Health, Science, Environment

New Madrid Fault
9:54 pm
Sun August 31, 2014

After Napa, Missourians Weigh Costs of Earthquake Insurance

National Seismic Hazard map of the continental United States, released in July of 2014. This view measures peak ground acceleration.
Credit United States Geological Survey

Last week, a 6.1 magnitude earthquake in Napa, Calif. ripped through a region where less than 6 percent of homeowners and renters have earthquake insurance.

Could the same thing happen along the New Madrid Fault in southeastern Missouri?

Statewide, about one-third of Missourians are insured against earthquakes. But those who live in the most earthquake-prone areas are much less likely to have coverage.

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Urban Wildlife
3:23 pm
Thu August 28, 2014

Night Of The Cemetery Bats

Big brown bats like this one are relatively common in urban areas, sometimes roosting in buildings. Contrary to popular belief, bats rarely carry rabies and are not rodents. They belong to the order Chiroptera, which means "hand-wing."
Courtesy of Robert Marquis

Originally published on Thu August 28, 2014 6:28 pm

I've visited St. Louis' Bellefontaine cemetery before, but never at night.

It's really dark. The looming trees are black against the sky, where a half-moon is just barely visible behind some clouds.

I can see eerie lights and strange, shadowy figures moving among the gravestones.

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Aging water systems
3:33 pm
Tue August 26, 2014

Water Utilities Push For New Infrastructure, Rates Could Rise

An infrared photograph shows a water main leak in Webster Groves. Water utility companies photograph roads at night to determine which pipes may be in need of repair.
Credit courtesy of Missouri American

Water pipes in the St. Louis area are old … and getting older.

A report published Tuesday by a consortium of five St. Louis-area water utilities shows much of the area’s water system has outlived its expected lifetime:

  • Life expectancy for reservoirs and da

    ms ranges from 50 to 80 years. The average age of a St. Louis-area reservoir or dam is 80 years.

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West Lake Landfill
4:02 pm
Mon August 25, 2014

Suit Dismissed That Alleged West Lake Landfill's Radiation Had Spread

Map of the West Lake Landfill
Credit EPA | 2013 report

At the behest of the man who had filed the suit, a U.S. District Court has dismissed a suit that had alleged the radiation from the West Lake Landfill had spread into surrounding neighborhoods.

The dismissal had been requested by the lawyer for John James, who lived in a subdivision near the landfill, which is near Bridgeton. The lawyer has said that test results failed to show enough radiation to meet the federal standard for damages.

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Mental Health
11:36 pm
Thu August 21, 2014

What’s Helpful To Know About Trauma After Upheaval In Ferguson

Regina Greer of the United Way Coaches volunteers at the new community resource drop-in center at the Dellwood Community Center on August 21.
Credit Durrie Bouscaren / St. Louis Public Radio

In the past two weeks, residents in Ferguson have seen familiar businesses broken into and looted, heard gunshots at night and had to drive through police checkpoints to enter their neighborhoods. Some say their trust of law enforcement has been deeply shaken since the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown at the hands of a Ferguson police officer, Darren Wilson.

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African-American Health
7:01 pm
Wed August 20, 2014

Monthly Blood Transfusions Can Prevent “Silent” Strokes In Children With Sickle Cell Anemia

In children with sickle cell anemia, some red blood cells are malformed, shaped like a crescent instead of a disc. This makes them more likely to clump together, causing organ damage, strokes, and pain.
Credit National Institutes of Health

An international study initiated by Washington University has found that giving monthly blood transfusions to children with sickle cell anemia can significantly reduce their risk of what are known as “silent” strokes.

Unlike regular strokes, which have sudden, overt symptoms like difficulty speaking or numbness in an arm or leg, silent strokes can only be detected with an MRI scan, so they generally go unnoticed by parents and physicians.

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St. Louis on the Air
4:17 pm
Wed August 13, 2014

Parents Must Hold Boys Accountable, Psychologist Says

Wes Crenshaw
Credit courtesy photo

If there’s a gender war, the girls are winning, says psychologist Wes Crenshaw.

“Right now, to be a young white female is to be in a cohort of highly competitive applicants to just about any advanced program that there is,” Crenshaw said.

Women outnumber and outperform men in college. In middle and high school, girls also get better grades than boys. Crenshaw says these performance differences can be traced back to how children are raised, and the distractions they face.

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Newborn Health
2:01 pm
Mon August 11, 2014

Study: Preterm Babies Have Different Gut Microbes ― Which Could Affect Their Health

Dr. Barbara Warner (left) and nurse Laura Linneman check on infant Skylar Angel in the neonatal intensive care unit at St. Louis Children's Hospital. Skylar and her twin, Bayley, were born prematurely.
Credit Elizabethe Holland Durando, Washington University School of Medicine

A team of researchers at Washington University has found that babies born prematurely have very different gut microbes than those of babies carried to term.

All children are born with almost no microbes in their intestines. Their gut microbial communities develop quickly in the weeks after birth ― although the communities don't reach full maturity until children are 2 or 3 years old.

But little is known about how this microbial development occurs.

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Affordable Care Act
8:45 pm
Thu August 7, 2014

New Report: St. Louis Area Hospitals Improved With Financial Incentives

Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis
Credit courtesy of Barnes Jewish Hospital

A health industry report published Thursday suggests federal programs that tie hospital quality scores to Medicare reimbursements are giving St. Louis hospitals a reason to improve.

Seventeen St. Louis area hospitals received bonus payments this year from Medicare thanks to programs in the Affordable Care Act that reward hospitals for providing a high quality of care. At the same  time, 25 were penalized for low scores, high readmission rates or failing to improve between 2011 and 2012.

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St. Louis on the Air
5:03 pm
Thu August 7, 2014

How Can St. Louis Improve Biking, Walking Access?

Credit Flickr/Jeremy Noble

With the clear, warm weather of summer, more St. Louisans of all ages are taking to the streets and the sidewalks on foot and by bike. The city has plans in the works to make walking, biking and running easier, from Complete Streets to separated bike lanes.

“I think overall we have great facilities in St. Louis and there has been a lot of improvement in the five years that I’ve lived here,” said Aaron Hipp, assistant professor of social work at Washington University in St. Louis. His research evaluates how built communities affect the activity and health of those who use them.

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