Health, Science, Environment

Health, science, and environmental news

http://kathrineswitzer.com/press-room/photos/
AP Images, Kathrine Switzer

The first woman to officially enter and run the Boston Marathon, in 1967, did so under the gender-neutral entry “K.V. Switzer.” When race officials found out she was a woman, one race director physically attacked her for wearing an official bib number in the race. That moment was caught on camera and made headlines around the world, later becoming one of Time-Life’s “100 Photos that Changed the World.” Her full name is Kathrine Switzer.

A water stain on a basement wall.
provided by EPA

Indoor mold can pose a health hazard for people with allergies, asthma or lung illnesses. But there are few regulations for what St. Louis area landlords are required to do about it.

Lee Camp, an attorney for Legal Services of Eastern Missouri, estimates that a quarter of his housing cases involve disputes with a tenant and their landlord over mold.   

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

A federal report shows no off-site human health risk from radioactive waste at the West Lake Landfill.

At the request of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, or ATSDR, reviewed existing data on groundwater, air, and soil contamination at and around the landfill in Bridgeton.

Overall, the assessment found no radiation risk to surrounding communities, but did caution that workers at the landfill need to be protected from inhaling radioactive dust and radon gas.

This photo taken in February of the Bridgeton Landfill's south quarry shows the plastic cap and several gas extraction wells.
Katelyn Mae Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

Bridgeton and West Lake Landfill owner Republic Services is calling into question the validity of one of the reports released last month by Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster.

A deposition given this Wednesday and Thursday by the report's lead author seems to raise doubts about whether or not the underground fire at the Bridgeton Landfill is really moving toward nearby radioactive waste.

UMSL planetarium in action
Timothy Wombles

The University of Missouri-St. Louis is opening a newly renovated planetarium for students and the public. Astronomy professor Erika Gibb says the renovated facility is even a little more cutting edge than the Saint Louis Science Center’s planetarium, at least for now.

(Adam Allington/St. Louis Public Radio)

Drought conditions across portions of Missouri are having both a positive and negative effect on crops grown in the Show-Me State.

The lack of rain over much of Missouri has not harmed the state's corn crop and is enabling farmers to get heavy equipment into the fields for harvest.

Community activist Dawn Chapman speaks to an overflow crowd at the John Calvin Presbyterian Church about problems at the West Lake and Bridgeton landfills.
Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 1:00 a.m. after the landfill meeting - Hundreds of area residents jammed into the John Calvin Presbyterian Church in Bridgeton Thursday night for a meeting about two St. Louis County landfills.

Many people at the meeting had never heard of the Bridgeton and West Lake landfills until last week, when St. Louis County made public an emergency response plan describing how it would respond if an underground fire at Bridgeton reaches radioactive waste at West Lake.

Ferguson Farmers Market

The oldest, still-operating farmers market in St. Louis, Soulard Farmers Market, has a history that stretches back over 200 years. But it is only in the past 15 that the local food scene has exploded across other municipalities in the region, bringing with it smaller markets and more opportunities for local growers to sell their produce and products.

Advocate and author Christine McDonald, right, listens to Missouri Congresswoman Ann Wagner's testimony during a public hearing in St. Louis about human trafficking.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

About three dozen minors in the St. Louis region have been rescued from sex trafficking so far this year, and a nationwide sting last week recovered 149 children, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. But during a public hearing in St. Louis, local agencies who help victims said they’re strapped for resources.

Dr. Michael Bavlsik works as medical director at Barnes Jewish Extended Care in Clayton. He received a nerve-transfer surgery after a spinal cord injury, and has since been able to improve function in his arms, wrists and hands.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Dr. Michael Bavlsik uses a motorized wheelchair to visit his patients at an extended care facility in Clayton. It’s been more than three years since his spine was crushed in a severe highway collision, when he was driving a van of Boy Scouts home from a camp in Minnesota.   

“The 11 boys who were in the van got out and were all unharmed, but the roof of the van was deformed and crushed me,” Bavlsik said.

e-MagineArt.com | Flickr

Missouri hospitals have seen a drastic increase in prescription painkiller abuse over the past decade. According to a study from the Missouri Hospital Association, the rate of hospitalization due to the abuse of prescription opioids has increased by 137 percent since 2005.

The numbers localize a problem usually shown through national statistics. For instance, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 44 people die every day in the United States from prescription painkiller overdoses.

Davion Thompson, 14, clocks the speed of cars passing the intersection of Gasconade Street and Compton Avenue Saturday, Oct 10, 2015 during Trailnet's traffic calming demo.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Brightly-colored tires simulating flower beds popped-up along a two-block stretch of Gasconade Street Saturday in the Dutchtown neighborhood of south St. Louis.

Bicycle and pedestrian advocacy group Trailnet set the tires up to block the corners of intersections leading up to Marquette Park, shortening the distance people crossing the road were exposed to traffic. Other tires formed a zig-zag route for drivers to navigate.

Kenyan immigrant Geoffrey Soyiantet on Oct. 6
Kameel Stanley | St. Louis Public Radio

Many organizations in St. Louis have made a concerted effort recently to be more welcoming to refugees and immigrants.

But that doesn’t mean that when people get here they have an easy adjustment.

That process should be made easier, some say, with a new effort called the Immigrant Service Providers Network.

The Sisters of Mercy Health System debuted their newly-constructed, $54 million Virtual Care Center in Chesterfield on Tuesday. The building will house 330 employees to assist doctors and patients across four states, according to the network.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

A doorbell rings in a patient's room. A monitor swivels around, showing a real-time video of a nurse making her rounds for the day. 

"Good morning, Mr. Rhodes. How are you doing this morning?" the nurse asks, her eyes scanning a number of screens that show her patient's vital signs and notes from his electronic health record. 

(via Flickr/ellie)

Open enrollment for Medicare starts this month, on Oct. 15, and closes Dec. 7.  It is the only time of the year that plan beneficiaries have the ability to change their Medicare health and drug plans.

Plan costs and coverage benefits seem to change almost as soon as they are enacted. Around 1700 people in the St. Louis area alone will be impacted by their Medicare Advantage plan not renewing their contract with Medicare, making open enrollment an important part of the year to pay attention to.

Dr. John Morley is a SLUCare geriatrician and director of geriatrics at the SLU School of Medicine
Aine O'Connor | St. Louis Public Radio

  On Tuesday, Dr. John Morley, SLUCare physician and director of geriatrics at Saint Louis University’s School of Medicine, joined “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh to discuss remaining vital and vibrant through the years as well as a recent $2.5 million federal grant to the university to teach primary care doctors to care for older adults.

Video screen shot

The kingdom needs the contributions of all its people to thrive. 

That's the premise of "Gateway Gauntlet," an animated video directed by Benjamin Kaplan as part of an 18-month community engagement effort conducted by St. Louis Public Radio. The video premiered Oct. 1 in the Public Media Commons in Grand Center.

This colorized scanning electron micrograph image shows filamentous Ebola virus particles (shown in blue) infecting a cell (shown in yellow-green).
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH

Scientists at Washington University have developed a genetic test that can be used to detect practically any virus known to infect humans.

It could be especially useful for quickly identifying the cause of deadly disease outbreaks or helping a patient whose disease has eluded diagnosis.

Parents cheer during a football game against Christian Brothers College High School at St. Louis University High on Friday. At left, Verlion Evans cheers for her nephew, Andrew Clair.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

When she was a student at Maplewood Richmond Heights High School back in the 70s, Betty Pearson would ring a cowbell every time the Blue Devils made a touchdown. Her high school sweetheart — now her husband — played football, and their oldest son later followed in his footsteps. So when the school board announced they were ending the district's high school football program due to a lack of interest, Pearson was pretty shocked.

“I was first sad! I was like, 'Oh wow.' You know?” Pearson said.

Panelist Dr. Karen Edison, who helps create health policy surveys at the University of Missouri, said she was once threatened with a loss of funding for including survey questions about sexual orientation. AJ Bockleman of PROMO sits to her right.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Sometimes, state and federal law are in conflict.

Rules for the protection of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people is one example. Even though the federal government prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity on many counts, Missouri state law does not include those protections. 

Resolving those conflicts was the focus of a summit Wednesday between members of the LGBT community, their advocates and representatives from five federal agencies. 

Starkloff Disability Institute

It has been 25 years since the historic Americans with Disabilities Act was enacted by the U.S. Congress and St. Louis will join cities across the country in commemorating its passage. 

Mike Morrison talks with two staff members at Bridgeway's detox center in St. Louis.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

(Part 3 of 3)

In November 2013 Kari Karidis was in her office at Collinsville High School when a local hospital called to tell her that her son Chaz was in cardiac arrest. When she arrived at the emergency room she was told her son had died. All she could do was go into his room and say goodbye.

“He still had the tube — the breathing tube in,” Karidis recalled, sitting in that same office earlier this year. “I just sat there. I don’t know how long. I just remember thinking I can’t look at this but I can’t leave.”

Nate Birt | Provided

St. Louis County officials will soon decide whether to turn medical services at two county jails over to a private contractor. The decision is pending even as members of the medical community — including current justice center employees — have raised concerns over the dangers of privatizing healthcare in jail.

A dose of naloxone, the opiate overdose antidote.
Openfile Vancouver | Flickr

(Part 2 of 3)

Earlier this month, a new anti-heroin law went into effect in Illinois. The measure requires first responders to carry the opiate overdose antidote naloxone and expands the amount of addiction treatment paid for by Medicaid. But how the drugs and treatment will be paid for is unclear. State funding for addiction treatment is also in limbo as Illinois enters its 13th week without a budget.

Meanwhile, there have been a number of legislative attempts in recent years aimed at fighting the heroin epidemic in Missouri. But the only bill to become law is a measure allowing law enforcement to carry the overdose antidote. And so far very few police departments have taken advantage of the law.

Michael and Kelley McDonald and Laura and Pete Stenger reminisce about their sons Sean McDonald and Mitch Stenger at Cottleville Wine Seller in St. Charles County. Both Sean and Mitch died of heroin overdoses in 2014. Mitch used to work at the Wine Seller
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

(Part 1 of 3) - On an April morning in 2014, Kelley McDonald woke up in her suburban St. Charles home and went downstairs to remind her son Sean to take his bipolar medication.

“I go over to the couch and I kind of shake him and I’m like come on buddy you’ve got to take your medicine. And that’s when I looked at him and he was kind of blue and I started screaming,” said Kelley McDonald, her voice shaking as she sits next to her husband Michael at a restaurant gazebo one year later.

Pearl Holden portrait
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Adrienne Holden has seen hard deaths and easier deaths. Long ones and short ones. Times when the deceased left their families with precise instructions for their care and burial, and times when they did not.

Courtesy of Raven

Joe Eulberg  doesn't remember what made him so upset that he flipped a table during an argument with his wife 20 years ago.

He does remember the outcome.

"A few days after that, Barbara, my wife, came and said you need to get help or I'm going to leave and take the kids,” Eulberg said in a recent interview with St. Louis Public Radio.

Eulberg turned for help to the Raven.

Alex Heuer

September is World Alzheimer’s Month and statistics from the recently released ‘World Alzheimer Report 2015’ show that by 2050, an estimated 131.5 million people across the globe will have dementia. Currently, that number sits at about 46.8 million people worldwide. A shift in the proportional growth of older populations is the root cause of that increase, but still, the numbers are startling.

Ameren's power plant in Labadie is the largest in the state.
Art Chimes

Updated 5:00 p.m., Sept. 24 with vote result - The Missouri Air Conservation Commission has voted to designate parts of Franklin and St. Charles counties as "unclassifiable" for sulfur dioxide pollution.

Thursday's vote follows a recommendation by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources earlier this week.

Adrian Clark | Flickr

Even Medicaid is out of reach for some of Missouri’s poorest children, who are uninsured at a rate 2.5 times as high as their counterparts in Illinois. Being uninsured can limit a child’s access to health care or wreak havoc on a family’s finances in the case of an emergency. 

New census numbers show that about 5 percent of Missouri children in families with incomes below 200 percent of poverty ($3,348 a month for a family of three) did not have health insurance in 2014. In Illinois, which has twice as many low-income families, only 2 percent of children in that demographic were uninsured.

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