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About DHEC

DHEC - What We Do

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control touches the life of every South Carolinian every day. Each year, agency staff:

  • Make about 70,000 visits to restaurants across the state to review and rate food safety practices and counsel managers on making improvements;
  • Perform more than 650,000 lab tests to screen newborns for a range of health conditions;
  • Ensure that infectious waste — nearly 8,000 tons generated by more than 5,000 facilities in South Carolina — is packaged, transported and disposed of in a safe manner;
  • Operate a statewide network of public health clinics, serving more than 400,000 individuals;
  • Provide funding, education and technical assistance for more than 100 recycling programs;
  • Educate farmers on the dangers posed by overuse of antibiotics in animals raised for dairy and food and show them how to minimize damage to water quality from animal waste;
  • Perform around 250,000 lab tests to identify microbiological, radiological and chemical contaminants;
  • Issue about 300,000 copies of birth, death, marriage and divorce certificates;
  • Respond to hazardous chemical releases, oil spills, hurricanes and other environmental emergencies whenever they occur, around the clock;
  • Order and distribute about 1.8 million doses of vaccine to more than 580 enrolled immunization practices;
  • Monitor industrial emissions and advise companies on how to minimize air pollution and solid and hazardous waste;
  • Provide home health care services to residents in underserved areas;
  • Advise legislators on health and environmental consequences of proposed laws;
  • Inspect nearly 20,000 nursing homes to ensure they are complying with state and federal standards before we certify them for government reimbursements;
  • Administer the Best Chance Network, which pays for breast and cervical cancer screenings for more than 10,000 15,000 low income and uninsured women ages 40-64;
  • Perform more than 170,000 lab tests for sexually transmitted diseases and coordinate funding for nearly 60 local services for HIV/AIDS patients;
  • Issue more than 24,000 environmental permits;
  • Inspect hospitals and track hospital-acquired infection rates for select procedures;
  • Evaluate and issue Certificates of Need for new or expanding health care facilities;
  • Analyze data on births and deaths to assess the state's health status;
  • Monitor the quality of public water supplies;
  • Work with local veterinarians to coordinate low-cost rabies clinics that vaccinate more than 30,000 pets;
  • Educate children about dental health;
  • Investigate approximately 7,000 pollution allegations;
  • Manage 578,000 acres of shellfish harvesting waters, inspect 250 shellfish handling facilities, and analyze around 5,500 water samples to assess shellfish harvesting waters;
  • Evaluate sites for septic tank suitability, inspect septic tank installations for new homes, and issue about 25,000 permits to operate septic tanks;
  • License 1,200 septic tank installers, pumpers and haulers, and inspect vehicles used to pump or transport sewage;
  • Track 12,000 underground storage tanks for possible pollution leaks;
  • Certify emergency medical services staff and their equipment;
  • Authorize hazardous waste transport;
  • Conduct nearly 30,000 sanitation inspections on more than 6,500 public pools and recreational water facilities (such as water parks);
  • Operate tobacco-prevention programs and help youth and adults quit smoking;
  • Inspect sewage treatment facilities;
  • Provide nutrition counseling and food supplements to women and children through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) serving an average of 134,000 clients per month;
  • Evaluate proposed development affecting wetlands;
  • License 22 facilities that use or store radioactive materials;
  • Inspect about 75 dairies and a dozen soft drink plants, and perform over 20,000 tests on milk and dairy products;
  • Perform lab testing for over 90 percent of the state's tuberculosis patients and maintain a statewide TB registry to help control the spread of the disease;
  • Issue daily ozone forecasts April 1 - September 30 for a 34-county area;
  • Develop and enforce regulations that carry out state and federal laws concerning public health and the environment*;
  • Investigate infectious disease outbreaks of public health significance affecting more than 4,000 residents statewide;
  • Statewide monitoring and treatment of over 200 tuberculosis patients;
  • Enhance coastal tourism through the preservation and restoration of the public beach;
  • Partner with coastal communities and local governments to promote public access to beaches;
  • Protect and restore the health and safety of coastal waterways through the identification and removal of abandoned vessels and marine debris;
  • And much more.

* See the South Carolina Code of Laws and the federal government’s USA.gov Web site