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Health, Science, Environment

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Julie Monroe is accustomed to seeing deer around her Kirkwood neighborhood, but not this many.

On a recent evening, Monroe and her son counted 17 deer on the drive home from Manchester.

“It was dark outside, so we don’t know how many were beyond our vision,” she said.

The Bridgeton Landfill, pictured here, sits adjacent to the West Lake Landfill.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 5:45 p.m. with statement from Republic Services — The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has determined that past exposure to sulfur-based compounds in the air near the Bridgeton landfill may have harmed the health of area residents and workers.

In a report released Friday, health officials said the odors may have aggravated chronic conditions such as asthma or caused respiratory problems. That came as no surprise to area activists, who have long said emissions from the landfill are hazardous.

The department’s report notes that sulfur-based odors may occasionally affect the health or quality of life of people who live or work near the landfill. However, it notes that current gas emissions from the landfill likely are not harmful.

Deb Gaut recently founded a business that aims to help people over the age of 50 pursue their dreams whether it’s a different job or exciting hobby.

The business, Boomalally, offers workshops, counseling and a digital magazine to help people with a transition later in life.

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh will talk with Gaut in addition to Paul Weiss, president of Oasis Institute, a national nonprofit organization based in St. Louis that focuses on healthy aging.

Dr. Ken Druck, a psychologist, consultant and the author “Courageous Aging: Your Best Years Ever Reimagined,” will also join the program.

Attendees receive informational materials at the 2017 community health fair, organized by 100 Black Men of Metropolitan St. Louis.
100 Black Men of Metropolitan St. Louis

The organization 100 Black Men of Metropolitan St. Louis will host its 16th annual community health fair this weekend.

The event, held at Harris-Stowe State University, will feature a range of free health screenings for all ages, including blood pressure, cholesterol, hearing and vision tests. Organizers say the goal is to encourage community members to think more about their own health and wellness.

A sign outside the Missouri Network for Opiate Reform and Recovery advertises Narcan, a medication that can reverse an opioid overdose.
File photo |Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 3:45 p.m., Sept. 20, with comments from Surgeon General Jerome Adams — A nationwide campaign is needed to combat the opioid abuse epidemic that has damaged many families and communities, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said Thursday.

Adams and officials from the U.S. Health and Human Services department visited the St. Louis region to discuss the challenges communities face in dealing with opioid addiction. To address the crisis, Health and Human Services officials announced this week that the federal government will give states $1 billion to fight opioid addiction, including $44 million to Illinois and $29 million to Missouri.

A meeting at the Missouri Botanical Garden's Commerce Bank Education Center Sept. 19, 2018.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

As municipalities in the St. Louis region look for ways to continue single-stream recycling, a regional task force plans to educate residents on how to help sustain the services.

Since China imposed stricter standards in May on the amount of contamination allowed in mixed recyclables, processing companies have been forced to sell materials at a loss. That’s led Resource Management, a company that processes about 45 percent of residential single stream recycling in the St. Louis area, to suspend curbside recycling pickup on Nov. 1.

The study examined over 580,000 patient records collected over a 20-year period and found women were more likely to survive a heart attack when treated by a female doctor than a male doctor.
Maria Fabrizio | NPR

A new survey from the U.S. Census Bureau found the Missouri uninsured rate remained steady at 9.1 percent in 2017 despite several Congressional attempts to gut the Affordable Care Act and the repeal of the individual mandate, the requirement that all Americans have insurance.

Missouri’s percentage of uninsured people is in line with the national rate of 9 percent. The number of uninsured people nationwide has been falling since 2013, when it was 13.4 percent.

Astronaut Bob Behnken is a Pattonville High School graduate. He has physics and mechanical engineering degreees from Washington University. He earned advanced degrees from the California Institute of Technology.
NASA Kennedy | Flickr

Bob Behnken is helping NASA usher in a new era.

The astronaut, who grew up in St. Ann, has nearly 40 hours walking in the vacuum of space. Now he is part of the crew that will conduct the first human test flights for the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft.

The Arch lights will be turned off from Sept. 17 to Sept. 30, 2018.
Jason Lusk | Flickr

The lights illuminating the Gateway Arch will go dark for two weeks beginning Monday.

The decision is part of a biannual effort to avoid disrupting bird migrations along the Mississippi Flyway — a critical route used by more than 300 North American bird species. Light pollution from upward-facing spotlights can disorient birds that migrate at night and cause them to collide with buildings.

St. Louis County Health Director Faisal Khan, left, and County Executive Steve Stenger declare a public health emergency due to the opioid crisis at a press conference Thursday in Berkley.
Sarah Fentem | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County Department of Public Health Director Faisal Khan is leaving his post for a job in Kansas City.

Khan, who reports to County Executive Steve Stenger, said Friday that political tensions between the County Council and Stenger’s office have made it difficult to do his job.

“The gulf of trust that seems to have opened up between the two is the result of both sides being unwilling to come to the table and come to an agreement and understanding about the vital services provided in St. Louis County,” Khan said. “The apportionment of blame is equally to share.”

Amanda Moller prepares her formula in her home in University City. The formula is vital to treat a rare condition, but her insurer doesn't cover it.
Sarah Fentem | St. Louis Public Radio

Every day, Amanda Moller scoops powdered formula out of a can and shakes it up with water from her kitchen sink. It's like mixing a cocktail, she said, "but not that much fun."

The formula doesn’t taste great – like watery pudding with a biting, cheesy aftertaste. But it’s something Amanda needs to treat a rare metabolic condition she’s had since she was born. After 30 years, she’s gotten used to it.

Amanda’s employer-based insurance plan (through her husband’s employer) doesn’t cover it. Like many treatments for rare diseases, the lack of well-funded research and the tendency of insurers to focus on the bottom line mean sometimes patients can’t afford necessary medical supplies. Many of the 16,000 people in the United States who need the formula spend close to $1,000 a month to buy it.

An illustration of pollution, 2017
Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed adding the former site of a refrigerator-valve manufacturing facility in Washington, Missouri, to its National Priorities List.

Superfund sites that are added to the National Priorities List are eligible for federal funding for cleanup. The former site of the Sporlan Valve Plant, operational from 1939 until 1968, used industrial chemical solvents to make refrigerator parts.

Harmful contaminants such as benzene and trichloroethylene — or TCE — remained in the soil and groundwater over several decades. Exposure to such chemicals can cause cancer and damage to multiple organs.

Physician Sonny Saggar, left, nurse practitioner Michael Zappulla discuss the day's plans at North City Urgent Care, one of two urgent care clinics in north St. Louis.
Sarah Fentem | St. Louis Public Radio

One of the only urgent-care centers on St. Louis’ medically underserved north side is in danger of closing if it doesn’t receive more patients.

North City Urgent Care opened five years ago near North Skinker Parkway and Dr. Martin Luther King Drive. Since then, the center hasn’t posted a profit, owner Sonny Saggar said.

Although there are only two urgent-care clinics in north St. Louis, patient volume is low, Saggar said. On a typical day, there is only a handful of patients — far fewer than the 25 patients a day needed to turn a profit, he said.

“It’s a double-edged sword to have no competition on the north side but also limited awareness,” Saggar said. “I don’t think it’s because there’s not enough people; I think it’s because they’re not aware.”

Andrew Hurley is the historian for the five-year project “The Missouri Transect: Climate, Plants and the Community.”
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

The Great Flood of ’93 took a severe toll on St. Louis as an unprecedented weather phenomenon. But St. Louis is no stranger to floods, tornadoes, heat waves, ice storms and more.

Amid dealing with the effects of these events, St. Louisans should be aware that climate change has the potential to increase the frequency of them as well.

Conservationists say the population of Monarch butterflies has been declining since the late 1990s.
Courtesy of Missouri Department of Conservation

Missouri conservationists will hold a festival Saturday at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Weldon Spring Site in St. Charles to ask gardeners to help boost the declining population of Monarch butterflies.

Researchers say the population of the iconic butterflies has declined by 80 percent since the late 1990s, largely due to the loss of their habitats. 

Weldon Spring, which is best known as a federally managed nuclear waste site, now has a thriving native prairie garden that attracts Monarchs, said Bob Lee of Missourians for Monarchs, which is organizing the Monarch Madness festival.

From left, Nigel Darvell and Charles Whitehead discussed video-gaming addiction on Friday’s "St. Louis on the Air."
Caitlin Lally | St. Louis Public Radio

The World Health Organization recently announced that digital gaming can be addictive. The type of addiction falls under gaming disorder, which is “characterized by impaired control over gaming … to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities … despite the occurrence of negative consequences.”

Lead-based paint
Mike Mozart | Flickr

The Quincy Housing Authority has received $1 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to remove lead from its residential properties.

Housing officials in Quincy, Illinois, about 135 north of St. Louis, aim to address properties built in 1942. Houses built before the 1978 federal ban on lead-based paint most likely contain traces of lead. The HUD funds will be used to hire a contractor to conduct testing and lead abatement for five properties, which contain a total of 254 units.

From top, Shelby Zurick and Bart Andrews are a part of St. Louis' efforts in suicide prevention.
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

On average, one person in Missouri dies by suicide every eight hours. According to the Missouri Department of Mental Health, suicide rates are rising nationally, and at an even higher rate in Missouri. While those most at risk are Caucasian men 45 years and older, this phenomenon has a way of touching the lives of people across all demographics.

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, which offers an opportunity to shed light on a dark subject in an effort to reduce stigma and offer resources for support.

Saint Louis University Dean of Students Mona Hicks unloads donations at the soon-to-open Billiken Bounty food pantry on the university's campus.
Sarah Fentem | St. Louis Public Radio

Saint Louis University has announced it’s opening a food pantry to serve its students who lack access to healthy food.

At lunch on a given weekday, students have no fewer than 18 different restaurants on campus to find lunch. Chick-fil-A, Starbucks, Subway and Qdoba are all visible on-campus brands. Clubs seeking members put pizza and cupcakes on display to lure potential recruits. In an atmosphere so saturated with food, many would find it hard to believe students are going hungry.

But up to 10 percent of the university’s students don’t have regular access to healthy food, SLU Dean of Students Mona Hicks estimated.

“So today is day one,” Jossalyn Larson says in the first entry of a vlog she started this summer, “the first day after learning the results of my biopsy and confirming that I do have breast cancer.”
John Larson | St. Louis Public Radio

A diagnosis of cancer is a life-altering experience.

Jossalyn Larson, an English professor at Missouri S&T and resident of Owensville, Missouri, was diagnosed with breast cancer two months ago and is creating frequent updates on her YouTube channel and Facebook page.

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