Health, Science, Environment

Health, science, and environmental news

Ganymede, Jupiter's largest moon, has a large bulge at its equator.
NASA

Something strange has happened on Ganymede, this solar system’s largest moon. Orbiting Jupiter, planetary experts discovered it has a large icy bulge.

“We were basically very surprised,” said William McKinnon, a professor in Washington University's Earth and Planetary Sciences Department. “It’s like looking at old art or an old sculpture. We looked at old images of Ganymede taken by the Voyager spacecraft in the 1970s that had been completely overlooked, an enormous ice plateau, hundreds of miles across and a couple miles high.”

Express Scripts Chief Medical Officer, Steve Miller, at company headquarters in St. Louis.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

When two new drugs for hepatitis C hit the market, they were a game-changer.  

About 95 percent of hepatitis C patients can be cured with either Harvoni or Vikiera Pak, two drug regimens developed by two competing pharmaceutical companies. No longer did patients have to endure the severe side effects of older treatments, which were often taken as weekly injections.

St. Louis Health Department

The director of the St. Louis City Department of Health, Pam Walker, has announced her retirement after eight years in the position.

In that time, she has overseen health initiatives, a citywide, secondhand smoking ban, and major changes in St. Louis’ healthcare landscape — including the closure of Connect Care, a clinic that provided urgent care and specialty appointments to people without insurance.  

Ed Spevak / Saint Louis Zoo

Is it too early to plant carrots? What about tomatoes? And is there any use for those spiky sweetgum tree seeds?

Missouri Botanical Garden horticulturists June Hutson and Dana Rizzo were on-hand Monday to answer questions about spring gardening.

If you’re just getting started gardening, turn to the computer, Hutson said.

Child receiving asthma treatment.
Kristy Faith via Flickr

St. Louis area pediatricians will soon have help managing asthma care for their patients. The American Lung Association is implementing a program here to improve the system that primary care clinics use to identify and treat the disease.

Jonathan Bailey | NIH

Every day, LaDonna Haley talks to patients who can’t find a psychiatrist or counselor who takes new clients in the St. Louis area. She estimates that 10 percent of those callers live in a rural county.

File photo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis-based Monsanto lined up its experts for a conference call with reporters on Tuesday, to challenge last week’s determination by a World Health Organization committee that the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup weed killer could be dangerous to people with frequent exposure. 

soybean and corn fields in southern Illinois
File photo | Rachel Heidenry | St. Louis Beacon

A team of 17 cancer experts assembled by the World Health Organization has ruled the most commonly used herbicide a “probable carcinogen.”

St. Louis MetroMarket President Jeremy Goss, SLU Department Chair Millie Mattfeldt-Beman and HOSCO CEO Gibron Burchett are working together to implement a grant from Incarnate Word Foundation to reduce food insecurity.
Maggie Rotermund | Courtesy Saint Louis University

A retrofitted city bus full of fresh local food is slated to roll into the JeffVanderLou neighborhood of north St. Louis this July.

An MSD crew works on a sanitation line in Webster Woods earlier this month.
Metropolitan St. Lewis Sewer District

Updated 3/19/15 to correct the bond amount being requested and add a link to the full rate change proposal.

The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District has proposed two major changes to the rates consumers pay for services and is holding a series of community meetings to explain them.

But even without the new proposals, everyone can expect to see their residential sewer rates continue to rise.

Adrian Clark | Flickr / Flickr

Hospitals are pushing for Medicaid expansion in Missouri. Physicians say it’s crucial. And yet, lawmakers in favor of expansion have been unable to offer a proposal that the legislature’s Republican majority will accept. 

Apartments in the Renaissance Place neighborhood in North St. Louis, which includes subsidized and market-rate housing.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

There’s no shortage of incentive programs to install energy-efficient appliances and fixtures in Missouri, but a new report shows that affordable, affordable, multi-family housing units are often left out of the mix.

According to the paper from the National Resources Defense Council, only 30 percent of households in those buildings within Ameren Missouri and Ameren Illinois' service areas are participating in energy efficiency programs. Energy costs can disproportionately impact low-income families, who spend nearly 14 percent of their annual income on utilities, according to the Missouri Department of Energy.

This photo of the former Carter Carburetor plant was taken in Aug. 2011, prior to the start of the cleanup.
Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 3/13/15 after the meeting:

Demolition of the old Carter Carburetor plant on North Grand Avenue is expected to begin this summer.

That's according to HRP Associates, the main contractor for ACF Industries, the company responsible for much of the cleanup.

HRP and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency described the projected remediation schedule at a public meeting Thursday night at the Herbert Hoover Boys & Girls Club.

A model of the heart of a patient with complex congenital heart disease, created at St. Louis University.
Dr. Wilson King

The development of 3-D printers, which use computer designs to create solid objects, are revolutionizing the way engineers make prototypes, models and even some consumer goods. The practical applications for the health-care industry are huge — and they’re starting to happen in St. Louis.

Pasta contemplates a question from 'St. Louis on the Air' host Don Marsh on March 10, 2015, at St. Louis Public Radio.
Alex Heuer / St. Louis Public Radio

Sometimes what you really need is a furry friend.

That’s where Furry Friends Recovery can help. The St. Louis nonprofit connects therapy pet teams with mental health facilities, support groups and individuals who need help. While there are many therapy animals, Furry Friends co-founders Marion Endress and Tricia Hogan both have dogs. Dogs are sensitive to moods and emotions, Hogan said.

Ameren's Callaway reactor is the only commercial nuclear power plant in Missouri.
Missouri Coalition for the Environment

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has renewed the operating license for Ameren's Callaway nuclear power plant through 2044.

But ongoing litigation could quash that renewal.

The Rev. Starsky Wilson, co-chair of the Ferguson Commission.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

The Department of Justice report on the Ferguson Police Department and court system should not have come as a surprise, Ferguson Commission chairman the Rev. Starsky Wilson said. After all, his group has heard and discussed many of the same themes, he said.

The Solar Impulse 1 rests in its inflatable hangar at Lambert Airport after landing in St. Louis on June 4, 2013.
Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

Two years ago, we reported on a solar plane that touched down in St. Louis on its way across the United States.

Now it's successor is on its way around the world.

Trucks dump their loads of single-stream recycling on the "tip floor" at Resource Management's Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) in Earth City, Mo.
Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

If you recycle at home, chances are you take advantage of a system called “single-stream” recycling: you mix all your bottles, newspapers, cans and containers together in a roll cart or dumpster, and a truck comes by once a week to pick them up.

But what happens next? Is that jumble of broken glass, paper, metal and plastic really getting recycled?

S. Wray Clay of the United Way of Greater St. Louis, speaks during a presentation of the annual Kids Count report in East St. Louis.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

“We need to do something different.”  

That was S. Wary Clay's message to parents during a presentation Thursday of the 2015 Kids Count report at the Lessie Bates Davis Family Development Center in East St. Louis.

St. Clair County, which includes East St. Louis, has a 30.3 percent childhood poverty rate, the second-highest for all counties in Illinois. Nearby Marion County's rate is 30.5 percent.

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