Health, Science, Environment | St. Louis Public Radio

Health, Science, Environment

Health, science, and environmental news

Rachel Greathouse (at left) and Jenny Wendt are helping to spearhead the Recycle Responsibly campaign for OneSTL, a collaborative organization focused on regional sustainability.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

The world of recycling is a global one, with lots of moving parts. But in places like St. Louis, it all still starts with local residents and what they put in their neighborhood recycling bins. At least that’s where one regional organization is putting renewed focus as they try to spread a consistent message.

“Don’t be a wishful recycler,” Rachel Greathouse, a member of the OneSTL recycling work group, said Friday on St. Louis on the Air. “That’s something that we like to say in our field often … if it’s not on the list, it’s not in the bin. So that’s really important.”

Forecasters say the El Nino weather pattern in the Pacific Ocean should lead to slightly warmer and wetter conditions across the Midwest this winter. That’s good news for some farmers who struggled with drought over the summer.

Long before Eric Kirkwood of Kansas City, Kansas, had his first sickle cell crisis at age 17, he knew about the pain caused by the disease. His uncle and sister had the genetic disorder, which causes blood cells to clump together and cut off circulation, leaving many patients with pain they describe like being squeezed in a vise.

“I’ve been in so much pain that I’m like ‘Why am I not dying?’” Kirkwood said. “It’s really like torture.”

Cattle farmers across Missouri are facing conditions that could allow for heightened fescue foot in cow herds.

Fescue foot is a condition caused by ingesting Kentucky 31 fescue grass that has been poisoned during growth after a drought. Fescue foot can immobilize cows and cause hoof loss.

“We expect it to be worse than in previous years,” MU Extension specialist Craig Roberts said.

When a herd faces fescue foot, it affects more than just a few cows.

 Mercy Hospital in St. Louis.
File photo | Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

A handful of St. Louis area hospitals received a high rating for patient safety in a report from the medical watchdog nonprofit, the Leapfrog Group.

Most of the 27 acute-care hospitals in the  region had documented problems with hospital-acquired infections, physician and nurse training and surgical complications, according to the group, which ranks 2,600 U.S. hospitals twice a year.

The St. Louis-area hospitals that received “A” ratings include Mercy hospitals in Festus and St. Louis, St. Anthony’s in Alton, St. Joseph’s in Breese and St. Elizabeth’s in O’Fallon, Illinois.

A microscopic view of oral cancer.
Wikimedia Commons

Studies show cancer survivors are twice as likely to die by suicide than the general population. But some cancer survivors are at a greater risk than others, according to research from a St. Louis University doctor.

A study appearing in this month’s journal Cancer has found patients in recovery from pancreatic, head and neck cancers die by suicide at a higher rate than other common cancers. In the case of head and neck cancer, the suicide rate is 63 for every 100,000 people — close to four times that of the general population and two times that of other cancer survivors combined.

The findings emphasize a little-talked about subject: the mental health needs of patients after they finish treatment, said Nosayaba Osazuwa-Peters, an assistant professor of otolaryngology at SLU and lead author of the study.

This is one of the solar powered homes in the study of new lead acid batteries on November 9. 2018
Jonathan Ahl | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri University of Science and Technology and two companies that manufacture batteries in Missouri are teaming up on a research project that could make it easier for homes to run exclusively on renewable energy.

The university and representatives from the businessesannounced the three-year project Friday on the Rolla campus.

Allegra Fuller Snyder, 91, is the only living child of the late architect and futurist R. Buckminster Fuller. She's also a professor emeritus of dance and dance ethnography at UCLA.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

For decades, R. Buckminster Fuller was known around the globe for his scholarship and his vision of a future that could work for everyone aboard what he described as “spaceship earth.” By the middle of the 20th century, he saw two possible destinations on humanity’s horizon – utopia or oblivion – and his lectures and writings still resonate today.

“He was always a step ahead of where the rest of us were, but very excited and eager to bring us all with him,” his 91-year-old daughter, Allegra Fuller Snyder, said Friday on St. Louis on the Air.

In town for what’s been billed as a “Bucky Weekend” celebrating the late architect’s legacy in the St. Louis region, she joined host Don Marsh for the conversation alongside Benjamin Lowder, creative director of the Fuller Dome at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

As life expectancy increases, farmers are staying in the business, but there’s still a need to plan for what happens when they die. At the same time, young farmers who come from non-farming backgrounds are looking for the space to grow their own careers.

A land transfer may seem simple, but challenges abound: How do retiring farmers connect with beginning farmers? When does a farmer confront death? How can smaller farm organizations fit into the ever-growing 1,000-acre farm scene?

Julie Brookhart detailed a new law that changed Medicare cards to prevent identity theft.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh discussed a recent law regarding Medicare – new cards are being issued that exclude Social Security Numbers to address the current risk of medical identity theft. The new cards include a unique number for each beneficiary – 1.2 million people in Missouri. 

Joining the discussion was Julie Brookhart, public affairs specialist for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. She described the recent changes as “a long time coming.”

When American doctors enter the field of medicine, most take an oath to put the patient’s health as a top priority.

Workers for the Metropolitan Sewer District begin to demolish a house on Greer Avenue as a part of program to turn vacant properties into green spaces in March 2017.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

The city of St. Louis and the U.S. Geological Survey this month are starting a study to determine if filling demolition sites with clean soil instead of building materials can help address one of St. Louis’ biggest environmental problems: sewage overflows.

Typically, contractors working for the city fill the basement with concrete and other materials from the demolished building. In north St. Louis, they recently began filling some basements with soil that’s been tested for environmental toxins. City and federal officials want to compare how well the two methods can absorb stormwater runoff.

The mobile clinic will start in Washington and Franklin counties in December 2018.
St. Louis Archdiocese

The Archdiocese of St. Louis is partnering with Rural Parish Workers and Catholic Charities of St. Louis to open a mobile clinic so people who are uninsured can have access to free primary care services.

After two years of planning, the three organizations hope to have the clinic running in December.

Working with a team of volunteers, Sister Marie Paul Lockerd, is a primary care physican  who  Archbishop Robert Carlson asked to establish the clinic. And she will  will serve as the primary physician for the clinic. There will be one other primary care doctor and nine nurses.

Gustavo Valdez, an insurance navigator with the Community Action Agency of St. Louis County helps Charles Niemeyer enroll in health insurance through the website.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Nov. 1 marked the start of the six-week open enrollment period during which Missourians can buy health insurance on the federal exchange.

While enrollment in Missouri has been relatively stable in the federal marketplace’s five-year history, new federal rules could mean fewer people sign up for 2019 coverage.

From left, Vijay Chauhan, Natalie DiNicola and Dena Ladd discussed gene-editing technology on this Tuesday's St. Louis on the Air.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Gene editing – a novel technique consisting of editing, replacing or deleting gene sequences – is a growing practice in the St. Louis area.

This new ability to redefine and reconstruct organisms at the genetic level is quickly influencing research in a variety of fields, including medicine, agriculture and industry.

Dr. Anton Hart explained how psychoanalysis helps patients cope with trauma as a result of discrimination.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

Post-traumatic stress disorder is often correlated with life-threatening or explicitly traumatic events – like being in a war or seeing someone get killed. But the nuances of PTSD are visible with exposure to everyday microaggressions, discrimination and racism. Small things can add up, resulting in toxic levels of stress in an individual.

Dr. Anton Hart, clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst, explained on Monday’s St. Louis on the Air with host Don Marsh that even in cases of “everyday suffering” as opposed to instant traumatic events “it’s not such a far stretch to identify PTSD.”

Sikeston farmer Trey Wilson said he saw substantial damage to his soybean crops this year. On the left is what a healthy soybean plant looks like; on the right is a soybean plant showing signs of dicamba damage.
Trey Wilson

Scientists are concerned that the Environmental Protection Agency’s recently announced limits on dicamba herbicide use will not be effective in preventing widespread crop damage.

The federal agency last week approved the use of dicamba-based herbicides, such as Bayer’s XtendiMax, until 2020. However, it noted several restrictions in attempts to curb the herbicide’s off-target movement that has ruined more than 1.1 million acres of soybeans in the United States this year

Missouri Department of Conservation

No one knows exactly how many feral hogs are in Missouri.

But the Missouri Department of Conservation has eliminated 7,300 so far this year.

The pigs aren’t a native Missouri wildlife species. They’re descendants of domesticated pigs that either escaped or were set free to be hunted.

“For over 20 years, unregulated hunting of feral hogs was allowed in Missouri, during which time our feral-hog population expanded from a few counties to over 30 counties,” said Mark McLain, who leads the department’s feral-hog strike team tasked with trapping and killing the animals.

Flares at the Bridgeton Landfill are used to burn off smelly underground gases.
File Photo | Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

Firefighters in north St. Louis County extinguished a surface fire that occurred at the Bridgeton Landfill on Friday evening.

It took two and a half hours for crews from the Pattonville and Robertson fire districts to put out the fire, which began approximately at 5 p.m. Because gas from Bridgeton Landfill’s infrastructure kept refueling the fire, firefighters had to switch to a tactic that required increasing the water supply, said Matt LaVanchy, assistant chief for the Pattonville Fire Protection District.

Riverview Gardens senior Shakira Bent speaks with medical assistant Ebonie Hearn-Tolliver at the makeshift student health clinic at Riverview Gardens High School. The school is renovating a campus building to serve as a full-scale clinic in the future.
Sarah Fentem | St. Louis Public Radio

Two school districts in north St. Louis County are moving beyond the traditional nurse’s office and putting full-service health clinics in schools.

This week, Hazelwood East High School and Riverview Gardens High School unveiled clinics that will offer primary care as well as dental and behavioral health services for students. Officials at the two schools say bringing doctors to the students – instead of the other way around – is an important step to increasing access on those who need it most