Health, Science, Environment | St. Louis Public Radio

Health, Science, Environment

Health, science, and environmental news

The same day a federal appeals court overruled itself and voted to block two Missouri abortion restrictions, the state advised Missouri abortion providers that they will have to abide by a new restriction.

A memo dated Oct. 2 from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) says the agency will file emergency rules on Oct. 24 establishing standards for “complication plans” for medication-induced abortions.

An alligator snapping turtle, one of several wild turtle species that live in Missouri.
File Photo | United States Fish and Wildlife Service

Wild turtles in Missouri may soon be protected from trappers, as the Missouri Department of Conservation proposed a ban this week on the commercial harvest of turtles in the state. 

Many wild turtles that are captured and exported from the United States are sold as exotic pets or processed into food and traditional Chinese medicine. Missouri is one of a few states in the country that doesn't impose a limit on how many wild turtles that trappers can collect.

At an experimental mine at the Missouri University of S&T in Rolla, scientists are setting off explosives around lab mice and cell cultures to study how exposure to blasts in combat damage the brains of military personnel.

Neuroscientists at the University of Missouri-Columbia and Stanford University are leading the research, funded by the U.S. Department of Defense. The study is focused on mild traumatic brain injury, the most common type of brain injury affecting military personnel. However, the condition is difficult to diagnose and not well studied.

 

Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

At a free drop-in clinic for sexually transmitted disease screening in Pine Lawn, just north of St. Louis, people wait outside the door before the doors open at 8 a.m. That’s because the spots usually fill up in about an hour.

“I’d be more concerned if it didn’t fill up,” said Dr. Fred Echols, director of communicable disease for the St. Louis Department of Public Health.  “I definitely think we’re moving the needle.”

An Amtrak train approaches the Kirkwood train station as officers hand out railway safety information on Sept. 26, 2017.
Chelsea Hoye | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

Local, state, and federal transportation departments have teamed up with local police, Amtrak and the nonprofit organization Operation Lifesaver in a week-long campaign to warn against trespassing on railroad tracks.

This project’s goal is to reduce the number of deaths by train across the United States. Police enforcement is stationed across the nation in places where high numbers of vehicle or trespassing deaths have taken place.

According to the new study, a woman's weight before her first pregnancy may have long-term effects.
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases | National Institutes of Health

Intense stress faced by new moms can also affect the emotional development of their baby. That's a good reason to expand Medicaid coverage to low-income mothers, a St. Louis child psychiatrist argued Tuesday.

“If you want to have healthy infants, you have to have healthy caregivers,” Dr. Cynthia Rogers told an assembly of physicians at Washington University. “And the preterm brain is particularly vulnerable.”

A wind turbine.
Provided by Ameren Missouri

Missouri's largest utility company announced plans today that could dramatically reduce its impact on the environment. 

Ameren Missouri released multiple goals it hopes to achieve, which include adding 700 megawatts of wind power generation by 2020, along with 100 megawatts of solar power by 2027. Company leaders are speaking to developers about a potential wind farm project and hope to provide more details by the end of this year.

A sunset at the Great Rivers National Wildlife Refuge in Annada, Mo.
Carmen Cortelyou | U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The Great River National Wildlife Refuge in Annada, Missouri,  is acquiring two islands on the Mississippi River to protect wildlife and provide more areas for outdoor recreation. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has given $677,500 to the refuge in northeast Missouri, a portion of $21.9 million the U.S. Department of the Interior dedicated to conserving public lands in 16 states. A family near the river used to farm on the 702-acre property, called Slim and Haps Islands, but stopped as flooding increased along the Mississippi River.

Carla has started taking classes, hoping to make her children proud by becoming fluent in English over the next few years. St. Louis Public Radio has changed Carla’s name because she is an unauthorized immigrant. May 2017.
Jenny Simeone-Cases | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Republicans have jumped behind the latest proposal in Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

A Senate bill would gut protections for people with pre-existing conditions and redistribute health care spending in the form of block grants to states. States like Missouri, which did not expand Medicaid coverage to low-income people under the 2010 health law, would see a boost in funding; states like Illinois could lose hundreds of million dollars a year.

Flickr

Missouri leads the country when it comes to the prevalence of injuries due to falls among older adults. The injuries can cause lost independence and mobility, and result in considerable medical bills.

One in four adults age 65-plus will fall this year. Why this problem is most acute in Missouri is not exactly known.

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh discussed risk factors and how to prevent falls.

Joining him for the discussion were:

Inmates at the Medium Security Institution in St. Louis look out during a protest on July 22, 2017.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Jail inmates at the St. Louis County Justice Center in Clayton stay for an average of 59 days before their cases are tried or dismissed. But 10 miles away, at the Medium Security Institution in the city of St. Louis, the typical prisoner waits for eight months.

The St. Louis jail, which does not have air conditioning in the men’s dorms, drew protests this summer after inmates cried for help during a heat wave. The city installed temporary cooling units at the facility, also known as the Workhouse, and extreme temperatures have since subsided. Inmates and their families say more must be done to improve conditions in the aging facility. But city officials say there isn’t much more they can do.

Sikeston farmer Trey Wilson said he saw substantial damage to his soybean crops this year. On the left is what a healthy soybean plant looks like; on the right is a soybean plant showing signs of dicamba damage.
Trey Wilson

Sikeston, Missouri — In front of several greenhouse scaffolds, Steve Hamra gestured to a metal cart containing trays of seedlings for bell peppers, tomatoes and romaine lettuce. About 150 miles south of St. Louis on a 10-acre site, Hamra is growing produce hydroponically, or in water instead of soil, for about 400 schools, in Missouri and other states.

Two grizzly bear cubs arrived at the Saint Louis Zoo in the summer of 2017.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Visitors to the St. Louis Zoo will be able to watch two grizzly bear cubs from Montana starting Friday.

The male, Huckleberry and female, Finley, are both 2 1/2 years old. They and their mother were found disturbing residences and livestock, posing a risk to public safety. Montana wildlife officials killed the mother and sent the cubs to St. Louis Zoo, because zoo officials already had plans to revamp the grizzly bear exhibit.

airpix | Flickr

The words “Alcoholics Anonymous” are synonymous with addiction treatment, but the people behind an alternative therapy hope that those dealing with addiction know there are other forms of treatment out there.

Arthur Shenker, a St. Louis-based facilitator who was at one time addicted to cocaine, and Dr. Joseph Gerstein, the founder and president of SMART Recovery, joined St. Louis on the Air on Thursday to discuss their program’s approach to treating addiction with cognitive behavioral therapy.

Tahwii Spicer gave birth to her son Reece almost two years ago at home with the help of a midwife. She said almost as soon as he was born, he "army-crawled" up her body to start feeding.

“He was so ravenous!” she said. “He was hungry.


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.

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