Category Archives: Environment

From Other Blogs: Avoiding foodborne illnesses, norovirus, protecting the Earth’s ‘Thin Skin’ & more

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

Don’t Get Roasted by Foodborne Illnesses this Winter

The holidays are all about sharing, having fun and, of course…food!!! I bet you will agree that a good holiday get-together always includes delicious traditional dishes or special recipes.

If you are hosting a holiday party this winter, you have probably already started thinking about treating your guests to a delectable menu. There are endless recipes and traditional holiday dishes that will reappear or make a debut at your dinner table; however, foodborne illnesses should not be part of the feast. While food is something to look forward to this season, foodborne illnesses is not. — From the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) blog

Norovirus Illness is Messy – Clean Up Right Away

When norovirus strikes in your own home, you can be prepared by having the supplies you need to immediately clean up after a loved one vomits or has diarrhea.

Norovirus is a tiny germ that spreads quickly and easily. It causes vomiting and diarrhea that come on suddenly. A very small amount of norovirus can make you sick. The number of virus particles that fit on the head of a pin is enough to infect over 1,000 people. — From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Public Health Matters blog

Protecting the Earth’s ‘Thin Skin’

Though remarkably thin, soil makes up a layer of the Earth’s crust that’s vital to human survival. The soil is a living, breathing thing that, like the body’s skin, requires care and attention lest we lose its many benefits. — From the USDA blog

Farmers Keeping Nutrients on the Field, Out of Streams

Clean water is a priority for all of us. When farmers manage nutrients, they are also helping to minimize the runoff of nutrients into local streams and rivers.

Farmers rely on two major nutrients in fertilizer — nitrogen and phosphorus — to help crops grow. When excess fertilizer leaves the field and enters local waterways in surface water runoff, those nutrients cause algae in the water to bloom much faster than it would under normal conditions. The algae eventually breaks down, and the bacteria involved in decomposition deplete oxygen in the water to unhealthily low levels. Ultimately, fish and other aquatic organisms often die as a result of this oxygen depletion. This process is called eutrophication. — From the USDA blog

DHEC in the News: DHEC Public Health Data App, King Tides, septic tanks

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

New DHEC site helps answer public health questions

COLUMBIA (WACH) – The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is introducing a new, innovative web portal to help answer public health questions.

DHEC’s County Health Profiles allows users to access state and county health data and compare data sets.

Citizen scientists watch for ’king tides’

WASHINGTON — The tide watchers start patrolling whenever the celestial forces align. From coast to coast, hundreds of tide watchers come out with their cameras to record the latest “king tides,” brief episodes of tidal flooding that could become the norm, with expected sea level rise.

King tides are a colloquial term for the highest tides of the year. They occur when the moon is closest to the earth at moments when the sun, moon and Earth are in alignment, increasing the gravitational forces at play.

A decade ago, few had heard of “king tides,” much less waded through them in galoshes. Now, Miami regularly floods. So do Myrtle Beach and Charleston, South Carolina, and other U.S. cities. And more than ever, groups of citizens are out there photographing the results, uploading the photos and debating what the future will bring.

DHEC grant will fix septic systems for more than 100 in Loris, Longs

LORIS, SC (WBTW) – A new grant will help Horry County officials improve water quality in parts of the county.

The Horry Soil and Water Conservation District received the grant from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. The grant amounts to over $400,000 and, according to project manager Sam Ward, it will go towards fixing or replacing faulty septic systems.

The 12 Days of Reducing, Reusing and Recycling

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and as wonderful as the holidays are, it’s also the time of year when people tend to generate tons of waste. While reducing, reusing, and recycling should be practiced year-round, it is even more important during the holidays when our waste is plenteous.

DHEC is challenging you to put these 12 recycling and waste reduction tips to use this holiday season.

  1. Keep a waste-free kitchen by taking a look around to determine what you already have on hand before going shopping. Make a list of things you need before heading to the store. Compost or donate your unwanted food and recycle your cooking oil. Find other helpful tips at dhec.sc.gov/dontwastefoodsc.
  2. Have hard-to-recycle items? Consider only buying materials packaged in what can be recycled in your area. Find where and what you can recycle at www.scdhec.gov/HomeAndEnvironment/Recycling.
  3. Give waste-less gifts like your time to clean someone’s house, piano or guitar lessons, gym memberships or certificates for pampering.newspaperwrap
  4. Most wrapping paper cannot be recycled, BUT you can reuse something to wrap with instead like paper bags, newspaper, maps or use reusable grocery bags, scarves or flower pots. Also reuse greeting cards to make gift tags.
  5. Stop the unwanted mail! Check out ecocycle.org/junkmail for six easy steps. Make sure to recycle mail with your paper as well.
  6. Prevent food waste this holiday by providing reusable containers or asking your guests to bring their own for leftovers.ledlights
  7. Use LED lights, which last 10 times longer and use 80 percent less energy. Recycle your old strings of lights. Find more information on hard-to-recycle items at scdhec.gov/HomeAndEnvironment/Recycling/WhatCanIRecycle/.
  8. Go with an eco-deco theme by decorating with natural materials like greenery, gourds, fresh fruit and pine cones — all which can be composted after the holidays.
  9. Set up a collection corner at your party by providing an area where guests can bring unwanted items to swap or donate.
  10. Always let your guests know what can be recycled and composted. Clearly mark your bins and let guests know where they’re located.
  11. Provide a green dining experience by using dishes and silverware instead of disposables. If you need more dishes for guests, shop thrift stores to find festive ones.christmastree
  12. Grind those greens. If you decorated a real tree and are ready for it to go, remember to find out where your county will be accepting them for grinding.

It is important to keep in mind the importance of conserving your waste before, during, and after the holidays.

For more tips and information on recycling and waste reduction, visit the DHEC website.

Three Companies Will Continue Efforts to Protect S.C.’s Environment

Kudos to Patheon API, Inc., CB&I AREVA MOX Services and Comatrol Danfoss for continuing their efforts to protect and preserve South Carolina’s environment by renewing their membership in the South Carolina Environmental Excellence Program (SCEEP).

The SCEEP is a voluntary program for companies committed to continuous environmental improvement.  Membership in the program must be renewed every three years.

More about the three companies

Patheon API, Inc. (formerly Roche Carolina, Inc.) has been a member of the program since 2009.  During the past three years, Patheon has made upgrades to equipment to better control air emissions as well as a new system to use during periods of downtime.  With the installation of the new Cryogenic Condensation System and the Carbon Adsorption System, the facility has reported a reduction of carbon dioxide emissions by 1,400 tons per year.  The company has also installed new chiller units that use a more environmentally friendly refrigerant. Patheon is focusing more on energy conservation and finding new ways to be an environmental leader.

CB&I AREVA MOX Services, located at the Savannah River Site, is a company that is constructing a facility to manufacture pellets by recycling surplus plutonium and mixing it with uranium to be used as fuel in nuclear reactors.  Recently, MOX Services has developed a method to remove the valve pins from their small propylene gas cylinders to ensure they are empty. The cylinders can then be shipped to an offsite facility for recycling.  Without developing the system to remove the pins, the cylinders were considered hazardous waste and unable to be recycled as there was no way to determine if they were [RCRA] empty.  Also, the amount of diesel fuel has been reportedly significantly reduced by running temporary electricity to the diesel generators and diesel light plants when they are needed in operation.  MOX Services has been a member of the SCEEP since 2011.

Comatrol Danfoss, located in Easley, SC, has been a member of SCEEP since 2009. Recycling and energy savings are top priorities at Comatrol Danfoss. The company strives to recycle products used in their production from waste generated to metal turnings and hydraulic oil.  Over the next three years, Comatrol Danfoss plans to further reduce its energy usage by installing new LED lamps and motion detectors for offices to ensure lights are only on when they need to be.  Water saving fixtures and water conserving units also will be installed. Each employee at the Comatrol Danfoss facility is working towards a 5 percent reduction in water usage and landfill reduction.

Congratulations to these three outstanding members of the SC Environmental Excellence Program.  Each of these companies will be members through 2020.

For more information about the SCEEP, please contact Rebecca Sproles at sprolemr@dhec.sc.gov or 803-898-3139.

Eight S.C. Schools Receive Champions of the Environment Grants

Eight schools have been awarded grants to support efforts to educate the next generation of environmental stewards.

“This year, Champions of the Environment grant program winners will establish wildlife habitats, and develop learning gardens and outdoor classrooms,” said Amanda Ley, DHEC‘s coordinator for the Champions of the Environment program. “Environmental education programs like the Champions program provide opportunities for students to become engaged in real environmental issues that go far beyond the classroom and hopefully make a lasting impact.”

About Champions of the Environment

Established in 1993, Champions of the Environment has been empowering youth environmental action for 25 years. Champions of the Environment provides resources and support to foster environmental education and action in South Carolina’s kindergarten through 12th grade classrooms. The program is sponsored by DHEC, International Paper and SCE&G, with assistance from the Environmental Education Association of South Carolina.

“Some of our first Champions would be in their 40s now, with families of their own,” said Ley. “We hope that they have carried on the culture of environmental stewardship, promoting behavior change in South Carolina.”

The eight Champions of the Environment winners

This year’s grant winners are:

  • Lakewood Elementary School, Horry County — Students will establish a seed library by growing, harvesting, storing, and sharing seeds from locally grown heirloom vegetables.
  • Academy for Technology and Academics, Horry County — Plants will be grown in three different garden systems to determine which one results in better water use efficiency, soil quality, plant production, and labor input.
  • East Clarendon Middle/High School, Clarendon County — An outdoor classroom will be created to teach students about natural habitats, composting and recycling, and the weather’s effect on plant growth.
  • Dutch Fork Middle School, Lexington/Richland Counties — Students in the ACTION (Assisting Communities Together Inspiring Our Neighbors) Program will work with special needs classes to improve an outdoor classroom by increasing plant diversity to attract pollinators.
  • McBee Elementary School, Chesterfield County — The entire school will be engaged in hands-on science by planting and maintaining a garden, building and decorating rain barrels, and composting cafeteria waste.
  • Jackson Creek Elementary School, Richland County — Naturalists from Camp Leopold will help students create a wood duck habitat in the wetland surrounding the school.
  • Porter-Gaud Lower School, Charleston County — Students will cultivate pollinator habitats on campus by restoring an existing nature trail and school garden.
  • Irmo High School, Lexington/Richland Counties — Standard and special education students will join forces to support a bee population by composting cafeteria waste for a pollinator garden.

Visit the DHEC website for more information about the Champions of the Environment program.