“Health cannot be considered apart from environmental, social and
The environment in which a man lives is as important to his health as is access to physician and hospital.”
Dr. Kenneth Aycock, DHEC Commissioner, 1967-1978
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is the state agency charged with protecting public health, coastal resources, and the state's land, air and water quality as authorized under multiple state and federal laws. Approximately 3,500 full-time DHEC employees around the state support communities in promoting health, provide vital healthcare and other direct services, monitor pollution, coordinate disease control, carry out the agency's inspection and regulatory responsibilities, respond to environmental emergencies, and protect public health and the environment in numerous other ways.
Healthy People Living in Healthy Communities is a 12 minute video overview of the agency. It touches on DHEC's vast responsibilities and roles and demonstrates how South Carolinians and the state are affected each day by the work the agency performs.
Currently, 84 percent of DHEC's work is funded by the federal government and by grants, fees for services and licenses, and other sources. The State of South Carolina funds 16 percent of DHEC's work. These numbers are for fiscal year 2013, which began July 1, 2012 and ends June 30, 2013.
State lawmakers created South Carolina’s first State Board of Health in 1878, after a series of yellow fever outbreaks killed 20,000 Americans. A physician worked part-time to administer the agency’s $2,000 budget.
In 1950, fish kills and streams polluted with sewage and industrial waste prompted lawmakers to add a Water Pollution Control Authority Board to the State Board of Health. When air pollution control was added in 1965, the environmental arm was renamed the Pollution Control Authority.
After a short-lived organizational split in 1970, the Pollution Control Authority and the State Board of Health were reunited in 1973 to form DHEC.
Legislators have since added hazardous waste management to DHEC’s roster of responsibilities (1978) and transferred three other state agencies to DHEC — the South Carolina Coastal Council, the Water Resources Commission, and part of the State Land Resources Conservation Commission (1993).
For more information, see our Public Health History site.
South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control
2600 Bull Street
Columbia, South Carolina 29201
(803) 898-DHEC (3432)