DHEC holds groundbreaking ceremony for state’s new Public Health and Environmental Laboratory


Today, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) held a groundbreaking ceremony at the future site of the state of South Carolina’s $116.5 million Public Health and Environmental Laboratory.

The 140,000 square-foot facility, scheduled to open in the fall of 2026, will replace the existing state laboratory built nearly 50 years ago to specifications that could no longer accommodate the advances in technology and testing that have taken place since.

“This new laboratory is of enormous importance to the health and safety of the people of South Carolina,” said Dr. Edward Simmer, DHEC director. “The challenges that the old lab presented have all been remarkably addressed in this design, which will not only allow us to increase the volume and quality of testing services we provide the state but also give us the flexibility for growth and ability to adapt to the changing technological needs of the future.”

Seema Shrivastava-Patel, Chairwoman of the S.C. Board of Health and Environmental Control, said the new lab represents the opportunity to leave a lasting and positive legacy for the people of South Carolina.

“From recognizing the critical need for a new lab to taking it to the legislature and securing the funding, this project represents the culmination of a lot of hard work and passion for the well-being of the people of South Carolina,” Shrivastava-Patel said. “The role this lab plays in disease prevention and control, food safety, emergency preparedness, environmental protection and so much more is truly profound.

“This forward-thinking project helps ensure our state has equal and equitable healthcare resources and is a great example of what the people of South Carolina can accomplish working together with a common goal and purpose, which is to protect our state’s human and environmental resources for generations to come.”

Designed by Caplea Coe Architects in association with HDR Architecture and constructed by Whiting-Turner Contracting Company, the new laboratory is on pace to receive Three Gold Globe certification, an EPA-recognized rating system that evaluates environmental sustainability, health and wellness, and resiliency.

Key features of the new lab include an increased capacity to respond to chemical or biological public health emergencies; increased capacity for newborn screenings, infectious disease surveillance and testing for exposure to toxic substances; and a state-of-the-art particulate matter laboratory and air toxics laboratory that will allow for greater study of airborne pollutants that impact public health.

“In addition to the work done on the public health side of the lab, all the soil, air, food and water testing done by DHEC is performed at this laboratory, from testing for lead to rabies to soil or groundwater pollutants,” said Myra Reece, DHEC Environmental Affairs Director. “The new lab gives us much-needed space to enhance and improve critical testing for shellfish, low-level mercury, PFAS and PFOS and other emerging contaminants so that we have the best, most robust data possible with which to make decisions about protecting South Carolinians.”

“Our environmental lab analyzes air, water, wastewater, soil and fish tissue samples in its organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, microbiology, radiochemistry and air laboratories,” said Myra Reece, DHEC Environmental Affairs Director. “Testing performed by these laboratories helps us determine compliance with laws and regulations, respond to emergencies and proactively identify emerging environmental issues

“The new lab also gives us much-needed space to enhance critical testing for shellfish, low-level mercury and to meet future testing needs for emerging contaminants so that we have the best, most robust data possible with which to make decisions about protecting South Carolinians.”

In addition to increased space for laboratory testing, the new facility also includes increased space for training, education, collaboration and research and incorporates the latest in laboratory safety and security.