Health, Science, Environment | St. Louis Public Radio

Health, Science, Environment

Health, science, and environmental news

This interview will be on "St. Louis on the Air" at noon on Tuesday; this story will be updated after the show. You can listen live.

The month of May is designated as Older Americans Month, and on Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh will discuss a number of issues related to aging.

Joining the conversation will be Paul Weiss, president of Oasis Institute; Marylen Mann, founder of Oasis; and Rodrick Burton, pastor of New Northside Missionary Baptist Church.

Local experts in telehealth care (from left) Dr. Jennifer Wessels, Colleen Berding and Melissa Douglass addressed some of the latest developments within the growing field.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Collectively speaking, we’re living more and more of our lives virtually, and that includes the ways in which we seek out medical care.

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh discussed the ways that telehealth care is evolving and growing as an option among patients and providers.

Joining the conversation were Colleen Berding, telehealth program manager for the VA St. Louis Health Care System; Melissa Douglass, owner of Goal Driven Counseling and a recent University of Missouri-St. Louis social work alumna; and Dr. Jennifer Wessels, who is leading SSM Health’s newly launched telemedicine program with its primary care physicians.

The BacterioScan 216DX system, a test for urinary tract infections.
BacterioScan, Inc.

A St. Louis biotech startup has secured approval from the Food and Drug Administration to sell a device that helps doctors quickly diagnose urinary tract infections. 

The device, called the BacterioScan 216DX, transmits a laser through urine samples to count bacteria. If the instrument detects that bacteria are growing, that signals that a patient has an infection. The BacterioScan can reduce the time it takes to make a UTI diagnosis from two days to just three hours. 

Joining Don Marsh (at left) for a conversation about pool safety this week were (from center left) Emily Wujcik, Stephe McCormick, Birch McMullin and Lisa McMullin.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Many years have passed since one of Lisa McMullin’s children tragically drowned during a family pool party on a warm September day back in 1982. Yet her memory of what occurred is still vivid.

“Nicholas got up from his nap – all the kids but one were out of the pool – and somehow he fell in,” she recalled on Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air. “There were adults there, there were children there, but if there’s not a designated person to watch, you can have a situation like that all too easily. And it happens very fast. It happens silently, almost invisibly, and so I feel very strongly about sharing that story in order to help other parents avoid that situation.”

A forest in Gray Summit, Missouri.
Great Rivers Environmental Law Center

A group of Franklin County residents have halted plans to build a concrete plant near the Shaw Nature Reserve. 

Concerned residents appealed a 2016 Circuit Court decision that would have allowed Landvatter Ready Mix to build its plant at a proposed site in Gray Summit. The Court of Appeals for the Eastern District of Missouri ruled Tuesday that the Franklin County Planning and Zoning Commission should have given residents a chance to comment on the project.

Sarah Fentem | St. Louis Public Radio

Paramedics, firefighters and other emergency responders have long carried the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone. But Missouri health officials also want to put it in the hands of as many laypeople as possible.

Thanks to a $5 million grant from the federal government, the Missouri Department of Mental Health is giving naloxone away through a project called MO-HOPE.

With both the LimeBikes (pictured) and Ofo bike share now rolling around the region, Tuesday’s show focused on bike safety ahead of this week’s National Bike to Work Day.
Kae Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

The month of May is National Bike Month, and St. Louis just launched a bike-share initiative, with two companies – LimeBike and Ofo – now operating dockless systems in the region.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh led a conversation on the topic of bike safety in light of the recent arrival of the bright yellow and green bikes around town and the presence of more cyclists in general on local streets as temperatures climb.

Joe Watson has lived a troubled life. He had a traumatic childhood, spent years addicted to cocaine and meth and is now serving a 20 year sentence in the Jefferson City Correction Center for second degree murder.

But the 47-year-old Kansas City, Missouri, native was shaken to his core by the death of his friend and fellow inmate Stevie Jimerson from hepatitis C early last year. 

Jefferson College chemistry professor Wesley Whitfield plays the drums at a TEDx event the school organized in April 2018.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

Since Wesley Whitfield was in high school, he’s loved chemistry. It’s why he became a chemistry professor at Jefferson College in Hillsboro.

But he also has a deep passion for music. Whitfield has been playing drums as a hobby for more than 20 years. Recently, he was able to combine his passion for chemistry and drumming in an April performance at Jefferson College’s TEDx event, “The Art of Science and the Science of Art.”

He came up with the idea while he was driving and listening to Holst’s “The Planets” on his radio.

Washington University professor Daniel Giammar is leading a team of engineers and geologists to understand how quickly carbon dioxide becomes limestone rock when injected into volcanic rock deep underground.
Shahla Farzan | St. Louis Public Radio

With mounting concern over climate change, scientists around the world are looking for ways to keep carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.

A team of geologists and engineers at Washington University is testing ways to trap carbon dioxide beneath the Earth’s surface. The process, known as carbon sequestration, involves injecting carbon dioxide deep underground. Over time, the gas reacts with the surrounding rock and water and becomes rock itself.


Bill Greenblatt | UPI

The Missouri legislature has retaliated against the state health department by including what some called drastic cuts to the agency in next year’s budget.

Lawmakers approved the cuts, totaling in eight eliminated positions, after the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services refused to reveal the number of people in Missouri who had tested positive for antibodies for a mysterious virus. The virus reportedly killed a Meramec State Park worker in 2017.

Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Lazare House, a permanent housing program in St. Louis, aims at giving older, homeless young adults with mental health needs a chance at stability.

The 15-unit apartment building in south St. Louis is operated through Depaul USA, and provides housing for young adult ages 18 to 24.

Suzanne Kenyon, the director of Depaul USA in St. Louis, said although there are permanent housing resources in the city for adults and temporary housing resources for young people, the need for permanent supportive housing for young people is widely unmet.

Understanding how bacteria detoxify and eat antibiotics might help us develop ways to address antibiotic contamination in the environment.
Michael Worful

Ten years ago, Gautam Dantas stumbled across a strange phenomenon in the lab: bacteria that were able to feed on antibiotics.

“The story really starts very serendipitously,” said Dantas, who is now a professor of pathology and immunology at Washington University. “Like whoa, there are bugs in the soil that are munching on antibiotics.”

DeAnna Quietwater Noriega and Gretchen Maune, who’s a friend of mine, both live in Columbia and are blind.

They spoke about some of the additional complications and costs that can come along with their adaptive technologies – i.e. their service dogs. For DeAnna, that’s Enzo, a German Shepard, and for Gretchen, Keeper, a Golden Retriever. 

Missouri Health Talks gathers Missourians’ stories of access to healthcare in their own words. You can view more conversations at missourihealthtalks.org

Michael Dawson of the St. Louis Zoo shows an American toad to a group of fourth-graders from Community School on May 4, 2018.
Shahla Farzan | St. Louis Public Radio

Armed with clipboards and binoculars, students from the St. Louis area got a chance to explore nearby forests, fields and ponds, all while cataloging local wildlife.

Local naturalists and wildlife experts helped guide small groups of students as part of the first BioBlitz at Principia School in Town and Country on Friday. The BioBlitz, which happens each year in communities across the U.S., is an effort to record plants and animals, while also helping “citizen scientists” feel more connected to nature.


Pixabay

A constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana could be on the November ballot in Missouri.

On Friday, the group A New Approach submitted the signatures needed to place a measure legalizing medical marijuana before voters. The 370,000 signatures are more than twice the number required for a constitutional amendment.

The lone star tick is an important vector of a number of diseases, including the heartland virus and ehrlichiosis.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Most people hope to avoid ticks when they take a walk in the woods.

For biologists at Washington University’s Tyson Research Center, however, attracting ticks is the goal.

In a recent study, Tyson researchers collected thousands of lone star ticks in the Missouri Ozarks. The results point to an interesting pattern: the number of ticks found in an area is closely related to the topography, or physical features, of the landscape.

Great Rivers Greenway

Boston-based design firm Stoss Landscape Urbanism will lead the design of the proposed Chouteau Greenway, a network of trails and green spaces that would connect Forest Park to the Gateway Arch. The firm beat three other finalists in an eight-month-long competition.

A capsule of pills.
FDA | file photo

Last year, frustrated with a lack of commitment from state legislators, St. Louis County created its own prescription-drug monitoring program with the specific expectation other areas of the state could join in – and they have.

Albert Kelly, former head of the EPA's Superfund Task Force, and EPA Region 7 administrator Cathy Stepp attend a town hall in Bridgeton about the West Lake Landfill Superfund site in October 2017
File photo | St. Louis Public Radio

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund Task Force resigned Tuesday after one year in the role, leaving residents in northwest St. Louis County unsure about the fate of a proposal to clean up West Lake Landfill.

Albert Kelly, former EPA senior advisor, did not immediately return a call for comment. Media reports say the ex-banking executive resigned after relentless bad press about his financial dealings. Before he joined the EPA, Kelly helped administrator Scott Pruitt get financing to pay for a mortgage and to buy a minor league baseball team. Later, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. banned Kelly from the industry because of a previous banking violation.

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