Health, Science, Environment | St. Louis Public Radio

Health, Science, Environment

Health, science, and environmental news

Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh continued the discussion about the opioid epidemic in St. Louis. Joining him for the discussion was Howard Weissman, executive director of St. Louis’ National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse.

Weissman said the main people affected by opioid addiction are adults ages 25-45, who often have the least resources to combat the addiction.

An aerial view of Lake of the Ozarks.
Courtesy Lake of the Ozarks Convention & Visitor Bureau

Missouri will soon adopt new regulations to clean up the state’s 150 large lakes and reservoirs.

But environmentalists contend the state’s plan won’t be strong enough to address pollution caused by harmful nutrients.

Missouri currently does not set limits on nitrogen and phosphorus. A combination of agricultural runoff, stormwater runoff, sewage treatment plant discharges and other sources can cause an excessive amount of the nutrients to enter lakes, rivers and streams. Nutrient pollution can render bodies of water unsuitable for drinking and recreation, cause fish kills, and drag down oxygen levels to create “dead zones,” similar to the one that exists in the Gulf of Mexico. 

Lenita Newberg (left) and Neil Altman (right) talk about  the therapeutic practice of psychoanalysis.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked with Neil Altman about understanding race, social class and culture through a psychoanalytic lens. Also joining the discussion was Lenita Newberg, director of the Advanced Psychodynamic Psychotherapy Program at the St. Louis Psychoanalytic Institute.

Links 2 Health, a mobile health screening unit, is providing services at four north St. Louis County Metro transit centers. December 1, 2017.
Marissanne Lewis-Thompson | St. Louis Public Radio

A mobile health screening unit will begin providing services on Monday at four north St. Louis County Metro transit centers.

 

Links 2 Health was announced Friday during a ceremony at the Wellston Transit Center.

 

The program is a collaborative between the St. Louis County Department of Public Health and Bi-State Development to bring the mobile unit to transit riders in north St. Louis County.

 

The Christian Care Home at 800 Chambers Road in Ferguson. A union representing about 100 employees is planning for a strike to begin on Dec. 1, 2017.
Provided by SEIU Healthcare

After filing a federal complaint, nursing home workers at the Christian Care Home in Ferguson plan to strike outside the facility early Friday morning. Union officials said they are protesting unfair labor practices.

Brenda Davis, a certified medication technician, said that leadership cut back hours for staff and changed schedules without giving notice, or a chance for the union to bargain. That left many shifts understaffed.

“We just don’t have the help. There’s nobody there. The work is so heavy, we have literally had two people for a floor of 50 and 60 residents,” said Davis, a member of the union's bargaining committee.

Saint Louis University biologist Gerardo Camilo telling a story live on stage at The Story Collider event at The Ready Room on Oct. 5, 2017.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

The night began with a story told by a science journalist who tried to cure her autoimmune disease by swallowing parasitic worms. It finished with the story of a young primate researcher who nearly died after being attacked by two chimpanzees. 

On Oct. 5, St. Louis Public Radio and The Story Collider podcast collaborated for the second time to present five personal science stories live, on stage, at The Ready Room. It was the first time I hosted a show with local comedian Zack Stovall since we joined The Story Collider's team of producers last summer. The theme of the night was "Resilience." Some of these stories showed how resilience is necessary to scientific research. Others showed how they used scientific knowledge to overcome major challenges in their lives.

Medical assistant Raquis Tyler, Dr. Heidi Miller and nurse Cindi Boehm discuss treatment plans for patients at Family Care Health Centers in St. Louis.
File photo | Tim Lloyd | St. Louis Public Radio

Once again, people who don’t get health insurance through their job are logging into online market places set up by the Affordable Care Act to buy it on their own. This year, the enrollment season is shorter —  six weeks — but business is brisk.  

In the first four weeks of this year’s enrollment season, 78,676 Missourians enrolled in a plan, according to numbers released Wednesday by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. That’s about 17,000 more people than were signed up during the same period last year.  

In Illinois, the four-week total was 95,434, up from 68,198 in 2016.

A concentrated animal feeding operation consisting of black and white dairy cows all in a row, feeding from a trough.
U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has rejected demands from a group of central Missouri residents to impose air quality regulations for all concentrated animal feeding operations, regardless of size.

The state's odor rule for confined animal feeding operations only apply to the largest concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, a DNR official told the residents last week. Class 1A CAFOs in Missouri contain at least 17,500 hogs, 7,000 cows or 700,000 chickens.

A wind turbine.
Provided by Ameren Missouri

In a couple of years, Missouri cities and corporations could be receiving more electricity from wind power as Ameren Missouri ramps up its wind power facilities. 

The exterior of Mercy Hospital Springfield.
Provided | Mercy

Updated Nov. 27 with federal decision — Following an investigation and subsequent layoffs, Mercy Hospital Springfield is no longer at risk of losing federal funding due to reports of patient abuse. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services gave notice this month that the southwest Missouri hospital has achieved compliance with patient care standards after implementing a corrective plan.

Tesla installed a 200-kilowatt solar array to power the Hospital del Niño in Puerto Rico.
Tesla

About a month ago, PJ Wilson arrived in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where 3.4 million people were left without power after hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Wilson, the former director of Renew Missouri, noticed immediately that many residents were suffering from depression, after having lost their jobs or not being able to reach loved ones by phone. 

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

How bad will flu season be this year?

Well, it’ll be bad for you, if you catch it. So, get a flu shot, health officials say.

Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say they can’t accurately predict the number of people who will get the flu in a given season, but research shows that vaccinations reduce the risk of influenza by 40 to 60 percent. They recommend flu shots for everyone over 6 months old.

It’s a familiar story in rural America. Four years ago the Pemiscot County hospital, the lone public hospital in Missouri’s poorest county, nearly closed. What’s keeping it in business today has also become increasingly common in rural healthcare: relationships with a handful of local pharmacies.


A fire rages out of control in a warehouse after walls collapsed during a five-alarm fire in St. Louis last Wednesday. Nearly 200 St. Louis firefighters battled the warehouse containing numerous paper products and nearly 200,000 candles.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Environmental Protection Agency officials say there is no evidence of asbestos in the debris from an intense fire that occurred in south St. Louis last week. 

Officials from the EPA and the St. Louis City Department of Health presented the findings at a Shaw Neighborhood Association meeting Monday night. The EPA sent 80 samples to a laboratory to be tested for asbestos. The first 21 were sampled on Friday in areas close to the warehouse on Park Avenue and test results indicated that three of them contained asbestos fibers.

That prompted the city department of health to request additional samples that were collected the next day in areas downwind from the site.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: October 1, 2008 - I first suspected that Boswell's life would be shortened after he bit my wife on our nuptial bed. Boswell was my dog, a feisty Toto-like terrier who shared my bachelor bed and resented the intrusion of a woman where he felt a dog -- Boswell -- ought to be. As it turns out, my suspicion was correct, and he did not live out the year. Staying with others while I and my bride were overseas, Boswell resented being denied chicken bones, ate them anyway, and died of the consequences. To this day I miss him.

A fire rages out of control in a warehouse after walls collapsed during a five-alarm fire in St. Louis on Nov. 15, 2017. Nearly 200 St. Louis firefighters battled the warehouse containing numerous paper products and nearly 200,000 candles.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Earlier this week during an intense fire at a warehouse in south St. Louis, St. Louis Fire Deputy Chief Brian Walsh called for a fire engine to sound its horn – an audible signal telling firefighters to get out of the building and away from the fire.

“That evacuation call saved lives,” said Capt. Garon Mosby of the St. Louis Fire Department. “That evacuation was probably one of the best things happening because we had members on the roof and quite a few members in the basement.”

An illustration of prescription drugs.
Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

President Donald Trump's proposal to cut the National Institutes of Health 2018 budget by more than a fifth could severely hamper the ability to deliver life-saving treatments to patients, according to a report by Washington University researchers.

In a study published Thursday in the journal Cell Chemical Biology, researchers looked at 100 of the most prescribed drugs and drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the last decade. The NIH funded 93 percent of the 100 widely prescribed drugs and 97 percent of drugs approved between 2010 and 2016.

Monsanto's widely-used weed killer Roundup on a shelf in Home Depot.
File photo | Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

Monsanto and several growers associations filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday against the state of California for adding the herbicide ingredient glyphosate to a list of cancer-causing substances. 

California's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment announced in July it would add glyphosate to Proposition 65. Known as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, the California law requires the state to publish a list of substances known to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity.

Lara Hamdan / St. Louis Public Radio

Universal design involves designing buildings, products and services that meet the accessibility needs of everyone. It can help people with disabilities, but it’s intended for everyone.

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked about how the use of universal design can help people with disabilities and can improve the overall safety and quality of life of all people when used during disasters.

Arianna Soldati,  a postdoctoral candidate in volcanology at the University of Missouri-Columbia, presents a basaltic rock, which she collected from a volcano for her research.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

One night at an airport in Syracuse, New York, Arianna Soldati, a postdoctoral candidate in volcanology at the University of Missouri-Columbia, found herself waiting on a continually delayed flight. To pass the time, she opened her suitcase and fished out a bag of volcanic rocks she had collected on a recent trip. Then, she started showing them to people at her gate. 

"Everyone was really excited. Most people have never seen lava before and they had a ton of questions and the delay went by faster than usual," Soldati said. 

Soldati has always found joy in sharing her research with the public, which is why she created a science outreach program this fall to bring science presentations to rural towns in Missouri.

42 cases of chronic wasting disease, a fatal neurological disease, has been found in white-tailed deer in Missouri.
Bill Bumgarner | Flickr

The Missouri Department of Conservation is conducting a mandatory chronic wasting disease tissue sampling of deer killed in 25 select counties this Saturday and Sunday.

Deer hunters will be required to bring all harvested white-tailed deer to a designated sampling station to test if it has chronic wasting disease— or CWD. It’s a fatal neurological disease, which causes the breakdown of brain tissue in deer.

Lara Hamdan / St. Louis Public Radio

Transition from jail back to the community can be a difficult process that often leads to repeat offenses and more jail time.

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked about local efforts to improve the health outcomes for people re-entering their communities after time in jail. St. Louis Integrated Health Network’s Re-Entry Community Linkages (RE-LINK) program helps make the transition easier.

Tower for drilling horizontally into the Marcellus Shale Formation for natural gas in Moreland Township, Pa.
Ruhrfisch | Wikimedia Commons

Natural gas company Spire could soon win federal approval to build a 65-mile pipeline that ferries natural gas from eastern U.S. shale formations to the St. Louis region. However, some residents and environmental lawyers want to put a halt to the project, saying there are too many environmental risks involved with building the pipeline. 

The Spire STL Pipeline would run through Scott, Greene and Jersey counties in Illinois and St. Charles and St. Louis counties in Missouri. Because it crosses state lines, it requires approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which released an environmental assessment of the project at the end of September.

Area residents and environmentalists complain that the project would only encourage more hydraulic fracturing, an activity that emits methane, one of several greenhouse gases that causes climate change.

Lara Hamdan / St. Louis Public Radio

None of former International Space Station commander Scott Kelly’s life experiences would have happened had he not read Tom Wolfe’s “The Right Stuff.”

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked with Kelly about his new memoir, "Endurance: A Year in Space, a Lifetime of Discovery,” and a new PBS film, "Beyond a Year in Space."

Lara Hamdan / St. Louis Public Radio

The Climate Change Theatre action put theater and advocacy together to bring awareness to the harmful environmental impacts of climate change. The action began on Oct. 1 and runs through Nov. 18 – involving over 225 events in 40 countries.

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked about a local production of short plays inspired by climate change and the current attitudes towards science.

Analysis: Transplant system fails many patients here

Nov 5, 2017

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 7, 2008 - It has been nearly 25 years since the nation passed the National Organ Transplant Act, which created a system for procuring organs and distributing them. It barred the sale of organs from either deceased or living donors.

The St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station is expected to open in 2019.
St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station

Work will begin later this month on a new aquarium at Union Station in downtown St. Louis.

Officials gathered Thursday for a groundbreaking ceremony for the two-story, 120,000-square-foot aquarium that will house aquatic life that can be found in the ocean and the nearby Missouri and Mississippi rivers.

The St. Louis Veterans Home on Lewis and Clark Boulevard in St. Louis County.
Provided | Missouri Veteran's Commission

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is calling for a fourth investigation in less than six months of the St. Louis Veterans Home in north St. Louis County, following a public meeting Monday where relatives and staff accused the facility of neglecting patients.

“These allegations are deeply disturbing,” Greitens, a Republican, wrote in a statement. “We will continue to demand the best for our veterans, and we will hold accountable those responsible for their care.”

Open enrollment for people who buy their own health insurance starts Wednesday and ends Dec. 15. That means there are only 45 days to shop for coverage. The shorter enrollment period this year is just one of the changes to the process for buying insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

Here are five important factors to keep in mind if you plan to sign up for ACA coverage for 2018.

1. The health law has not been repealed.

Despite the efforts of President Trump and the Republican-led Congress, the Affordable Care Act remains the law of the land.

Veterans Home resident Curtis Washington, shares his concerns as his wife, Sandra, holds a microphone at an event on October 2017.  October 2017.
File photo | Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

This story has been updated.

Missed medications. Falsified records. A veteran with dementia placed in a scalding hot shower, unable to move.

One by one, concerned family members and employees of the St. Louis Veterans Home — some angry, others in tears — took to a microphone at North Kirkwood Middle School late Monday. They alleged that the 300-bed facility in north St. Louis County is so mismanaged that its care of aging residents amounts to neglect. Patients with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias are particularly vulnerable, they said.  

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