Tag Archives: Environment

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.

Champions of the Environment Merit Winner: Montessori School of Anderson Compost Initiative

by
Charles Jordan
Montessori School of Anderson

This is the fifth of a series of blog posts recognizing winners of the 2016 Champions of the Environment awards.

At the Montessori School of Anderson, environmental education is an important aspect of our curriculum. Montessori philosophy encourages children to be self-directed and follow their interests. If we can provide a school environment with opportunities for children to discover the outdoors, we are planting seeds for a healthy environment. The inspiration for MSA’s Champions of the Environment project was food. We realized that after lunches and snacks, we had scrap food that was going to the landfill. This was a missed opportunity for replenishing nutrients in our garden’s soil! Through our composting project, our students are learning how red wiggler worms and bacteria can break down scrap and spoiled food into something useful and beneficial to the soil. Students learned that the worm castings not only return nutrients to the soil but they can help break up clumps of soil to allow air and water to pass through. They were surprised by some of the statistics that shows how much money families can save by composting. The students were given a lesson about the efficiency of red wigglers and how to assemble a worm bin. The class has created two vermiculture bins to compare and contrast the vermicomposting and hot composting methods.

The best part of our project is the campus-wide involvement across grades from K3 to 12th. The most challenging part of this project has been educating teachers and students about the importance of composting and what can be added to a compost pile. We think that this project will have lasting impacts beyond this school year. One of our goals is to grow crops, such as alfalfa and buckwheat that can be added to our compost in addition to food scraps, to create a continuous supply of compost for our gardens. Each level offers a daily morning snack and the students are responsible for preparing their own snack. Our aim is to create an environment where our students can grow, harvest, clean and prepare the food that they have grown. This will help them have a greater understanding of where their food comes from and how easy and rewarding it is to grow your own fruits and vegetables. If you want to start your own environmental education project, we suggest start planning and building community involvement early for your project to continue being successful after its launch.

Champions of the Environment: Solar Power Shines at Leaphart Elementary School

by
Ms. Heather Reitenga
Leaphart Elementary School

 

This is the fourth of a series of blog posts recognizing winners of the 2016 Champions of the Environment awards.

Our students are very excited about our solar panel project for our school greenhouse.  They are having the opportunity to learn about renewable energy options that are very attainable for us right now.  They are learning about the kind of energy that the sun provides, how this energy can be used as a renewable resource, about energy flow and how energy affects us. One thing that has helped us out is to feel good about starting out small. Our first project is using the solar power for the irrigation in the greenhouse. This isn’t a critical need and requires a small amount of energy. This low stakes approach has made us more comfortable about experimenting and learning. Because this is not high stakes energy consumption, we can have students be the designers and engineers of the systems.  Although we are starting out smaller, our panels and inverter have the ability for higher output. This project will definitely have impacts on our school for years to come because we were able to purchase a high capacity system. We will be able to continue to add to this system until we are giving out students a clear picture of the maximum capacity of these panels.

Our advice for teachers and classes that want to start their own environmental education project is to team up with experts!  We really had no one in our school that knew very much about solar energy.  We learned from Grape Solar about what type of system we needed, and then we got some great on-site information from Patrick Smallwood, one of our district’s Clean Energy Technology Instructors.  Having Patrick come out has led to a great partnership, and Patrick’s students are excited about coming out to our school for Earth Day to help us learn even more about solar energy! Environmental education is so very important for our future. We need to show our students that science, clean energy, and a clean environment are important, fun, and can impact our lives in a very positive way.

Champions of the Environment: Richland Two Institute of Innovation’s Ecofitness Project

by
Kristin Bullington
Richland Two Institute of Innovation

This is the third of a series of blog posts recognizing winners of the 2016 Champions of the Environment awards.

The purpose of the Ecofitness project is to explore mechanical energy as an alternative energy source while promoting green and healthy lifestyles.  Using a Read and Ride bicycle as a mechanical energy generator, students in the Next Energy class calculate the efficiency of the bike and compare it to other alternative energies studied in class, including solar, wind, and hydrogen fuel cells.  After using the bike for their energy efficiency studies, students will use the Ecofitness generator as an outreach tool to middle and elementary school students, as well as the greater community as a tie-in with the county library branch located on the school campus.  As the Read and Ride bicycle is designed to allow its users to read a book while exercising, it provides a unique opportunity to promote air pollution reduction, literacy, and healthy lifestyles at the same time.

The bicycle is available for supervised exercise, which feeds current back into the grid, thereby reducing the power needs within the class.  Students calculate watts generated, carbon dioxide avoided, and calories burned as measurements of the impact of the bicycle on energy use.  The inspiration for the Ecofitness project was to engage students in both environmental education and healthy lifestyles in a way that makes energy conservation meaningful to each participant.  When students discover that their laptop needs roughly 30 watts of energy to charge, and they have to provide it through moderate exercise, the meaning of a watt in terms of power becomes clearer, as well as its relationship to calorie burning and intake.  In addition, the bike can be used to charge mobile devices, which can be a powerful incentive to exercise for teens!

Environmental education is an excellent venue for interdisciplinary projects and student-generated solutions.  As an engineering teacher, I have found that most students are interested in protecting the Earth and its natural resources, but sometimes lack the specific skills needed to design their own solutions.  Environmental engineering allows students to apply their knowledge across courses, and with instruction in project management and technical content, they are able to create new solutions and become empowered to make a real difference.

The best part of the project for me is watching students explain to their peers and adults how the bike generates electrical energy; the confidence and specificity they exhibit tells me how much they have mastered our alternative energy standards.  It is also rewarding to see so many students of all ages eager to try out the bike.  The most challenging part of the project is charging a battery directly; the students have discovered that it is difficult to cycle at the needed wattage consistently, and that it is much easier to return the current directly to the grid.  However, the Ecofitness project will definitely be a permanent addition to the Next Energy class, as it provides a kinesthetic understanding of electrical power while promoting green energy and exercise.