Category Archives: Public Health

DHEC Team and Partner Cited in National Engineering Competition for Chemical Contamination Cleanup

DHEC’s South Carolina Drycleaning Facility Restoration Trust Fund (DFRTF) team with engineering services provided WSP USA Inc. (WSP, formerly Ecology & Environment, Inc.) earned a National Recognition Award for exemplary engineering achievement in the American Council of Engineering Companies’ (ACEC) 54th annual Engineering Excellence Awards (EEA) for performing environmental assessment and contamination remediation statewide at former dry cleaning facility sites enrolled in the DFRTF program.

Konstantine Akhvlediani, Robert Hodges, and LaJoyce Perkins-Alexander compose the agency team and their mission is to clean up contaminated dry-cleaning sites using state contractors, all of which is paid for from the trust fund. The team administers the fund and directs and oversees the cleanup activities.

Preliminary assessment (PA) was performed at 420 former dry-cleaning facility sites to determine the magnitude of environmental contamination resulting from the use of various chemicals. Of these, 100 sites were closed where no impact was found and more than 300 sites had chemical residue that posed a risk to private and public drinking water wells. Following the PA risk-based ranking of sites, comprehensive remedial investigations beginning with sites exhibiting with the highest potential risks to drinking water sources was initiated.

Dry-cleaning solvent impacts to groundwater and soil were evaluated by identifying source areas and delineating the extent of dissolved contaminants using rapid vertical profiling techniques for sample collection combined with a highly effective and innovative field-based colorimetric screening method for low-level detection of chlorinated compounds. WSP specifically developed this screening method to facilitate real-time decision making and strengthened overall data quality resulting in significantly accelerated process of source identification and dissolved contaminant delineation.

Once fully characterized with contaminant fate and transport determined, each site was reprioritized. Sites presenting the greatest risk were addressed through design and implementation of various remedial actions including source removal, in-situ chemical oxidation, in-situ biostimulation, and/or monitored natural attenuation.

A special approach was designed to rapidly evaluate the Vapor Intrusion Potential (VIP) of contaminant impacts to the sub-slab soil gas and indoor air facilities currently occupied by non-dry cleaning-related businesses. At sites with indoor air concentrations exceeding target cleanup concentrations, the team designed and implemented an approach to mitigate the indoor air impacts using a modified Sub-Slab Depressurization System (SSDS). Originally designed for radon mitigation, this system requires minimal design modifications and utilizes readily available system components.

This significantly minimized design and construction costs. Most SSDS systems achieved target Vapor Intrusion Screening Levels for drycleaning related compounds within 30 days of startup. The SSDS systems also provide significant removal of chlorinated solvent mass from the sub-slab soils. To date, the systems have collectively removed over 800 pounds of tetrachloroethylene from beneath former DC facilities.

The project also received the additional honor of Diamond Award from ACEC New York this year representing engineering excellence from throughout the nation and the world. Judging for the awards program—known industry-wide as the “Academy Awards of the engineering industry”– took place in February and was conducted by a national 20-member panel of built-environment leaders, along with experts from government, media, and academia. Award criteria focused on uniqueness and originality, technical innovation, social and economic value, and generating excitement for the engineering profession.

Recognition of all award winners including top winners—20 Honor Awards, 16 Grand Awards, and the prestigious “Grand Conceptor Award” for the year’s most outstanding overall engineering achievement—took place during the 2021 Virtual EEA Gala, held Thursday, June 17, 2021.

Highlighting Benefits of Breastfeeding for National Recognition Month

August is National Breastfeeding Awareness Month and DHEC’s Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program wants you to recognize how breastfeeding fits into public health. Breastfeeding is good for both infants and mothers. 

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), breast milk is the best source of nutrition for most infants. Breastfeeding provides all the nutrients a baby needs for healthy growth and development.  

It is proven breastfeeding promotes health, prevents disease, and contribute to reducing health inequalities by giving babies a healthier start at the beginning of their lives. As an infant grows, breast milk changes to meet the infant’s nutritional needs.  

Breastfeeding can also help protect the infant and mother against certain illnesses and diseases:  

Decrease Risks to Infants Decrease Risks to Mothers 
Asthma Obesity Type 1 diabetes Severe lower respiratory disease Acute otitis media (ear infections) Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) Gastrointestinal infections (diarrhea/vomiting) Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) for preterm infantsBreast cancer Ovarian cancer Type 2 diabetes High blood pressure 

Every woman’s breastfeeding journey is different, so you may experience some challenges. If you do, just remember it’s okay to ask for help.  

A WIC breastfeeding expert is trained to help you overcome breastfeeding challenges. Your family and friends can help, too. With a little time, patience, and support, you can overcome breastfeeding challenges and meet your goals.  

WIC is part of the Bureau of Community Nutrition Services. 

Our state’s regions have spent this month celebrating National Breastfeeding Month in clinics statewide. Check out some of the bulletin boards and other events our health clinics held to raise awareness for breastfeeding here. 

Don’t forget you can learn more about breastfeeding by visiting our WIC breastfeeding page.  

DHEC Celebrates World Breastfeeding Week 2021 and National Breastfeeding Month

This week marks World Breastfeeding Week. Celebrated across the globe from Aug. 1-7, 2021, the annual awareness week seeks to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world. 

This year’s theme is “Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility.” It focuses on how protecting breastfeeding is a shared responsibility. The World Alliance for Breastfeeding emphasizes the need for a public health approach to breastfeeding to build better systems. 

DHEC’s Women Infant and Children (WIC) team encourage its participants to choose to breastfeed as their first option for feeding their babies. Breastfeeding has many benefits for both mother and child including:  

  • Breast milk naturally has all the nutrients and antibodies babies need to grow, develop, and prevent illnesses.   
  • Breastfeeding is convenient and a great timesaver. You can breastfeed almost anywhere and anytime your baby is hungry.  
  • Breastfeeding helps the uterus return to its normal size.  
  • Breastfeeding reduces health care costs because babies are healthier. 
  • Breast milk is always sterile, warm, and ready to serve. 

WIC is part of the Bureau of Community Nutrition Services.

We understand breastfeeding can be challenging for some mothers, especially in the early days. Lactation consultants can help you find ways to make breastfeeding work for you and your baby. Click here to learn more about tackling breastfeeding challenges.  

In addition to World Breastfeeding Week, August is also National Breastfeeding Month. To help celebrate World Breastfeeding Week and National Breastfeeding Month, our regions will be conducting activities. If you’re visiting one of our clinics, look for special activities. We’ll also be sharing pictures later this month showing some of the special events taking place throughout our state.  

According to the World Alliance for Breastfeeding, scaling up breastfeeding can prevent:  

  • 20,000 maternal deaths annually 
  • 823,000 child deaths annually 
  • $302B in economic losses annually  
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For more information about breastfeeding visit the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action’s website where you can also sign a pledge to participate in World Breastfeeding Week. Also, you can learn about how WIC can help with breastfeeding by visiting our WIC webpage. 

DHEC Encourages Vaccinations and Screenings for World Hepatitis Day

July 28 is World Hepatitis Day, and this year’s theme is “Hepatitis Can’t Wait.” This theme was chosen by the World Hepatitis Alliance because testing, vaccination, and treatment for hepatitis can’t wait, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In South Carolina, hepatitis continues to be a major health burden on many in our communities. Chronic hepatitis B and C can lead to liver disease, cancer and death if untreated. Hepatitis A, while usually a mild illness, has caused increased hospitalizations during the ongoing outbreak in South Carolina that began in 2018. 

In 2019, 527 cases of chronic hepatitis B and 7,022 cases of chronic hepatitis C were diagnosed in South Carolina. Additionally, 2,000 hepatitis A cases have been identified since the outbreak began in November 2018.  

The best way to prevent viral hepatitis infection and liver damage is to be vaccinated for hepatitis A and B and to be screened for hepatitis C. People diagnosed with hepatitis C can be cured of the infection, and the risk of further liver damage can be reduced. 

Hepatitis can’t wait, and we can all do our part to reduce the burden of hepatitis in our communities. 

To learn more about hepatitis, please click here. To find hepatitis, STD and HIV services in your areas, please click here.