Category Archives: Environment

From Other Blogs: Drought, infectious disease prevention and the opioid response, broccoli & more

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

Tracking Network Data Spotlight: Drought

You don’t have to live in a desert to experience drought. Did you know that 48 states experienced drought in 2016? Dry periods of below-average rainfall are experienced throughout the United States: they can be relatively short or last years, and can cover both large and small areas.

Extended dry periods have become more frequent in parts of the United States during the past several decades. This can affect people’s health in a number of ways.  CDC’s Environmental Public Health Tracking Network (Tracking Network) allows users to track the duration and severity of drought over time throughout the country. This information can inform a wide variety of environmental and public health efforts related to drought. — From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Your Health — Your Environment blog

Integrating Infectious Disease Prevention and Treatment into the Opioid Response

The opioid crisis in the United States is devastating the lives of millions of Americans. Perhaps overshadowed by the alarming rise in overdoses and deaths is the accompanying numbers of injection-related infectious diseases. Opioid overdose deaths increased fivefold from 1999 to 2016, and new hepatitis C infections more than tripled from 2010 to 2016.

Some communities that have been hardest hit by the opioid crisis have also seen associated increases in hepatitis B and C and other infections, such as endocarditis, septic arthritis and abscesses, driven by increases in the numbers of people who inject opioids. — From the US Department of Health & Human Services blog

Always in Season: Frozen Broccoli 5-Ways

Summer is in full swing with warm, long days to enjoy with friends and family. The season offers a perfect time to stock your freezer with vegetables to have on-hand. Frozen vegetables are simple to store and an easy way to make half your plate fruits and vegetables year round. One popular freezer favorite for every season is frozen broccoli.

Broccoli mixes well with a variety of flavors and sauces and can be used in a many recipes. The convenience of frozen broccoli makes it easy to add to soups, casseroles, egg dishes and more. Part of the MyPlate Dark Green Vegetable subgroup, broccoli adds lively color to meals and provides nutrients such as dietary fiber, folate (folic acid) and vitamin C. — From the US Department of Agriculture blog

NIFA-Funded Research Aims to Keep Bees on the Job

Bee populations in North America have been in decline since the 1940s. This is of great concern to the agriculture industry because about 75 percent of specialty crops depend on the services of pollinators – of which bees are the most economically important.

In the United States, honey bees and native bees are the most economically important species contributing approximately $15 billion in crop value. USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) invests in research to investigate the reasons for the declining populations, promote pollinator health, reduce honey bee colony losses, and restore pollinator habitats. — From the USDA blog

SCEEP Celebrating 20 Years Of Promoting Good Environmental Stewardship

The South Carolina Environmental Excellence Program (SCEEP) is celebrating its 20th year of recognizing companies that practice good environmental stewardship. There are currently 46 member companies representing industries, businesses and utilities. A celebration is being planned for later in the year.

SCEEP is a voluntary initiative designed to recognize and reward South Carolina facilities that have demonstrated superior environmental performance through pollution prevention, energy and resource conservation, and the use of an environmental management system. The program is coordinated by DHEC’s Office of Environmental Affairs, but is directed by the SCEEP Advisory Committee, which includes representatives of industry, environment, government, academia and public interest.

SCEEP encourages companies to become environmental leaders and to mentor other companies. The member companies are able to share environmental knowledge and expertise so that other companies and facilities can better understand and appreciate the importance of environmental excellence and become environmental leaders themselves. They are committed to improving South Carolina’s environment by reducing their waste streams through pollution prevention and by reducing their consumption of energy and other resources.

For more information and a list of companies that have been honored by SCEEP, visit the DHEC website at www.scdhec.gov/sceep or contact Rebecca Sproles at (803) 898-3139 or by e-mail at sprolemr@dhec.sc.gov.

DHEC in the News: Air quality alert tips, opioids, invisible public health crisis in rural South

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

Safety tips when under an air quality alert

COLUMBIA, SC (WACH) — Fighting off the heat is typical at this time of year but the battle can be extra hard for some people.

Wednesday, DHEC issued an air quality alert between 10 a-m and 8 p-m. Those most at risk for getting sick were small children, older adults and people with respiratory problems. And because it’s likely there will be more alerts this summer health officials have these tips:

Opioid crisis: Tega Cay police offer new way residents can safely dispose of meds

TEGA CAY – Local residents who have unused or expired prescription drugs can now safely dispose of them at home.

Misuse of opioid-based drugs continues to impact communities across the country.

So far this year, there have been 13 overdose deaths in York County, eight of which were related to opioids, said York County Coroner Sabrina Gast. Other deaths that are presumed to be overdoses are awaiting toxicology results. There were 550 drug overdose deaths involving opiates in South Carolina in 2016, a 7 percent increase from 2015 and an 18 percent increase from 2014, according to S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control

General Interest

The rural South’s invisible public health crisis

When Pamela Rush flushes her toilet, the waste flows out the back of her sky blue mobile home through a yellowing plastic pipe and empties just a few yards away in a soggy pit of mud, weeds, and dead grass.

On a hot day in mid-May, Rush walked around her yard in rural Lowndes County, Alabama. Flies and mosquitoes swarmed her as she tiptoed near the pit. The smell of sewage was overwhelming.

Rush, 48, a soft-spoken woman with striking brown eyes, has straight-piped her family’s waste into her yard for almost two decades. Her home is on the edge of clay dirt road in the dense Alabama forest, miles from a municipal sewer system. …

In the rural South, these conditions aren’t uncommon.

DHEC Continues Its Work To Improve Permitting Process

        The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) included DHEC’s work with Boeing in its Smart            Sectors program video highlighting best practices in environmental permitting.

By Shelly Wilson
Permitting and Federal Facilities Liaison

On June 26, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) highlighted DHEC’s efforts to streamline the permitting process for the Boeing expansion in North Charleston as a national best practice.

EPA specifically showcased DHEC permitting for the Boeing expansion as an example of how planning, collaboration, and innovation can be good for the environment, the community, and the economy.

This recognition from the EPA affirms DHEC’s overall efforts at improving the permitting process. DHEC has been working to streamline its permitting over the past several years, and the Boeing expansion and the new Volvo plant are excellent examples of the agency’s integrated joint planning process that kept permitting schedules on target or faster.

DHEC has reduced the average time it takes to issue South Carolina permits by about 40 percent since 2007. That yields an estimated economic impact between $72 million and $103 million each year for the state and shows that protective permitting can be done quickly and fit well within the community.

The size of your project doesn’t matter

The effort to streamline the permitting process isn’t aimed at just larger companies. No matter the size of your enterprise, DHEC will work to minimize the time it takes to get the necessary permits.

Whether you’re starting the business of your dreams or are seeking to expand, you will likely have to get a permit from DHEC if that new enterprise or expansion could have an impact on the public health or the environment in South Carolina.

We know permitting can be challenging. At DHEC we are working hard to serve you, to make permitting transparent, and to make the process as smooth and efficient as possible.

We believe permitting should be clear, timely, and responsive. That is why we created Permit Central, launched by former Governor Nikki Haley in 2013. Permit Central is a service that helps our customers see the whole permitting picture up front, get help getting started, and jointly plan a permit target schedule.

Permit Central improving customer service

How do you engage Permit Central?  It’s really up to you. You can go through the interactive questionnaire on our website at www.scdhec.gov/PermitCentral/PermitCentral/ and it will tell you the permits that you will likely need. The website is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and does not retain any of the information that you enter.

If you’d like, give me a call and we can talk through your permitting questions. I will be your tour guide through the entire permit journey. You can also contact me to set up a discussion with our Permit Central Team made up of knowledgeable DHEC representatives who can help answer your more detailed questions.

PermitCentral

When you talk with us early in your planning process we can help advise you on which permitting strategies best suit your plans. We can also give you planning times and work with you to develop a joint permit target schedule. When we have jointly developed a schedule with those seeking permits, we have been very successful in meeting that target schedule.

No matter how big or small your plans are — personal (such as homebuilding) or business — or whether you just want to know more about an upcoming local business application, don’t hesitate to contact me through Permit Central to get your questions answered.

Contact Shelly Wilson at (803) 898-3138, (803) 920-4987 or wilsonmd@dhec.sc.gov

From Other Blogs: Lightning, preventing and treating sunburn, wildlife disease surveillance & more

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

Lightning Safety

The weather forecast calls for a slight chance of thunderstorms, but you can only see a few fluffy white clouds overhead. So you and your tennis partner grab your racquets and balls and head for the tennis court. You spend a few minutes warming up and then —wait! Is that thunder you hear? Was that a lightning flash?

What do you do? Keep playing until the thunder and lightning get closer? Go sit on the metal bench under the trees to see what happens? Or get in your car and drive home?

Correct answer: If no substantial, non-concrete shelter is nearby, get in your car and wait out the storm. — From the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Your Health — Your Environment blog

Don’t feel the burn: Tips for preventing and treating sunburn

It’s that time of year. School is out. The lake is calling your name. The water is warm at the beach, and you want to spend as much time outside as possible. Katie Schill, nurse practitioner with Palmetto Health’s Mobile Clinic, offers some advice on how to prevent sunburns while enjoying time outdoors. — From Flourish, Palmetto Health’s blog

Sniffing Out Disease: Dogs Trained for Wildlife Disease Surveillance

Odin is a Labrador retriever/border collie mix. By watching his wagging tail and alert expression, Colorado State University researcher Dr. Glen Golden can sense he is eager to begin his training.

Odin is one of five dogs recently adopted from shelters and animal rescue centers to become detector dogs for wildlife disease surveillance. The dogs are housed and trained at the USDA-APHIS National Wildlife Research Center (NWRC) in Fort Collins, Colorado. They are part of a collaborative 12-month program to evaluate the effectiveness of training and using dogs to detect and identify waterfowl feces or carcasses infected with avian influenza (AI). — From the US Department of Agriculture blog

Soaking in Another Victory

It’s a four-peat.

For the fourth consecutive year, the University of Maryland, College Park has won high honors in EPA’s Campus RainWorks Challenge, a national collegiate competition to design the best ideas for capturing stormwater on campus before it can harm waterways. — From the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) blog