Véronique LaCapra

Science Reporter

Science reporter Véronique LaCapra first caught the radio bug writing commentaries for NPR affiliate WAMU in Washington, D.C. After producing her first audio documentaries at the Duke Center for Documentary Studies in N.C., she was hooked! She has done ecological research in the Brazilian Pantanal; regulated pesticides for the Environmental Protection Agency in Arlington, Va.; been a freelance writer and volunteer in South Africa; and contributed radio features to the Voice of America in Washington, D.C. She earned a Ph.D. in ecosystem ecology from the University of California in Santa Barbara, and a B.A. in environmental policy and biology from Cornell. LaCapra grew up in Cambridge, Mass., and in her mother’s home town of Auxerre, France.

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Climate Change — Air Pollution
8:38 pm
Mon June 9, 2014

National Analysis Suggests Cutting Carbon Dioxide Would Improve Air Quality In Missouri

Coal-fired power plants produce pollutants including sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and mercury.
Credit Syracuse University News Services

Cutting carbon dioxide emissions from power plants would also reduce other types of air pollution, both here in Missouri and nationally.

That's according to a recent analysis by researchers at Harvard and Syracuse Universities.

Along with carbon dioxide, coal-fired power plants emit other pollutants, like sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. Those in turn can contribute to forming particle pollution, ozone, and smog.

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Disease Outbreak
5:04 pm
Thu June 5, 2014

Wash Your Hands, People!

Thorough hand washing with soap and water is the best way to prevent the spread of shigellosis.
Credit U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Saint Louis County is seeing an unusual spike in a bacterial disease that affects children in daycare centers.

The county has received 71 reports of shigellosis since the start of 2014 ― that’s compared to only a couple of cases in the same time period last year.

Dr. Faisal Khan, the St. Louis County Department of Health's director of communicable disease control, said the disease has obvious symptoms.

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Gut Microbes and Malnutrition
12:02 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

Study: Poor Gut Health Persists In Malnourished Children, Even After Treatment

A Bangladeshi mother holds her malnourished child.
Credit Rabiul Hasan, International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research

New research out of Washington University could help explain why malnourished children suffer long-term health effects, even after medical treatment.

As young children develop, the community of bacteria and other microbes in their intestines develops with them. In healthy children, the community reaches maturity about the time a child turns two years old.

Washington University microbiologist Jeff Gordon calls those tens of trillions of intestinal microbes “an organ within an organ,” because of the key role they play in helping people digest food and absorb its nutrients.

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Climate Change
8:18 pm
Mon June 2, 2014

New Carbon Dioxide Limits Could Mean Big Changes For Coal-Powered States Like Missouri, Illinois

Coal is transported by train from Wyoming to fuel Ameren Missouri's power plants, like this one in Labadie.
Credit Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed the first-ever rules to cut carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants. The proposal sparked immediate debate over the impact, especially in states such as Missouri that depend heavily on coal.

The new regulations would reduce carbon pollution from the power sector by 30 percent nationwide by 2030, compared to 2005 emissions levels.

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For the Sake of All
5:00 am
Fri May 30, 2014

Report: Racial Health Disparities Affect Everyone In St. Louis, Not Just African Americans

For the Sake of All was a multidisciplinary study on the health and well-being of African Americans in St. Louis City and County.
Credit For the Sake of All

If your skin isn’t black, why should you care about the health and well-being of African Americans in the St. Louis region?

That’s just one of the questions Washington University public health researcher Jason Purnell and his team set out to answer in a project called For the Sake of All.

Purnell, along with colleagues from Washington University and St. Louis University, assessed racial health disparities in the region and their larger impact over the course of 14 months.

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Coal Ash
5:15 pm
Wed May 28, 2014

Critics See Danger In Coal Ash Landfill's Intermittent Contact With Groundwater

This map shows groundwater drinking wells near Ameren's proposed coal ash landfill in Franklin County. It was created for the Labadie Environmental Organization based on Missouri Department of Natural Resources well location data.
Credit Image courtesy of the Labadie Environmental Organization

Updated on Wed., May 28.

Critics of Ameren's proposed coal ash landfill in Franklin County argued Tuesday that it would sometimes be sitting in groundwater.

That's a problem, because most Franklin County residents get their drinking water from groundwater wells ― and coal ash contains toxic substances like arsenic and lead.

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West Lake Landfill
9:00 pm
Fri May 9, 2014

EPA To Test Popular Bridgeton Baseball Fields For Radiation

The EPA will scan all the outdoor areas of the Bridgeton Municipal Athletic Complex, except the parking lots, for gamma radiation. The playing fields will remain open in the meantime.
Credit Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 5/9/14 after EPA press conference:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will soon begin testing a popular athletic complex in Bridgeton for radiation.

Radiation screening at the Bridgeton Municipal Athletic Complex (BMAC) is scheduled to begin the week of May 19.

In a written statement released on Wednesday, EPA Regional Administrator Karl Brooks said the planned testing was prompted by a need to resolve “public concerns generated by residents using donated radiation detection equipment.”

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St. Louis on the Air
5:05 am
Tue May 6, 2014

More Illinois Farmers Are Embracing High Tech Ag ― But Is 'Big Data' Too Much Like 'Big Brother?'

A farmer uses Monsanto's FieldScripts program to plant his field.
Credit Via Monsanto

Farmers have been collecting data about their farms for decades.

Now all those data are going high tech. Major agricultural companies like Monsanto, John Deere and DuPont have been developing more ways to mine that than ever before – all in the name of helping farmers make better decisions about when to plant, what to plant and how much.

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Drug Take-Back Event
9:49 am
Thu April 24, 2014

Got Unwanted Prescription Drugs? Get Rid Of Them On Saturday

Credit Flickr/e-MagineArt.com

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration on Saturday is sponsoring a nationwide prescription drug take-back event.

Between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., anyone can turn in their expired or unwanted medications at thousands of police stations, pharmacies, and other sites across the country, including here in St. Louis.

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Wildlife Conservation
3:54 pm
Tue April 22, 2014

New St. Louis Initiative Encourages Residents To Plant "Milkweeds For Monarchs"

A female monarch collects nectar from a milkweed flower.
Lincoln Brower

The City of St. Louis and several partners are launching a project to help monarch butterflies.

It involves encouraging area residents to plant milkweeds -- a plant with large fruit pods that release fluffy seeds in the fall.

The Saint Louis Zoo is one of the partners in the “Milkweeds for Monarchs” initiative, along with the Missouri Botanical Garden and the Missouri Department of Conservation.

The zoo's curator of invertebrates, Edward Spevak, says milkweeds are critical to the monarch’s survival.

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