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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Health - Consumer Protection
2:44 pm
Thu August 7, 2014

Missouri To Receive Close To $700,000 As Part Of Nationwide Kidney Drug Settlement

The drug sirolimus, marketed by Pfizer subsidiary Wyeth under the brand name Rapamune, is only FDA approved for use after kidney transplants to prevent organ rejection.
Credit U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health

Missouri will receive $693,000 as part of a nationwide settlement over the kidney transplant drug, Rapamune.

Neighboring Illinois will get more than $1.3 million.

The drug company Pfizer, whose subsidiary Wyeth makes Rapamune, has agreed to pay out a total of $35 million to 41 U.S. states and the District of Columbia as part of the settlement.

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Climate Change
6:48 pm
Tue August 5, 2014

Missouri Institutions To Share $20 Million Grant To Study Climate Change

Part of the NSF grant will be used to study the effects of drought on plants, in particular corn. This image shows leaves of a single species of plant (not corn), grown under normal and drought conditions. An infrared scan can detect chemical changes in the drought-stressed leaf that are invisible to the human eye.
Credit Mikhail Berezin, Washington University

Updated 8/6/14:

The National Science Foundation has awarded $20 million to academic and research institutions across Missouri to study climate change.

Five states, plus the U.S. Virgin Islands, have received one of the NSF’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) grants.

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Invasive Species
4:36 pm
Mon August 4, 2014

Sweet-Smelling Honeysuckle Is A Not-So-Sweet Invader

These billboards are part of an invasive honeysuckle education campaign, by the environmental fundraising organization Magnificent Missouri. Dan Burkhardt, who founded Magnificent Missouri, is a major donor to St. Louis Public Radio.
Credit Magnificent Missouri

You may have seen the billboards, calling honeysuckle an "enemy of the state."

Huh?

It turns out that pretty bush with its fragrant, white and yellow flowers isn't so sweet after all.

Erin Shank is an urban wildlife biologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation. But she spends a lot of her time these days trying to get rid of invasive honeysuckle.

"We certainly have quite a bit of it, no doubt about that," Shank said. "And it’s a bugger of a plant to control and manage."

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Bridgeton Landfill
5:49 pm
Fri August 1, 2014

Bridgeton Landfill Owner To Pay More Than $4.6 Million To Neighboring Homeowners

Republic Services, the owner of the Bridgeton landfill, has agreed to pay almost $6.9 million to about 400 homeowners who had said that the landfill’s odors had damaged their property values.
Credit Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio

(Updated at 5:30 p.m., Fri., Aug.1, 2014)

A U.S. District Court has finalized a lawsuit settlement between Bridgeton Landfill owner Republic Services and hundreds of people living near the landfill.

Under the settlement, Republic will pay a total of at least $4.6 million to compensate 947 current and former area residents.

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Research Labs
6:17 pm
Thu July 31, 2014

National Report Led By Wash U Provost Promotes Chemical Safety At Universities

Credit U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

A new national report says more should be done to promote the safe use of chemicals at universities.

Washington University Provost Holden Thorp chaired the committee that wrote the National Research Council report.

He said the group sought to take lessons learned from safety incidents in fields such as health care, aviation and manufacturing, and apply them to academic chemistry research.

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West Lake Landfill
6:13 pm
Thu July 31, 2014

EPA Concludes Bridgeton Ball Fields Pose No Radiation Health Risk

The EPA has released the final results of its radiation testing at BMAC. The report says no levels were found that pose a human health risk.
Credit Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio

Soil tests conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency show no health risk from radiation at the Bridgeton Municipal Athletic Complex.

The agency released its final report on the athletic complex on Thursday.

The complex sits less than a mile from the West Lake Landfill, which holds World War II-era radioactive waste illegally dumped there in the 1970s.

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Gaslight Square
11:17 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

Twelve St. Louisans Take Us Back To The Mid-Century Heyday Of Gaslight Square

This publicity poster showcases the wide variety of attractions on offer in Gaslight Square, from jazz clubs to fine French dining. There was even a Japanese restaurant ― a novelty in the Midwest of the 1960s.
Courtesy of the Charlie Menees Collection, UMKC.

It spanned less than three blocks at the intersection of Olive and Boyle. And it only lasted about ten years.

But the arts and entertainment district known as Gaslight Square flourished in the 1950s and '60s, making St. Louis a national destination for music and culture.

In honor of St. Louis' 250th birthday, I took a little detour off my usual science beat to explore this extraordinary time and place in our city's history.

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Coal Ash
4:54 am
Fri July 25, 2014

Labadie Residents Win One Legal Challenge Against Ameren's Coal Ash Landfill ― And File Another

Franklin County residents hold up signs to show their opposition to Ameren's landfill plans at a meeting of the county commission in 2011, just before the commission voted to change its zoning regulations to allow coal ash landfills.
Credit Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 7/25/14 with information on a new lawsuit.

The Labadie Environmental Organization (LEO) has filed another lawsuit in their long-running campaign to prevent Ameren from building a coal ash landfill in Franklin County.

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Health Care Workforce
11:05 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

The Number Of Health Care Workers With Low Education Levels Is Rising ― But Their Wages Aren't

In St. Louis, about a third of health care workers with less than a bachelor's degree were in households making less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level, or $44,700 for a family of four in 2011.
Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program

About half of the health care workers in the St. Louis area have less than a bachelor's degree.

The number of health care workers with lower levels of education is on the rise here but for the most part, their salaries are not.

That puts the St. Louis region in line with the national trend, according to a new report released on Thursday by the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program.

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Affordable Care Act
12:09 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

Differing Court Rulings On Obamacare Mean One Thing: Nothing Changes For Now

Will people from Missouri and Illinois who bought health insurance on the federal exchange lose their subsidies?
Credit (via Flickr/Jennifer Boriss)

On Tuesday, two federal appeals courts issued conflicting decisions that could have major ramifications for the future of the Affordable Care Act.

The controversy hinges on whether people in the 36 states that opted NOT to set up their own health insurance exchanges can qualify for subsidies (really, tax credits) on their health insurance premiums. Missouri and Illinois are among those 36 that don't have state-run exchanges.

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