility

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

Hurricane Matthew continues to leave its mark on Beaufort County with West Nile cases

(Beaufort, SC – Island Packet) Just two human cases of the West Nile virus have ever been confirmed in Beaufort County — both within eight months of Hurricane Matthew.

Gregg Hunt, Beaufort County Mosquito Control director, said the timing of the events is no coincidence.

“Hurricane Matthew has played a major role in what we’re seeing,” Hunt said.

“After Hurricane Matthew, a lot of debris had fallen into standing water caused by the flooding and tidal waves,” he said. “And organic material decaying in the water produces an ideal breeding ground for that kind of mosquito (that carries West Nile) … That’s what set the tone after the hurricane.”

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According to the Department of Health and Environmental Control, about 1 in 5 people who are infected with the West Nile virus will develop a fever with other symptoms such as headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or rash. These people likely will have a full recovery, but fatigue and weakness could last for weeks or months.

Less than 1 percent of those infected will develop a serious neurological illness such as encephalitis or meningitis, according to the release.

Mom’s heartbreaking Facebook post raises awareness about safe sleeping conditions for babies

(Greenville, SC – FOX Carolina) According to DHEC, 194 babies died between 2009 and 2015 in South Carolina due of unsafe sleeping conditions, making this the third leading cause of infant deaths in the state.

“This cause of death is 100 percent preventable,” said Michelle Greco, manager of the Child Abuse Prevention Program at Greenville Health System.

Greco says babies under 1 year of age should sleep in a crib or bassinet with a fitted sheet and a firm mattress.

“Anytime that an infant under the first year of life is put down to sleep it needs to be treated the same,” said Greco, “They need to be alone with no other people, pets or objects.”

Mt. Pleasant residents ‘trying to have faith’ as they wait on results of DHEC water tests

(Mt. Pleasant, SC – ABC News4)  Several people living in Mount Pleasant want answers to concerns over water quality, and DHEC is now doing something about it.

Tuesday, workers were in Mount Pleasant testing water samples. It’s all part of an effort to find out if there is something in the water that could pose a health hazard.

DHEC samples were taken from three houses in the Mount Pleasant area. Officials with Mount Pleasant Waterworks said they chose those areas because of recent concerns.

Charleston assisted living facility where woman was killed by nearby alligator could face enforcement from DHEC

(Charleston, SC – Post and Courier) …Department of Health and Environmental Control investigators found [Brookdale Charleston] staff did not follow their own guidelines to conduct night checks on [Bonnie] Walker, a plan put in place when she had wandered off before. She had left the facility days prior “looking to go home,” and staff decided she needed to be housed in a memory care unit.

Now Brookdale Charleston could be facing enforcement action from DHEC. Representatives of the facility met with state officials June 13. A spokesman for DHEC said the two parties are “working on finalizing a consent order.” Brookdale declined to comment on the matter.

Such meetings are an opportunity for a facility to present any evidence of their own, said Pam Dukes, formerly a health regulator with DHEC. It would be “very unusual” for the negotiation not to end in enforcement, Dukes explained, which could mean a fine or a license suspension.

For more health and environmental news, check Live Healthy SC regularly.

DHEC in the News: Shem Creek, Folly Beach, Rabies, Seismic Testing

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

Keep local creeks clean

Charleston, SC (Post and Courier) – There could be as many as 18 failing septic tanks lining the Shem Creek watershed in Mount Pleasant, potentially leaking harmful fecal bacteria into one of the town’s most popular recreational attractions. And that could be the best case scenario, considering that the town’s latest information is 10 years old.

Sand from the Folly River would be used to fix Folly east end beaches under city plan

Folly Beach, SC (Post and Courier) – Folly Beach wants to use sand from the Folly River to restore beaches on the east end of the island where hurricanes Joaquin and Matthew did heavy damage.

The city has submitted an application for the work to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the state Department of Health and Environmental Control.

Some 18,000 dump truck loads of sand from the river would be placed on 26 acres of beach between 8th Street East and 14th Street East, according to the application.

Rabid Woodchuck found in Oconee Co.

Oconee County, SC (WSPA) – … one person has been referred to their healthcare provider for consultation after being potentially exposed to rabies by a woodchuck, also known as a groundhog or whistle pig, which tested positive for the disease.

Two woodchucks were observed fighting with one another before one turned on the victim, who was subsequently bitten and scratched. This exposure occurred near the intersection of Playground Road and Highway 28 South in Walhalla. One of the woodchucks was submitted to DHEC’s laboratory for testing on July 3 and was confirmed to have rabies the same day. The other woodchuck was not available for testing.

NOAA gives more time to comment on offshore seismic tests

Charleston, SC (Post and Courier) – Federal regulators are giving people two more weeks to comment on plans for permitting seismic testing offshore because of the deluge of comments already received. Drill-or-don’t-drill has become a controversy.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has received thousands of comments, a news release said.

More information about seismic surveying is available on our website.

School Wellness Success at Bamberg One’s Richard Carroll Elementary School

By Erica Ayers, MPH, CHES
School Health Coordinator
Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity

When was the last time you were in a school?  Has it been a few years or even a few decades?  If you visited a school today, like Richard Carroll Elementary School in Bamberg School District One, you might be pleasantly surprised by what you find:  a culture of wellness.

Healthy choices offered to students and staff

Schools have responded to the obesity epidemic by making the healthy choice the easy choice for students and staff during the school day.  For its part, Richard Carroll Elementary has been participating in the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s Healthy Schools Program and the Boeing Center for Children’s Wellness (BCCW) School Wellness Checklist.  For three school years, Richard Carroll Elementary has received training and technical assistance from Erica Ayers, the School Health Coordinator with the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity at DHEC, and Ellen Munson, the Program Coordinator at BCCW, to build healthy, sustainable, learning environments.

Karen Threatt, the Food Service Director in Bamberg School District One, has found value in participating in both programs.  “The Alliance for a Healthier Generation has helped us achieve our goals associated with Boeing’s School Wellness Checklist.  The Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program Action Plan made it easier for us to grow our wellness culture,” she said.

 To promote healthy eating, Richard Carroll Elementary took an innovative route by combining lessons learned from its days as a SC Farm to School site with techniques to reduce food waste.  Students started composting foods left over from breakfast and lunch to fertilize their three school gardens where they grow herbs, pumpkins, cabbage, cucumbers, watermelons, and more.  This provides students a unique opportunity to taste foods that they have grown themselves.

Access to equipment supports physical activity

BambergWellnessBallTo promote active living, Richard Carroll Elementary outfitted an Action-Based Learning Lab where all students have access to specialized equipment that integrates physical activities into learning motor skills, spatial ability, coordination, and social interaction.  The school also coordinated a Raiderthon, a fun-run fundraiser where students ran and/or walked laps to raise money for future school wellness initiatives.

To promote staff wellness, an empty classroom was transformed into a yoga BambergWellnessMatsstudio/meditation space.  Staff get together usually once a week after school and use the Smartboard and DVDs to guide them through physically challenging, yet mindfully charged, yoga exercises.

This past school year, Richard Carroll held its first Wellness Week to “Celebrate Being Healthy.” Each day provided fun opportunities for students and staff to eat healthy and be physically active, including Drink Water Day on Monday, Try it (a new vegetable) Tuesday, Recess Rocks Wednesday with new portable play equipment, Bring a Fruit or Vegetable from Home Thursday, and Wellness Walk around campus Friday.

Focus on wellness will continue

These are only examples of what Richard Carroll Elementary is doing to promote health and wellness.  Principal Stacey Walter is very proud of what her staff and students have accomplished and ensures that wellness will remain embedded in the culture of the school by continuing to lead their School Wellness Committee and by participating in the district’s Coordinated School Health Advisory Committee.