Health, Science, Environment | St. Louis Public Radio

Health, Science, Environment

Health, science, and environmental news

Black River near Annapolis, Mo.
National Weather Service Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service

The Missouri Coalition for the Environment has accused the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers of withholding information on mining and other development projects that could damage wetlands. 

The environmental group filed suit against the Corps of Engineers in late March, alleging that the agency denied it access to permits and documents that relate to mining and other types of projects. The suit claims that the Corps of Engineers' St. Louis and Little Rock districts have repeatedly refused to release documents, such as permit applications, using an exemption of the Freedom of Information Act.

Catherine Werner is the director of sustainability in the mayor’s office.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Within a global context of climate change, individual attention to butterfly gardens, light bulbs, recycling and other efforts can sometimes seem rather futile. Catherine Werner is familiar with that notion – and with persuading people that such relatively small things do in fact matter.

“You think, ‘Oh, well, what can I do, and what’s one little light bulb going to do to make a difference?’” Werner said during Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air. “But if you do your whole apartment or your whole home, and then you tell it to your neighbor and they do it next door, it really does add up and can make quite a difference.”

The Missouri Department of Conservation says honeysuckle can affect lake and stream banks, marsh, fens, sedge meadow, wet and dry prairies, savannas, floodplain and upland forests and woodlands.
Missouri Department of Conservation

This week, in the hallowed halls of the historic Old Courthouse in St. Louis, a local woodworker sued a shrub.

In an educational mock trial held Wednesday, a jury heard the case against invasive bush honeysuckle. The plant was first introduced to the U.S. from eastern Asia in the 1700s and has since spread to at least 31 states, including Missouri.

Lead blocks produced by the Doe Run Company.
The Doe Run Company

In a settlement announced Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Justice, Environmental Protection Agency and the state of Missouri ordered metal and mining company Doe Run Resources Corporation to clean up lead contamination in more than 4,000 residential properties in St. Francois County.

The work is estimated to cost a total of $111 million. Of that, the Environmental Protection Agency will contribute about $31 million. The company will remove lead contamination in the Big River Mine Tailings Superfund Site, an area added to the EPA's National Priorities List in 1992. It's part of Missouri's "Old Lead Belt," one of the largest lead mining districts in the world.

The Sny Island Levee System in Illinois is one of 10 levee systems that have exceeded their authorized heights, according to a survey conducted by the Army Corps of Engineers' Rock Island District this year.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

Data from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are supporting northeast Missouri residents' suspicions that overbuilt levees along the Upper Mississippi River have led to increased flooding for vulnerable communities. 

The Corps of Engineers last spring surveyed levee heights in the Rock Island District, which runs from Keokuk, Iowa, to Thebes, Illinois, and discovered that 40 percent of the levees exceeded regulation. The federal agency released a model at the end of January that measured the impact the overbuilt levees have on river flooding. The model, however, requires an experienced engineer to operate, so environmental advocacy group American Rivers hired a consultant to do so this month.

An aerial shot of wildlife officials from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Missouri Department of Conservation removing Asian carp from Creve Coeur Lake in winter 2018.
Missouri Department of Conservation

Federal and Missouri state wildlife officials have successfully used a new technique to remove the majority of Asian carp from Creve Coeur Lake in St. Louis County. 

Earlier this year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Missouri Department of Conservation and St. Louis County Parks and Recreation deployed a method to extract the invasive species from the lake.

Asian carp has invaded many Midwestern lakes and rivers, outcompeting native fish populations and tainting water quality. Traditional netting methods have not been effective, since the fish jump over the nets. Under the "unified method" developed in China, nets and electric barriers create a grid-like system where fish are herded and then removed.

Waters continue to rise around I-55 near Butler Hill on Wednesday morning. May 2017
File Photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Due to heavy rain in the St. Louis region, multiple streams throughout eastern and central Missouri are being monitored by the National Weather Service. The agency has issued several flood warnings for this evening. 

Flood warnings are indicative of when rivers are expected to exceed the flood stage, where human impact begins.

For Staying Power, CSAs Could Use A Niche Product

Mar 26, 2018

U.S. consumers’ hunger for fresh, local and organic foods has fed a marketplace that’s so big, little guys are — once again — having to evolve and specialize.

It’s especially true with community-supported agriculture programs (CSAs), which had been growing for years, but are starting to wane in the face of the rise of meal-kit companies and an oversaturated market.

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

Mercy Health has plans to open 10 primary care offices in the south St. Louis metro area over the next two years. 

That's in addition to the nearly 20 urgent care centers the system plans to open during the same period throughout the St. Louis region in partnership with GoHealth Urgent Care. The locations of the primary care offices have not been determined yet, but they will open in south St. Louis County, northern Jefferson County and in the Columbia and Waterloo areas of Illinois.

St. Louis Community College

St. Louis Community College is adding its first new building on the Forest Park campus in 20 years.

The new Center for Nursing and Health Sciences will include up-to-date science labs, classrooms, a dental clinic and innovative teaching spaces.

Jeff Pittman, the chancellor of the college, said the goal of the new facility is not only to create more space for students — some of whom are on a waiting list for certain programs within the department — but also to address the overall health care shortage in the region.

College students in the Living Lands & Waters Alternative Spring Break program hauled roughly 35,000 pounds of garbage from the Mississippi River this year near Grafton, IL.
Shahla Farzan | St. Louis Public Radio

 

A rowdy group of college students slathers on sunscreen, getting ready for a day on the river.

Instead of bathing suits, these spring breakers are decked out in knee-high rubber boots and faded life jackets. They’re part of the Living Lands & Waters river cleanup crew and for a week, they’ll spend their days pulling trash from the Mississippi River near Grafton, Illinois.

 


Wash U medical resident Pawina Jiramongkolchai presents Joe Weissmann with a smell test.
Shahla Farzan | St. Louis Public Radio

Two years ago, Joe Weissmann lost something many take for granted: his sense of smell.

“I still eat, but I don’t enjoy it near as much, because I can’t taste any food or have any sensation of smell,” said Weissmann, a lifelong St. Louis resident and retired sheet metal worker.

Still, Weissmann hasn’t lost hope. He is now a participant in a Washington University research study designed to understand how the brain changes after a person loses their sense of smell. The goal is to eventually develop a treatment for long-term smell loss.

 


Artist Shea Brown and Sunni Hutton from the Dutchtown South Community Corporation hold up a meditation pouf made out of plastic bags. March 2018
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis artists plan to unveil two public art installations in the next couple weeks to draw attention to rampant illegal dumping in the Dutchtown neighborhood. 

Artist Shea Brown is building a "meditation and serenity station" made out of plastic bags that will be located at the corner of Virginia Avenue and Liberty Street. Another artist, Ann Johnson, is building a garden-inspired archway out of plastic barbecue-sauce jugs that will be illuminated by LED lights.

The Dutchtown South Community Corporation commissioned the two projects as a part of its public outreach campaign called "So Fresh, So Clean, So Creative Southside St. Louis" to reduce waste in the neighborhood.

Visiting Nurse Association of Greater St. Louis’ Carol Emmerich (left) and Mike Roberts (right) talked about how people can deal with feelings of grief.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

When a person nears the end of their life, feelings of grief can increase and unaddressed matters often add to the complications.

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked about how people can deal with those issues. Visiting Nurse Association of Greater St. Louis’ Mike Roberts, public relations and communications manager, and Carol Emmerich, director of hospice care, joined him for the conversation.

This story was updated at 1:47 p.m. to include the response of a spokesman for the VA region in question.  

Almost 1,000 veterans in Missouri, Kansas and Illinois were denied care at non-VA facilities because their wait times were incorrectly reported, an audit released last week concludes. 

An ancient Egyptian mummy named Pet Menekh is placed in a CT scanner at the Washington University School of Medicine.
Washington University School of Medicine

In a dark room on the third floor of the Saint Louis Art Museum, nearly a dozen grade school boys encircled a tour guide, who was dispensing facts about Egyptian mummies. But instead of crowding around three mummies lying nearby in glass cases, they stood in front of a recently added feature to the exhibit: a touchscreen that displays images of what the mummies look like inside.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 30, 2012 - Some doctors are beginning to discover a downside to electronic health records. Call it EHR overload. It refers to instances when physicians have so much medical data at their finger tips that they are overwhelmed and have trouble finding what they need to make quick decisions about treating patients.

A cornfield
File Photo | Adam Allington | St. Louis Public Radio

A bill in the Missouri House would bring back a ban on foreign ownership of Missouri farmland.

The ban was lifted by the Missouri General Assembly in 2013, allowing foreign ownership of up to one percent of farmland in the state. But Stephen Webber, the chair of the Missouri Democratic Party, said lifting the ban has given foreign corporations too much control in Missouri’s agriculture industry.

“They’ve got the ability to bully small family farmers [and] to manipulate prices and policies,” Webber said.

Roger Ideker's farm in St. Joseph, Mo. during the 2011 Missouri River flood. Ideker is the lead plaintiff in the suit against the corps.
Ideker Farms

The U.S. Court of Federal Claims has found the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers responsible for extensive property damage caused as a result of recurring floods along the Missouri River. 

A group of 372 farmers, landowners and business owners in several Midwestern states filed suit against the Corps of Engineers in March 2014, alleging that the federal agency's actions contributed to five floods along the Missouri River since 2007. Senior Judge Nancy Firestone ruled on Tuesday that the Corps of Engineers was liable for damages caused by recurring floods.

Tree plantings on a former lead mining site in Fredericktown, Missouri, located about 90 miles south of St. Louis.
Amy Poos | Missouri Department of Natural Resources

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources are restoring a portion of Missouri's Old Lead Belt back into a forest. 

It's the first effort that federal and state officials have made to restore a part of the Madison County Mines Superfund Site, part of the Southeast Missouri Lead District. In the 19th century, lead mining heavily contaminated the area, which was listed on the Environmental Protection Agency's National Priorities List in 2003.

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