Health, Science, Environment | St. Louis Public Radio

Health, Science, Environment

Health, science, and environmental news

Adrian Percy, head of research and development at Bayer CropScience, delivers the keynote speech  at the 2017 Ag Innovation Showcase at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

As European regulators investigate the potential $66 billion Bayer-Monsanto merger, Bayer's CropScience division is preparing to address challenges in crop technology, especially those tied to Monsanto's products. 

At the annual Ag Innovation Showcase in St. Louis hosted by the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, Adrian Percy, Bayer CropScience's head of research and development, said a priority for the merged companies would be addressing a decline in pollinators and meeting the high demand for herbicides to combat resistant weeds.

Dogs and cats acting strangely? On Tuesday's St. Louis on the Air, an animal behaviorist stepped in to answer your questions about animal behavior.
tohu | Flickr

Dr. Debra Horwitz, DVM, a St. Louis-based veterinary behaviorist and veterinarian joined St. Louis on the Air again on Tuesday to share her pet wisdom and answer listeners’ questions about their dogs and cats. 

Here are some of the most pressing questions posed to Horwitz, of Veterinary Behavior Consultations, during the noon hour along with her answers.

Does tone matter when it comes to addressing dogs and cats?

Planned Parenthood Great Plains plans to offer abortion services at two more clinics in Missouri, the organization announced Monday, bringing to three the number of abortion providers in Missouri.

Planned Parenthood’s midtown Kansas City clinic has received an abortion license and will now offer medication abortion services.

The organization anticipates its Columbia clinic will offer both medication and surgical abortion services in the coming days.

A solar energy project on the roof of Nestle Purina's builidng in downtown St. Louis.
Microgrid Energy

The city of St. Louis could soon commit to an ambitious goal to depend on renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power for its electricity by 2035. 

Board of Alderman President Lewis Reed introduced a resolution Friday that would completely transition the city away from using fossil fuels. The St. Louis region currently receives less than 5 percent of its electricity from wind, solar and other renewable sources.

Microgrid installed two solar arrays at Busch Stadium.
Microgrid Energy

Nearly 600,000 people in the Midwest are working in the clean energy sector and that number likely will continue to rise, according to advocates for the industry. 

The nonprofit groups Clean Energy Trust and Environmental Entrepreneurs released a report Thursday that demonstrated a significant increase in the past year in the number of people who work in fields such as wind and solar power and energy auditing. Illinois led the region's clean energy sector growth by adding nearly 120,000 jobs, largely in the area of energy efficiency. Missouri showed growth in multiple areas, including renewable energy, which saw jobs grow by 14.5 percent in the last year.

Tia Hosler woke up at 7:35 a.m. on a friend’s couch next to her newborn son’s crib after an overnight babysitting gig.

The 26-year-old had slept through her alarm and was late for the bus, her ride to group therapy in Fort Wayne, Indiana. And now she had to scramble. She tied her Kool-Aid-red hair into a tight bun and kissed her 2-month-old, Marsean. 


Danielle Lee, visiting assistant professor at SIUE and advocate on access in STEM fields, joined host Don Marsh to discuss diversity in the sciences.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

While there’s a rising growth in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) jobs in the United States, there’s a dwindling number of Americans interested in and qualified for pursuing such careers. Animal behavioral scientist and Southern Illinois State University-Edwardsville visiting professor Danielle Lee wants to change that, particularly with populations traditionally underrepresented in those fields – women and minorities.

A Washington University researcher holds a piece of paper coated with tiny gold particles that can be used to test blood for Zika virus.
Provided | Washington University School of Medicine

St. Louis researchers have used a strain of the Zika virus to shrink highly lethal brain tumors in mice. 

The study, run by Washington University and the University of California San Diego, used 33 lab mice with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. Mice injected with a strain of the Zika virus lived longer and were measured to have smaller tumors than the control group, which was injected with saltwater.

The SuperTIGER detects cosmic rays, high-energy radiation that's produced from supernovas. Researchers at Washington University and NASA will launch the 6,000 pound device over Antarctica in November.
Bob Binns

In November, a team of scientists from Washington University and NASA will head to Antarctica to launch a device that will help them study space radiation. 

When massive stars die, they create explosions known as supernovas. Researchers theorize that the shocks from these events strip particles of their electrons and send them through space close to the speed of light. These high energy particles are called cosmic rays and studying them could help physicists understand the universe outside of our solar system.

Amid recent and ongoing destruction caused by Hurricane Harvey, the recovery effort will take center stage.

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked with Suzanna Long, professor and department chair of engineering management and systems engineering at Missouri S&T in Rolla.

They addressed what a comprehensive recovery plan looks like and assess the potential for disasters in Missouri.

A rendering of the St. Louis Ice Center at Creve Coeur Lake Memorial Park.
St. Louis Economic Development Partnership

The National Park Service has ordered the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to stop construction work for a proposed ice recreation facility in Creve Coeur Lake Memorial Park. 

In a letter to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources last Friday, the federal agency expressed its concerns about the St. Louis Ice Center.

"We are concerned that the Ice Center would act as a stand-alone attraction and would not encourage further outdoor recreation at the rest of the site," wrote Carol Edmondson, an outdoor recreation planner at the National Park Service.

Derek Olson via Flickr

When should parents give children their first cellphone or smartphone? What factors should be considered? How do maturity, development and sleep considerations play into it all? 

St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh talked about the issues with two doctors:

First-year Washington University medical school students board a school bus after a stop on a trip around St. Louis in August.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Every year, for the past 15 years, first year students at Washington University’s School of Medicine have climbed on board three yellow school buses and headed north. They take a route that passes through the city’s poorest neighborhoods, in a bid to introduce medical students to the lives of their future patients.

It’s a trip the school hopes will make them better doctors.

An illustration of pollution, 2017
Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has requested the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency upgrade Jefferson County's air quality status, now that levels of sulfur dioxide have dropped below the federal limit. 

In 2013, the EPA designated Jefferson County as "nonattainment," or not meeting the federal standard for sulfur dioxide, a gas that produces toxic odors and causes respiratory problems. A monitor near the Doe Run lead smelter in Herculaneum detected sulfur dioxide levels above 200 parts per billion, said Kyra Moore, director of the state's air quality control program. After the smelter closed in 2013, levels have dropped well below the 75 parts per billion limit. 

Matt Ridings | Flickr

 

Tower Grove Park in south St. Louis will see some renovations and improvements over the next few years. Park officials are unveiling a 20-year master plan on Wednesday.

The park’s new master plan includes expanding and enhancing some of the more popular areas of the park, including the farmer’s market.

The park’s executive director, Bill Reininger, said more than 200 people attended an open house in January and over 1,200 people have made suggestions for the park’s renovations through an online survey.

When An Overdose Becomes A Gateway To Recovery

Aug 30, 2017

On a cold morning last winter, Christopher Hinds says he woke up early, sick from withdrawal. He called a friend and they trekked across a highway, walking for more than two miles through the snow on a street without sidewalks to buy heroin. 

“You don’t think about nothing but getting it when you’re sick like that,” he says. 

Jamie Sentnor (L) and Deborah Phelps (R) joined host Don Marsh to talk about caring for seriously ill relatives and for the people who provide care.
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

“The supply of family caregivers will not keep pace with the future demand as our population ages and people live with multiple complex chronic conditions,” argued the authors of a recent academic article in Generations: Journal of American Society on Aging.

This point highlights an impending shortage of caregivers but also of concern is how the people who take care of our older population are cared for themselves.

Carol Van Strum has been in legal battles with the federal government and chemical industries since the 1970s. She amassed a trove of government documents, which are now being published for the first time.
Risa Scott | RF Scott Imagery

Bending a rusted, gnarled piece of wire gate just above her head, Carol Van Strum ducked into the old, dark shed where she kept some old, dark secrets.

“This was my bear deterrent,” she said of the makeshift gate.

She shined a lantern past a stack of hay bales, lighting up a row of decaying cardboard boxes that housed what’s left of her document trove.

“This is where the worst of them were,” she said. “This whole, it was just filled. And you can see the state of them. This is what they all looked like.”

After gathering dust, rust and rat poop for decades in the Siuslaw National Forest, Van Strum’s piles of documents about the chemical industry are poised to become evidence in lawsuits with billions of dollars at stake.  

For five years now, the Missouri legislature has considered legislation to create a prescription drug monitoring database that would allow pharmacists and physicians to look at their patient's prescription history for signs of misuse of narcotics. And for five years, Missouri pharmacists like Erica Hopkins have watched those efforts fail with disappointment.


This treehopper in a greenhouse at Saint Louis University would not normally have a purple horn or "pronotum." It was painted that color for identification purposes.
File photo | Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

Researchers are studying countless plants and animals to understand how climate change could threaten populations. At Saint Louis University, scientists want to know if changes in temperature could affect the mating songs of insects.  

Biologists at SLU have received $480,000 from the National Science Foundation to study how temperature affects treehopper mating songs, which could provide clues as to how climate change could affect insect survival. The loss of insect species could adversely affect agriculture and many ecosystems that depend on them.

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