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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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.

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.

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."

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

(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.

NASA

Forty-five years ago this Sunday, Apollo 11 became the first space flight to land men on the moon.

At Mission Control in Houston, Gene Kranz was the man in charge.

Kranz spent more than three decades working for the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, serving as flight director for both the Gemini and Apollo space programs.

Map provided by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources

Updated 7/3/14 with a link to the state's finalized Incident Management Plan for the Bridgeton Landfill.

State agency officials are concerned that the underground fire at the Bridgeton Landfill could break through to the surface.

That scenario was raised in a recent memo by landfill fire expert Todd Thalhamer, who has been consulting for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

Image courtesy of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources

The Missouri Public Service Commission has signed off on Ameren Missouri's plan to build a coal ash landfill at its power plant in Franklin County.

The five member commission unanimously granted the utility company’s request for a Certificate of Convenience and Necessity on Wednesday. That certificate gives Ameren the ability to expand the area of its Labadie power plant to build the new landfill.

U.S. EPA Region 7

Preliminary radiation screening at the Bridgeton Municipal Athletic Complex (BMAC) suggests the ball fields do not pose a risk to public health.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released the results on Thursday.

The athletic fields are less than a mile from the West Lake Landfill, an EPA Superfund site containing radioactive waste.

Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio

The local NAACP says air pollution from coal-fired power plants is having a disproportionate impact on the health of African Americans in the St. Louis area.

The civil rights organization joined the Sierra Club, Missouri State Senator Jamilah Nasheed and others on Wednesday to rally in favor of the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed limits on carbon dioxide emissions.

Missouri Department of Natural Resources

 UPDATED 6/20/14 to correct description of radioactivity testing along waste haul routes.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster has reached a new agreement with Bridgeton Landfill owner Republic Services.

It includes additional measures that Republic must take to monitor the movement of an underground fire at the landfill and to control the foul odors ― and potentially toxic gases ― emanating from it.

Those measures include:

Gov. Jay Nixon signed an executive order on Wednesday, officially launching the development of a comprehensive state energy plan.

Air pollution from coal-fired power plants, industrial activities, and cars contributes to asthma and other health problems in the St. Louis area.
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.

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.

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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