Health, Science, Environment | St. Louis Public Radio

Health, Science, Environment

Health, science, and environmental news

A fire rages out of control in a warehouse after walls collapsed during a five-alarm fire in St. Louis last Wednesday. Nearly 200 St. Louis firefighters battled the warehouse containing numerous paper products and nearly 200,000 candles.
BILL GREENBLATT | UPI

Environmental Protection Agency officials say there is no evidence of asbestos in the debris from an intense fire that occurred in south St. Louis last week. 

Officials from the EPA and the St. Louis City Department of Health presented the findings at a Shaw Neighborhood Association meeting Monday night. The EPA sent 80 samples to a laboratory to be tested for asbestos. The first 21 were sampled on Friday in areas close to the warehouse on Park Avenue and test results indicated that three of them contained asbestos fibers.

That prompted the city department of health to request additional samples that were collected the next day in areas downwind from the site.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: October 1, 2008 - I first suspected that Boswell's life would be shortened after he bit my wife on our nuptial bed. Boswell was my dog, a feisty Toto-like terrier who shared my bachelor bed and resented the intrusion of a woman where he felt a dog -- Boswell -- ought to be. As it turns out, my suspicion was correct, and he did not live out the year. Staying with others while I and my bride were overseas, Boswell resented being denied chicken bones, ate them anyway, and died of the consequences. To this day I miss him.

A fire rages out of control in a warehouse after walls collapsed during a five-alarm fire in St. Louis on Nov. 15, 2017. Nearly 200 St. Louis firefighters battled the warehouse containing numerous paper products and nearly 200,000 candles.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Earlier this week during an intense fire at a warehouse in south St. Louis, St. Louis Fire Deputy Chief Brian Walsh called for a fire engine to sound its horn – an audible signal telling firefighters to get out of the building and away from the fire.

“That evacuation call saved lives,” said Capt. Garon Mosby of the St. Louis Fire Department. “That evacuation was probably one of the best things happening because we had members on the roof and quite a few members in the basement.”

An illustration of prescription drugs.
Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

President Donald Trump's proposal to cut the National Institutes of Health 2018 budget by more than a fifth could severely hamper the ability to deliver life-saving treatments to patients, according to a report by Washington University researchers.

In a study published Thursday in the journal Cell Chemical Biology, researchers looked at 100 of the most prescribed drugs and drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the last decade. The NIH funded 93 percent of the 100 widely prescribed drugs and 97 percent of drugs approved between 2010 and 2016.

Monsanto's widely-used weed killer Roundup on a shelf in Home Depot.
File photo | Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

Monsanto and several growers associations filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday against the state of California for adding the herbicide ingredient glyphosate to a list of cancer-causing substances. 

California's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment announced in July it would add glyphosate to Proposition 65. Known as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, the California law requires the state to publish a list of substances known to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity.

Lara Hamdan / St. Louis Public Radio

Universal design involves designing buildings, products and services that meet the accessibility needs of everyone. It can help people with disabilities, but it’s intended for everyone.

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked about how the use of universal design can help people with disabilities and can improve the overall safety and quality of life of all people when used during disasters.

Arianna Soldati,  a postdoctoral candidate in volcanology at the University of Missouri-Columbia, presents a basaltic rock, which she collected from a volcano for her research.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

One night at an airport in Syracuse, New York, Arianna Soldati, a postdoctoral candidate in volcanology at the University of Missouri-Columbia, found herself waiting on a continually delayed flight. To pass the time, she opened her suitcase and fished out a bag of volcanic rocks she had collected on a recent trip. Then, she started showing them to people at her gate. 

"Everyone was really excited. Most people have never seen lava before and they had a ton of questions and the delay went by faster than usual," Soldati said. 

Soldati has always found joy in sharing her research with the public, which is why she created a science outreach program this fall to bring science presentations to rural towns in Missouri.

42 cases of chronic wasting disease, a fatal neurological disease, has been found in white-tailed deer in Missouri.
Bill Bumgarner | Flickr

The Missouri Department of Conservation is conducting a mandatory chronic wasting disease tissue sampling of deer killed in 25 select counties this Saturday and Sunday.

Deer hunters will be required to bring all harvested white-tailed deer to a designated sampling station to test if it has chronic wasting disease— or CWD. It’s a fatal neurological disease, which causes the breakdown of brain tissue in deer.

Lara Hamdan / St. Louis Public Radio

Transition from jail back to the community can be a difficult process that often leads to repeat offenses and more jail time.

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked about local efforts to improve the health outcomes for people re-entering their communities after time in jail. St. Louis Integrated Health Network’s Re-Entry Community Linkages (RE-LINK) program helps make the transition easier.

Tower for drilling horizontally into the Marcellus Shale Formation for natural gas in Moreland Township, Pa.
Ruhrfisch | Wikimedia Commons

Natural gas company Spire could soon win federal approval to build a 65-mile pipeline that ferries natural gas from eastern U.S. shale formations to the St. Louis region. However, some residents and environmental lawyers want to put a halt to the project, saying there are too many environmental risks involved with building the pipeline. 

The Spire STL Pipeline would run through Scott, Greene and Jersey counties in Illinois and St. Charles and St. Louis counties in Missouri. Because it crosses state lines, it requires approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which released an environmental assessment of the project at the end of September.

Area residents and environmentalists complain that the project would only encourage more hydraulic fracturing, an activity that emits methane, one of several greenhouse gases that causes climate change.

Lara Hamdan / St. Louis Public Radio

None of former International Space Station commander Scott Kelly’s life experiences would have happened had he not read Tom Wolfe’s “The Right Stuff.”

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked with Kelly about his new memoir, "Endurance: A Year in Space, a Lifetime of Discovery,” and a new PBS film, "Beyond a Year in Space."

Lara Hamdan / St. Louis Public Radio

The Climate Change Theatre action put theater and advocacy together to bring awareness to the harmful environmental impacts of climate change. The action began on Oct. 1 and runs through Nov. 18 – involving over 225 events in 40 countries.

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked about a local production of short plays inspired by climate change and the current attitudes towards science.

Analysis: Transplant system fails many patients here

Nov 5, 2017

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 7, 2008 - It has been nearly 25 years since the nation passed the National Organ Transplant Act, which created a system for procuring organs and distributing them. It barred the sale of organs from either deceased or living donors.

The St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station is expected to open in 2019.
St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station

Work will begin later this month on a new aquarium at Union Station in downtown St. Louis.

Officials gathered Thursday for a groundbreaking ceremony for the two-story, 120,000-square-foot aquarium that will house aquatic life that can be found in the ocean and the nearby Missouri and Mississippi rivers.

The St. Louis Veterans Home on Lewis and Clark Boulevard in St. Louis County.
Provided | Missouri Veteran's Commission

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is calling for a fourth investigation in less than six months of the St. Louis Veterans Home in north St. Louis County, following a public meeting Monday where relatives and staff accused the facility of neglecting patients.

“These allegations are deeply disturbing,” Greitens, a Republican, wrote in a statement. “We will continue to demand the best for our veterans, and we will hold accountable those responsible for their care.”

Open enrollment for people who buy their own health insurance starts Wednesday and ends Dec. 15. That means there are only 45 days to shop for coverage. The shorter enrollment period this year is just one of the changes to the process for buying insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

Here are five important factors to keep in mind if you plan to sign up for ACA coverage for 2018.

1. The health law has not been repealed.

Despite the efforts of President Trump and the Republican-led Congress, the Affordable Care Act remains the law of the land.

Veterans Home resident Curtis Washington, who served during the Korean War, shares his concerns. His wife Sandra holds the microphone.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

This story has been updated.

Missed medications. Falsified records. A veteran with dementia placed in a scalding hot shower, unable to move.

One by one, concerned family members and employees of the St. Louis Veteran’s Home — some angry, others in tears — took to a microphone at North Kirkwood Middle School late Monday. They alleged that the 300-bed facility in north St. Louis County is so mismanaged that its care of aging residents amounts to neglect. Patients with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias are particularly vulnerable, they said.  

A drone flies near a bridge
Sodapix | Thinkstock

Missouri could soon send flying drones to the state's bridges, using them to doing difficult and dangerous work long done by workers.

About 56,000 bridges in the United States require major repairs, according to the Federal Highway Administration. Missouri ranks No. 4 in the country for its number of structurally deficient bridges. 

Photographs taken during an investigation of fair housing compliance by the Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing and Opportunity Council.
Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing and Opportunity Council

A fair housing advocacy organization has filed federal complaints against five new apartment complexes in the St. Louis area.

The Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing and Opportunity Council claims the buildings do not meet accessibility standards for people with disabilities, further restricting an already limited supply of accessible housing in the region.

Sidney Watson, the Jane and Bruce Robert Professor at Saint Louis University’s Health Law Policy Center
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, Don Marsh talked with Saint Louis University health law professor Sidney Watson about the just released 2018 premiums for policies through the Affordable Care Act and discuss how Missourians and St. Louisans will fare.

This Behind the Headlines discussion was a follow-up to a conversation about what's happening with healthcare in the United States.

A nursing student practices taking a blood sample for a lead test on a volunteer in Jennings.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio.

When a child has an elevated amount of lead in their blood, it’s often up to Tammi Holmes to find the source.

Once, it was a packet of turmeric, brought home after an international trip. Another time, it was the metal letter on an apartment door, traced by a little girl every day as she learned the alphabet.

“We’re missing a lot of kids,” Holmes told a group of educators during a free-testing day at the Gary Gore Elementary School in Jennings. "Sometimes people don't think about things like that, until we have that conversation." 

Bob Brody (L) and Robin Feder (R)
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

The Central Institute for the Deaf (CID) in St. Louis has been serving deaf children throughout the country for more than one hundred years.

“It was founded in 1914 by an ear, nose, and throat doctor in St. Louis, Dr. Max Goldstein,” said Robin Feder, CID’s executive director who previously taught at the school. “He had gone to Europe and seen deaf children being taught to talk there and thought he wanted to bring that new educational philosophy back to St. Louis.”

CID is different than most schools for deaf children in that teachers do not teach sign language.

Michael Okello arranges his cassava harvest, untouched by viruses.
File photo | Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

To prove that a new-gene editing technology could be used to alter the cassava plant, scientists in the St. Louis suburbs zeroed in on a gene used to process chlorophyll. Before long, they had petri dishes full of seedlings that were white as chalk.

The plan is to use CRISPR — a cheaper, faster way to genetically modify crops — to grow cassava plants that are resistant to common plant viruses threatening food supplies in East Africa. But regulatory agencies have yet to finalize how they will treat the new crops.

“It’s only really been available for use in plants for three, four years,” said principal investigator Nigel Taylor, of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in Creve Coeur. “Right now, it’s an experimental tool.”

Lara Hamdan / St. Louis Public Radio

More people are dying annually from overdosing on opioids compared to HIV, car accidents and gun violence. And Missouri is no exception.

“The opioid crisis is the biggest public health emergency of our lifetimes,” said Rachel Winograd, assistant research professor at the Missouri Institute of Mental Health at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

 She said the clear hot-spots of deaths in Missouri are in the St. Louis area.

A Jackson County judge on Monday declined to block a Missouri law requiring abortion physicians to meet with their patients three days before the procedure.

In rejecting a challenge to the law by Missouri’s two Planned Parenthood affiliates, Jackson County Circuit Judge S. Margene Burnett found that the requirement did not impose an “undue burden” on women seeking an abortion.

Washington University's Siteman Cancer Center offers patients with certain blood cancers a new gene-altering therapy that uses the immune system to attack cancer cells.
Provided by Washington University in St. Louis

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration last week approved a drug that genetically modifies a patient's immune cells to attack cancer cells. Washington University's Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital is among the first medical centers to offer the treatment, which is aimed at helping those with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and some types of blood cancers. 

Yescarta, manufactured by California-based Kite Pharmaceuticals, is part of a new wave of drugs that use the immune system to fight cancer, also known as immunotherapy.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 19, 2008 - Like so many others, I have been addicted to the Beijing Olympics, watching every evening for the past 10 days. NBC has been unable to resist flashing the medal count every day, of course. It would be good not to focus on the medals, but for some ignoring medals must be very hard.

I am thinking particularly of Marion Jones. She won five medals in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Seven years later, on Sept. 8, 2007, she returned them to the IOC and six months after that entered Carswell Federal Prison in Fort Worth, Texas.

The exterior of Mercy Hospital Springfield.
Provided | Mercy

Newly released documents from federal regulators detail how four patients at a southwest Missouri hospital endured abuse at the hands of caregivers or security guards, leading hospital officials to dismiss 12 employees over the summer.

In one case, staffers knocked a patient’s head against concrete. In another, nurses forced an 18-year-old patient to swallow medication, according to a 105-page report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

This radiation warning sign is one of many posted on the chain link fence surrounding part of the West Lake Landfill in Bridgeton, Mo.
File photo | Sarah Skiold-Hanlin | St. Louis Public Radio

The Environmental Protection Agency plans to conduct further testing for radioactive contamination at the West Lake Landfill Superfund site in Bridgeton. 

Albert Kelly, senior adviser to EPA administrator Scott Pruitt and the head of the agency's Superfund Task Force, made the announcement at a forum late Thursday, where members of the community voiced concerns about the landfill. Kelly said he expects the sampling to occur within the next 90 days in the western part of the site, a portion that agency officials often refer to as "Operating Unit 2."

The announcement came as good news to area residents, who have long worried that that contamination has damaged their health.

Lenita Newberg (L) and Dr. Barbara Milrod joined host Don Marsh to talk about anxiety in children.
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

Anxiety disorders affect one in eight children. That’s according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

“Anxiety is ubiquitous but an anxiety disorder is not,” said Dr. Barbara Milrod, a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist and Professor of Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City.

Milrod joined St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh on Thursday along with Lenita Newberg, director of the Advanced Psychodynamic Psychotherapy Program at the St. Louis Psychoanalytic Institute.

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