It’s Drinking Water Week (May 1-7, 2022) and an excellent opportunity to highlight the men and women around the state that work diligently every day to make sure that the state’s drinking water supply remains safe. This includes DHEC staff members from the Bureau of Water and the Bureau of Environmental Health Services as well as the managers and operators of the 2,534 public water systems serving 4.4 million people in South Carolina.Continue reading
A collection of health and environmental posts from other governmental blogs.
Behind every drop of water from the tap is an entire forest ecosystem. And while it’s easy to take drinking water for granted, you might be surprised to learn that the nation’s largest single source of water is the National Forest System, the network of national forests stewarded by the USDA Forest Service. Many of these national forest lands overlay the source areas for important rivers and aquifer systems, and more than 60 million Americans rely on them for drinking water.
Scientists from Forest Service Research and Development, or R&D, investigate the quality and quantity of water from forests and conduct research that informs water stewardship and reduces costs. For example, one R&D study showed that nearly 21 million people in the South receive their drinking water from national forest lands – roughly equivalent to the population of Florida! — From the US Department of Agriculture blog
As the school year ends across the country and summer approaches, summer meals are critical in the lives of millions of our nation’s youth, whose risk for food insecurity increases during the summer months when they no longer have access to the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs (NSLP).
Summer meal programs, including the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and the Seamless Summer Option within the NSLP, present the opportunity to help alleviate summertime food insecurity and positively impact children’s growth and development by offering nutritious meals and encouraging children to develop healthy habits at a young age. — From the USDA blog
The aging of the U.S. population has led to a number of changes in the workforce, particularly a movement of the worker distribution toward older ages2, 4. By 2022, about one-third (31.9%) of Americans aged 65 to 74 years will still be working (Toosi 2013). The impact of a longer working life can be significant in both positive and negative ways. On the positive side, work is the main means of income for consumption and savings, serves an anchoring function in society, and can be a source of dignity, social connectedness, and purpose. Negative consequences of working longer may include increased morbidity and mortality from injuries, longer recovery times, burnout, job lock (needing to stay employed to retain health insurance and benefits), age discrimination, job insecurity, periods of unwanted unemployment, and less non-work time (Schulte et al. 2018). — From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) NIOSH Science blog
The first genetic tests directly available to consumers for health were offered in 1996. The concept, then, was both audacious and bold: the idea that individuals could explore their own human genome without the aid of a health care provider to order the test or interpret the results.
Some consumer advocates praised the development as empowering, while many medical and public health experts advised caution, given the lack of evidence that results were clinically useful and that the risk for potential harms was unknown. Meanwhile, the direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic health test industry grew relatively slowly during the first two decades of its existence. During that time, personal genomics for any purpose was often perceived as a mere curiosity purchased by only a few wealthy individuals. — From the CDC’s Genomics and Health Impact blog
Guest post by Ms. Deborah Ezell , Chesnee High School, Spartanburg School District 2
The Chesnee High School Water Bottle Project began as an offshoot of our recycling program and my marine science class. We discuss the ocean trash patch every semester and the amount of plastic that ends up in the ocean. Seeing the amount of water bottles in the recycling bins, I felt it was important to stress the need to reduce the amount of trash we generate all together.
A few students got together to make a video last year to introduce the idea to the school body about the ocean trash patch and the need to reduce the number of plastic bottles we use every day. The video was a necessary undertaking because the student body really had to understand why it is so important to stop using plastic bottles before they would buy into the inconvenience of having to fill their own bottle. They needed to know what was at stake.
The video was shown at the end of the 2014-2015 school year. At the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year we began distributing water bottles to the students. We kept coolers of ice water in each wing for students to fill up their bottles anytime during the day. The coolers were difficult to maintain because they had to be cleaned and refilled twice a day. It was very labor intensive and after six months of it the kids were getting a little tired.
Taking it to the next level
Winning the Champions of the Environment Award has allowed us to put in water fountains fitted for bottles and it has made all the difference for our water bottle program. The students in Chesnee are now invested in the program and would not want to go back to the days without the bottle fountain. We have lowered the number of plastic water bottles by 30 percent in 2015. Since January 2016 we have lowered the number by almost 50 percent!
The City of Spartanburg has begun a water bottle program, so I hope our success helps the city make a water bottle program successful across the city. We plan on taking our show on the road and spreading the word at the Spartanburg Earth Day festival and The Spring Fling Festival.
I feel like this program will continue to be successful in the future because the students feel a sense of ownership in it. They designed the school recycling logo, created the video, wrote the grant application and then won the award. They feel pride in what they have accomplished and that pride will help keep this program going for a long long time. These kinds of programs can be difficult sometimes, but when the students take ownership of their work you as the teacher can spend more time helping them understand the importance of what they are doing.
This post is part of a series of posts on environmental education submitted by DHEC’s Champions of the Environment 2016 winners.
About Champions of the Environment
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 S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, International Paper and SCE&G, with assistance from the Environmental Education Association of South Carolina. For more information, visit www.scdhec.gov/champions.