Tag Archives: smog

DHEC in the News: Rooftop air pollution sensors, National Health Security Preparedness Index, Isle of Palms renourishment project

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

Rooftop sensors on U.S. embassies are warning the world about ‘crazy bad’ air pollution

In October 2010, as heavy smog hung over Beijing, the U.S. embassy’s Twitter feed said its rooftop pollution sensor had detected “crazy bad” levels of hazardous microparticles. So-called PM2.5 had shot up to about 550 micrograms per cubic meter—a level to which programmers had given the sardonic label because they thought it would never be reached. …

By now, rooftop sensors like those that drew attention to Beijing’s pollution sprout from 26 diplomatic posts in 16 countries. Their immediate goal is to protect the health of U.S. diplomats. But they are raising concerns about air pollution from Sarajevo to New Delhi and supplying data to research efforts. The “little-air-monitor-that-could,” as physicist and former U.S. diplomat David Roberts calls it, has become a worldwide watchdog. …

Findings are radiating into other disciplines. During a stint at the U.S. consulate in São Paulo, Brazil, Tommy Flynn, a program manager with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, is providing technical assistance on the monitors.

General Interest

Is the U.S. Prepared for a Public Health Emergency?

The National Health Security Preparedness Index shows that overall, the United States’ day-to-day readiness for managing a public health crisis last year improved by 11 percent since the index’s first iteration in 2013, scoring a 7.1 on a 10-point scale. Thirty-eight states and the District of Columbia also boosted their overall health security in the last year, with Maryland scoring an 8.0 to outpace all other states.

“Threats to America’s health security are on the rise, but so is our nation’s preparedness to deal with these emergencies,” Dr. Alonzo Plough, chief science officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, said in a press release. “The Index shows how prepared public and private stakeholders are to tackle health security challenges and sheds light on areas for improvement.”

Isle of Palms gets $1.3 million federal grant to restore sand taken by Tropical Storm Irma

The sand that Tropical Storm Irma washed away from Isle of Palms has been restored, and the federal government just kicked in $1.3 million to help foot the bill.

The city had been working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency since the storm struck late last year, and the city hoped to save money by piggybacking off of earlier renourishment work.

Ozone Pollution and Your Health

By Elizabeth Dieck


One of the most common air pollutants in the U.S. is ozone, or smog. You may know that air pollution is a concern for people with heart or lung disease, but other groups can also be at risk, such as children and teenagers, older adults (men over 45 and women over 55) and people who are physically active outdoors.

In South Carolina, a daily ozone forecast is issued from April through September. You can use the forecast to help plan your outdoor activities. Let’s say that ozone air quality where you live is forecast to be code orange tomorrow. There’s a few steps you can take to reduce the amount of ozone you breathe. For instance, if you’re a runner – even if you’re healthy – ozone in the air can be harmful to you. Reduce the amount of ozone you breathe by planning your run for the morning (when ozone levels generally are lower), shortening your run, walking instead or running on a treadmill indoors (where ozone levels are lower). For gardeners, you can do less-strenuous chores, like light raking or pruning. You can also take more frequent breaks – resting reduces your exposure.

Stay alert this summer. Find your ozone forecast at AirNow, or receive daily forecast emails through EnviroFlash. A free AirNow app for iPhone or Android is also available. To access South Carolina forecasts by phone, call 1(866) 238-4973.

Cough…sneeze…and wheeze

By Jim Beasley


Some of us suffer more than others this time of year; allergies, coughing, sneezing, and running nose. But once allergy season subsides, many of us still have breathing difficulties. You might feel irritation in your throat, coughing- even wheezing. Whether you realize it or not, it could be due to ground-level ozone.

Ground-level ozone is one of the biggest parts of smog, and it’s usually worse in the summer months. When ground-level ozone is high, you might experience some of those breathing problems.

To help keep you aware of the health dangers associated with ozone, we recently began issuing daily ozone forecasts. Ozone is most likely to affect children, those of us with asthma or other respiratory problems, and adults who work or exercise outside. To help you better understand ground-level ozone, we recently filmed the following video with DHEC Environmental Health Manager Jack Porter.

Paying close attention to DHEC’s daily ozone forecast can help you have a healthier spring and summer. To get the latest ground-level ozone forecast, go to:

Learn more about what you can do to help reduce ozone, at http://www.scdhec.gov/ozone/HowtoHelpReduceOzone/. ​