South Carolina's Success

South Carolina Tracking’s MyFish Mercury Calculator Aids Consumers in Making Informed Dietary Decisions

South Carolina Environmental Tracking Program Logo

Lack of Fish Advisories for Small Ponds and Reservoirs in South Carolina

Mercury is a naturally occurring element that can be toxic to people, wildlife and the environment. While naturally found in our air, water, and soil, it is also released into the environment through numerous human activities, and it is found in many South Carolina water bodies. Mercury can build up in the tissue or muscle of fish, and can be dangerous to people who consume fish on a regular basis. Like other states, South Carolina has a Fish Consumption Advisory for rivers, large public lakes and reservoirs. However, about 14% of South Carolina residents primarily eat sport-caught fish from any of the 10,000 small ponds or reservoirs (2-50 acres) in the state, which were not represented by the advisory program.

Tracking Develops the MyFish Mercury Calculator

The South Carolina Environmental Public Health Tracking Program worked with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control’s Aquatic Biology section to create the MyFish Mercury Calculator. The goal of the MyFish Mercury Calculator is to produce a publicly available tool that allows citizens to better predict the levels of mercury in the fish they harvest and consume. Eating fish has many health benefits and providing accurate information on mercury levels in small ponds and reservoirs can help the public decide which species and/or amount of fish are safe to eat.

MyFish Mercury Calculator Allows Citizens to Make Informed Fish Consumption Decisions

Over 4000 people in South Carolina have used the the MyFish Mercury Calculator since it was launched in January 2015. MyFish uses a predictive model to calculate the amount of mercury in fish caught in small ponds and reservoirs across South Carolina. Users can enter specific information about their particular fishing situation and the calculator will provide customized consumption advice. In addition, the calculator educates consumers on the potential health risks associated with eating fish contaminated with mercury.

 

Protecting Adults from Lead Exposure

Entrance to construction site

What is the problem?

Even though lead poisoning often is considered to be a children’s health issue, hobbies or jobs can put adults at risk. Exposure to high levels of lead can damage the brain, nerves, and kidneys. Symptoms of lead exposure may not be noticed until blood lead levels are very high. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires blood lead testing for some workers to ensure that they are not overexposed to lead.

What did Tracking do?

The South Carolina Tracking Program built and maintains a database of blood lead testing results for the state. They initiate follow up for cases of elevated lead results in children. And, they partner with the SC Occupational Safety and Health Administration (SC OSHA) to monitor adult blood lead levels. Tracking staff create quarterly reports on elevated adult blood lead levels. SC OSHA uses the information in these reports to decide where to conduct targeted inspections of worksites where employees’ blood lead levels were above regulation limits.

Improved public health

The SC Tracking Program identified 89 cases of elevated blood lead levels in occupational settings in 2012. As a result, SC OSHA inspected four workplaces and issued citations containing 15 violations. Some worksites were required to pay fines and all were required to reduce lead exposures. Workers in these locations now have safer work environments where their risk for lead exposure has been decreased or eliminated.

 

Making environmental health data accessible to everyone

South Carolina Environmental Tracking Program Logo

What is the problem?

Environmental public health data are often difficult to explain in plain language. Public health and environmental professionals use technical terms to describe such data. But if information is too hard to understand, people will not use South Carolina’s Tracking Network.

What did Tracking do?

South Carolina’s Environmental Public Health Tracking Program is working toward showing and describing data simply. For example, a section of each topic area on the Web site will use everyday examples to describe complex scientific concepts.

Improved public health

People are more likely to use easy-to-understand information, tools, and data. Armed with knowledge, people can make better decisions about reducing health risk and improving overall health. Encouraging use of the state tracking network may increase awareness about environmental health issues. It might also help to explain why the state needs to take certain actions to protect the environment.

 

Sharing information about the coastal environment

Sandals on a beach

What is the problem?

South Carolina’s large, densely populated coastal area attracts tourists year round. Currently, no one resource informs people about all coastal area issues such as beach conditions and closures.

What did Tracking do?

The South Carolina Tracking Program partnered with state and federal agencies to develop a Coastal EnvironmentExternal Web page. This Web page is now a content area on South Carolina’s EPHT Web site.

Improved public health

Residents and visitors to South Carolina’s coastal area now have access to information such as:

  • Real-time weather,
  • Environmental advisories and closures,
  • Beach conditions, and
  • Marine animal diseases.

This information helps residents and visitors better understand how the state’s coastal environment may affect travel plans and health.

 

South Carolina’s Grantee ProfileCdc-pdf

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Page last reviewed: March 9, 2018