Health, Science, Environment | St. Louis Public Radio

Health, Science, Environment

Health, science, and environmental news

The coal ash landfill hearing got underway at 9 a.m. and lasted into the evening. Ameren employees wearing bright yellow vests attended the hearing in shifts throughout the day.
Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

The chambers of the Franklin County Commission were filled to near capacity for much of the day on Thursday for a public hearing about proposed changes to the county’s coal ash landfill regulations.

The regulations will affect a coal ash landfill that Ameren wants to build next to its power plant in Labadie.

Jean Ponzi (left) and Richard Reilly (right), managers of EarthWays Center
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

Chances are, you’ve heard the popular term “go green” at some point, indicating efforts to promote more sustainable methods of living. With campaigns to promote “going green,” some people are seeking out more ways to conserve energy ― at home ― and be a little friendlier to the Earth.

On Thursday, “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh talked with Jean Ponzi and Richard Reilly, managers of EarthWays Center, a division of the Missouri Botanical Garden about the various ways to lead more energy efficient lives.

Peter Raven (left), the President Emeritus of the Missouri Botanical Garden, and Rudi Roeslein (right), CEO of Roeslein Associates
Áine O'Connor | St. Louis Public Radio

People in urban areas may not think about the importance of prairies. But beyond the asphalt, concrete and glass of the city, is a country rich in prairie land.

But, what is the importance of prairies and how do they affect our everyday lives?

On Thursday's “St. Louis on the Air” Peter Raven, president emeritus of the Missouri Botanical Garden, and Rudi Roeslein, CEO of Roeslein Associates, joined host Don Marsh to discuss the role of prairies conserving of natural ecosystems and their importance for production of next-generation biofuels.

Members of the St. Louis Regional Heroin Initiative flank posters listing those arrested for heroin-related charges Wednesday, June 10, 2015 in the St. Charles City Police Department.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

More than 50 heroin traffickers have been arrested for crimes committed in St. Charles County. Most were arrested in a 30-hour period, bringing a swift conclusion to a ten-month collaborative investigation.

Since last fall state, local and federal authorities have been working together to bring about the arrests, representing what the head of the St. Louis region’s Drug Enforcement Agency described as a more proactive partnership than past collaborations.

Alex Heuer

If there is one word to describe Teri Griege it would be ‘resilient.’ She began running marathons in her forties after conquering an alcohol addiction and worked her way up to competing in triathlons including the Ironman.

“It’s a 2.4 mile open water swim, a 112 mile bike [ride] and then the run is a marathon, 26.2 miles,” Griege explained. Her goal was to compete in the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii.

A cluster of patient chairs in the adult dentistry unit on the second floor. Community health clinics are waiting to see if dental coverage will be extended to adults in Missouri's Medicaid program this year.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

With three floors and 92 chairs for dental appointments, the new St. Louis Education and Oral Health Clinic has the equipment to fill some of the region’s oral health needs. 

Kirksville’s A.T. Still University built the $24 million facility in the Lafayette Square neighborhood of St. Louis to train third-year students in its recently established dentistry school.

Franklin County residents show their opposition to Ameren's coal ash landfill at a county commission meeting in late 2011.
Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

In April, Franklin County considered a proposal to ease its restrictions on coal ash landfills. Even though that meeting was open to the public, county residents were not allowed to speak. This Thursday they’ll get their chance.

The all-day hearing with county’s board of commissioners is the latest installment in a six-year battle over Ameren’s plans to build a coal ash landfill next to its power plant in Labadie.

Attendees listen to a Trauma Awareness presentation at Jennings High School on June 9, 2015.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Traumatic events—such as child abuse, surviving a natural disaster or witnessing a crime—can have a long-term effect on a person’s mental health and well-being. The depth and scope of that pain is often hard for others to recognize, but two St. Louis-area agencies hope to change that.  

Danielle Kain, 12, catches a football during the first day of summer camp at the Boys & Girls Club at Ferguson Middle School.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Amid bunches of blue balloons, the newest chapter of The Boys & Girls Club of Greater St. Louis held its first day of summer camp at Ferguson Middle School on Monday.

About 200 students — ages 6 to 15 — signed up for the full-day program, which includes outdoor activities, field trips, and classes. In the fall, students aged 6 to 18 will be able to visit for after-school activities.

Blessing Hasan, 14, said her mother signed her up, but she wanted to come for the arts and music classes offered at the camp. Living in Ferguson over the past year has been rough, she said.

Chiggers are the larval stage of some mites and have only six legs, like this preserved specimen on a laboratory slide. But they're not insects — the hairy, reddish adult mites have eight legs like their relatives the spiders and scorpions.
Ashley Dowling | University of Arkansas

Warm weather means the return of mosquitoes, ticks ... and tiny biting mites known as chiggers. They're nearly invisible. But if they bite you, you'll know it.

Adrian Clark | Flickr

2016 will be the third year that Missouri goes without Medicaid expansion, as Republicans have stayed firmly against it in the General Assembly.

SAGE coordinator Eugene Potchen-Webb (left), volunteer Clarissa Jackson (center) and executive director Sherrill Wayland (right) stand outside SAGE's current offices at 4168 Juniata St. in Tower Grove.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Sherrill Wayland started SAGE eight years ago, in a one-bedroom apartment at the Tower Grove Manor.

Now, the group that helps lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender older adults find housing, healthcare and other services will start to expand their reach, by coming under the wing of the state’s largest advocacy group for the LGBT community, PROMO Fund.  

Áine O'Connor

Following a conversation of the Saint Louis Zoo’s new polar bear exhibit with its curator of mammals, Steve Bircher, St. Louis Public Radio science reporter Véronique LaCapra and “St. Louis on the Air” producer Alex Heuer took a field trip to the nearby Penguin and Puffin Coast.

“It’s been a while since I’ve been to the zoo, and this opened up in March,” Véronique said. “But I have not yet had a chance to see it, so we’re going to take a sneak peek inside.”

Kali takes a swim at the Saint Louis Zoo.
Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

This Saturday, St. Louisans will get their first chance to see the new polar bear at the Saint Louis Zoo.

The 2 1/2 year-old, 850-pound Kali arrived at the zoo in early May, but he has been kept out of sight since then for a health quarantine and to give him time to get used to his new surroundings.

Members of the media got an early look at Kali and the zoo's new polar bear exhibit space on Thursday. Here's St. Louis Public Radio's sneak preview!

A Level I Trauma Center at St. Louis University Hospital.
Provided by Saint Louis University Hospital

The Monday announcement that nonprofit, Catholic SSM Health is acquiring Saint Louis University Hospital, the medical school's teaching facility, from for-profit Tenet was expected by many St. Louisans — expected, that is, nearly a generation ago.

In 1997, the SSM network lost its bid to buy the SLU medical complex at Grand Boulevard and Vista Avenue. The battle pitted the archbishop against the Jesuit-run university and divided rank-and-file Catholics.

A view of Saint Louis University Hospital, taken 02/23/15.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Saint Louis University Hospital will soon come under the ownership of SSM Health, one of the largest not-for-profit Catholic health care systems in the country.  

Magdalene St. Louis director Tricia Roland-Hamilton and sex traffic survivor Shelia McCain cut the ribbon for the opening of the Magdalene House in St. Louis' Old North neighborhood Saturday, May 30, 2015.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

A four-year-long project to open a residential program in St. Louis for women who have been victims of sex trafficking has come to fruition. Magdalene St. Louis held opening ceremonies for the newly renovated home in the city’s Old North neighborhood Saturday.

The first seven women accepted into the two-year program move in on June 8. The house has the space for eleven, and according to Magdalene St. Louis Executive Director Tricia Roland-Hamilton, the program already has 25 women on a waiting list.

Zella Jackson Price (right) and her daughter Melanie Gilmore are reunited, nearly 50 years after Price says she was told her daughter died at birth.
Wiley Price | St. Louis American

As a well-known gospel singer continues to search for answers as to how and why her daughter was taken from her at birth, a newly opened adoption record holds some clues for the ongoing investigation.  

Affinia Healthcare employees listen to a press conference held by Missouri Senator Roy Blunt. Affinia has increased its staff by 16 percent in the past four years with an influx of funding from the Affordable Care Act.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Republican Senator Roy Blunt visited a community health clinic in north St. Louis Thursday and pledged support for the model, which uses federal funds to provide basic healthcare services for people who are uninsured or living in poverty.   

The Affordable Care Act included an increase in funding to community health centers over the past five years. Congress has extended the funding for another two years.

One demonstration garden at the Missouri Botanical Garden gives city-dwellers inspiration for plants that do well in small lots.
Stephanie Lecci | St. Louis Public Radio

Whether your garden needs a little TLC or needs to be planted in the first place, the St. Louis area has some unique gardening hacks to help even the brownest thumb among us.

With resources like the following at the tips of your gardening gloves, St. Louis makes it easy to get your garden on.

What to plant

A section of the Katy Trail in St. Charles, MO.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

The longest Rails-to-Trails project in the country, and Missouri's "skinniest state park" turns 25 years old this year. After weathering floods, storms and even a tornado, the 240-mile long Katy Trail attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors annually. 

About 70 people protested against Monsanto outside the Missouri Botanical Garden Saturday, May 23, 2015. They want the garden to stop accepting money from the agri-business company.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Botanical Garden visitors were greeted by flashes of color even before they saw Chinese lantern displays Saturday morning. About 70 anti-Monsanto protesters lined the sidewalks outside the garden, some carrying 3-D monarch butterfly props. One protester brought along a dog in a bee costume.

“We find it really hypocritical that a garden, which is by the way a beautiful garden, and that has in its mission to promote sustainability, is receiving large amounts of funds from an herbicide producer,” protest organizer Aubrey Yarbrough explained. Yarbrough is an organic farmer with GMO Free Midwest.

May 2015 graduates. Front row from left to right: Sean Marks, Cory Chandler, Prince Farris-Settles, Alvin Love, Michael Harris (red shirt). Back row from left to right: Matt Hermeyer (white shirt), Paul Oryem, Sean Kempf, Joel Smith, Stacey Robinson.
Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is awarding St. Louis Community College just over $190 thousand to continue its environmental job training program.

This is the fifth time that the college has received an EPA grant since 2000.

The Environmental Remediation Job Training program is a collaboration between St. Louis Community College and Saint Louis University. The community college recruits and selects the participants and helps connect graduates with potential employers; SLU provides the classroom facilities and conducts the training.

Flares at the Bridgeton Landfill are used to burn off smelly underground gases.
Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

The owners of the Bridgeton Landfill are facing fines from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources over noncompliance with emissions monitoring requirements.

According to a letter from Leanne Mosby, the DNR’s division director, Bridgeton Landfill LLC will be penalized up to $10,000 per violation, per day until the company resolves the issues. According to the letter the company:

Carol Dronsfield

Janet Krone Kennedy, licensed clinical psychologist and founder of NYC Sleep Doctor, spoke with “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh to discuss her book “The Good Sleeper: The Essential Guide to Sleep for Your Baby (And You)." The book provides information and training tools to assist new parents with developing sleep patterns for their infants and babies.

“Go to sleep, little baby”

Rosie and Holly Nauheim stand outside their home in St. Louis on May 18, 2015.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

When her health insurance provider told Holly Naunheim that it wouldn’t cover her daughter’s stay in a residential treatment facility for an eating disorder, she was furious.  

“I was hysterical,” Naunheim said. “My husband and her therapist said, ‘We’re going to fight this.’”

Naunheim's daughter, Rosie, 15, had struggled with anorexia for three years, going in and out of doctor’s offices and a treatment center. In the eighth grade, she was so sick that she had to attend her graduation with a feeding tube taped under her nose.  

Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Johnetta Craig, walks to a meeting at the Carondalet location of Family Care Health Centers in St. Louis.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Despite the efforts of healthcare advocates, hospitals and notable former legislators, the Missouri legislature did not pass Medicaid expansion this year, or even bring it to the debate floor. That means an estimated 147,000 Missourians will have another year without health coverage, and the community health clinics that care for the uninsured will continue trying to bridge the gap.   

Microbiologist Mary-Dell Chilton works in her lab at Syngenta.
Syngenta

Mary-Dell Chilton pioneered the field of genetic engineering in agriculture.

She has spent most of her decades-long career working for Syngenta, where she founded the agribusiness company's research on genetically modified seeds.

But Chilton started out in academia. And it was here in St. Louis, at Washington University, that she led the team that created the first genetically-modified plants in the early 1980s.

A rendering of the micro-electrode that Washington University scientists have designed to be implanted into the stump of amputations and integrate with nerves.
courtesy Washington University

Scientists at Washington University have been awarded just under $1.9 million to test a device that could help people with prosthetic hands feel what they are touching. The funding is part of a larger project sponsored by the U.S. Defense Department.

Over the next three years biomedical engineering professor Dan Moran and his team will use the grant funding to test the device in macaque monkeys. If all goes well the device would then be tested on humans in clinical trials.

The Saint Louis Zoo's curator of birds Michael Macek works to conserve Humboldt penguins in Punta San Juan, Peru.
Courtesy of Saint Louis Zoo

The St. Louis Zoo is spotlighting its efforts to save threatened wildlife Saturday with educational activities and a children's scavenger hunt during its 10th annual Endangered Species Day.

Zoo CEO Jeffrey Bonner called the institution a leader in animal conservation, but he acknowledges that many people don't know about its vital role in saving wildlife.

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