Health, Science, Environment

Health, science, and environmental news

(photo by Rachael Macy/Saint Louis Zoo)

Two newborn lion cubs are being raised by staff at the Saint Louis Zoo more than a month after their birth, but two other cubs in the litter have died.

The African lion cubs were born Feb. 14 to the 6-year-old lioness Cabara. The zoo said Tuesday that two did not survive because Cabara couldn't produce enough milk to feed them. Zoo officials say it is not uncommon for lion mothers in the wild to rear fewer than 50 percent of the cubs born in a litter.

(Dan Kirk/Saint Louis Zoo)

An endangered beetle could be making its way back to Missouri, with some help from the Saint Louis Zoo and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

If all goes well, the zoo plans to reintroduce the American burying beetle to Wah’ kon-tah Prairie in southwestern Missouri in early June.

(CDC/Dr. Ray Butler)

The Illinois Department of Public Health says the state experienced a record low number of new tuberculosis cases last year, but the news isn't all good.

Health officials say Illinois still ranks fifth in the nation when it comes to the number of TB cases. And Health Department Acting Director Arthur Kohrman says many of the new cases are the drug-resistant type, which are harder to overcome.

Officials say 359 cases of active TB were reported in Illinois in 2011. That's a decrease from 372 cases reported in 2010.

(Véronique LaCapra/St. Louis Public Radio)

Forty-three teams of teens from Missouri and four surrounding states be competing in the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition regional this weekend at Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis.

(You can see a full feature on last year's FIRST competition here, too).

(Art Chimes)

The Village of Roxana, Ill. filed suit today over contamination from the Wood River Oil Refinery.

The suit against Shell Oil, ConocoPhillips, and WRB Refining alleges damage to village property from chemicals that have spilled or leaked from the refinery.

Derek Brandt is the lead attorney on the case for the Simmons Firm, which has joined Roxana Village Attorney James Schrempf in the suit.

(Asha Paudel)

The Himalayan mountain range in Asia is one of the highest places in the world, with several peaks rising above 8,000 meters. It’s also one of the most vulnerable to climate change.

Seven years ago, Missouri Botanical Garden senior curator of ethnobotany Jan Salick traveled to the Himalayas to begin a study of how climate change is affecting alpine plants—and the local people who depend on them.

St. Louis Public Radio's Véronique LaCapra sat down with Salick to talk about her research.

View Larger Map

An eastern Missouri lead smelter scheduled to close next year could eventually make way for commercial and industrial uses.

Doe Run Co. operates the smelter in Herculaneum. It will close in 2013 after years of wrangling over environmental concerns.

(via NASA/Goddard SVS)

Updated 4:43 p.m. with comment from Glynnis Collins of the Prairie Rivers Network.

A coalition of environmental groups is taking legal action to push the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to limit nutrient pollution.

(via Saint Louis Zoo)

Updated 4:36 p.m. with comment from Jeffrey Bonner.

The Saint Louis Zoo has announced plans to buy the Forest Park Hospital site on Oakland Avenue, just south of Highway 40. The acquisition would allow the zoo to expand its parking, research, and office space.

The Saint Louis Zoo Association signed a conditional contract with the site owner, Medline Industries, Inc., on March 8. The price and contract terms were not disclosed.

snebtor | Flickr

Insect scientists say federal regulators need to take action against a growing pest problem in biotech corn.

They say corn rootworm has started to become resistant to Monsanto's Bt corn, which is genetically engineered to resist the damaging and costly pest.

The 22 scientists expressed their concerns in a letter sent to EPA earlier this week. 

University of Illinois insect behaviorist Joseph Spencer was one of them.

(Timothy Mudrovic/BJC HealthCare)

Barnes-Jewish Hospital will open its new outpatient center on Monday.

The 12-story building at the corner of Forest Park Avenue and Euclid will bring together five existing outpatient clinics under one roof. Those include a primary care clinic, along with OB/GYN, psychiatric, surgical, and specialty clinics.

Dr. Melvin Blanchard directs the internal medicine residency program at Barnes.

Speaking at a dedication ceremony for the new center, Blanchard said Barnes' existing clinics provide care to the underinsured and underserved.

(David Cappaert, Michigan State University)

Nearly half of the trees on the grounds of the Gateway Arch will be removed and replaced with a different species.

The National Park Service said Thursday that more than 900 Rosehill ash trees will be taken out over concerns about the threat posed by the Emerald Ash Borer, a beetle that has killed millions of ash trees in 15 states. Officials at the Arch say the ash trees on the grounds are also showing signs of decline from urban factors like air pollution and less than ideal soil.

OK, so this story is about weeds and weedkillers, neither of which is ever the hero of a story, but stay with me for a second: It's also about plants with superpowers.

Unless you grow cotton, corn or soybeans for a living, it's hard to appreciate just how amazing and wonderful it seemed, 15 years ago, when Roundup-tolerant crops hit the market. I've seen crusty farmers turn giddy just talking about it.

(Image courtesy National Institute on Aging)

A new marker for Alzheimer's disease can be used to predict how quickly a patient will develop memory loss and other symptoms of dementia.

Researchers at Washington University measured levels of a marker called visinin-like protein 1 in in the spinal fluid of 60 patients in the early stages of Alzheimer's then tracked their symptoms for three years.

Neurologist Dr. Rawan Tarawneh, now at the University of Jordan, led the study.

Football is one of the leading causes of concussions in student athletes, but they can happen in almost any sport.
(via Flickr/mel_rowling)

Coaches, athletic directors, and school nurses from across Missouri met at Saint Louis University on Thursday for a forum on sports concussions in student athletes.

The Brain Injury Association of Missouri sponsored the conference, which drew about 200 participants.

A New York federal court today dismissed a lawsuit against agribusiness giant Monsanto brought by thousands of certified organic farmers. The farmers hoped the suit would protect them against infringing on the company's crop patents in the future.

The Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association and several other growers and organizations do not use Monsanto seeds. But they were betting that the judge would agree that Monsanto should not be allowed to sue them if pollen from the company's patented crops happened to drift into their fields.

Cheers! Fruit flies drink to their health, literally

Feb 21, 2012

As humans, we sometimes pay a price for drinking alcohol — in hangovers, or worse. But if you happen to be a young fruit fly, it turns out that alcohol can be just what the doctor ordered.

The pesky little fruit flies often show up when apples or bananas are left sitting around for too long on the kitchen counter. Most folks find them annoying, but Todd Schlenke can't get enough of them.

(USGS website)

The U.S. Geological Survey is reporting that, in addition to the 4.0 magnitude earthquake centered near East Prairie, Mo. early this morning, a second, smaller earthquake originated today near the same location in the New Madrid Seismic Zone

The second earthquake happened around 11:05 a.m.

(via Flickr/breahn)

A Missouri trial judge has struck down a state fund designed to offer state incentives to science or technology companies.

During a special legislative session last fall, lawmakers approved the Missouri Science and Innovation Reinvestment Act, also often referred to as MOSIRA. The measure contained a clause that the law would not take effect without the passage of a separate measure, which was not approved.

Those challenging the science fund included the Missouri Roundtable for Life and Missouri Right to Life.

(Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio)

The Environmental Protection Agency will hold another community meeting on Tuesday evening, to talk about the cleanup of the former Carter Carburetor plant in north St. Louis.

This is the third community meeting the EPA has held to discuss the cleanup.

(Photo: Jason Wolff/UNC)

New research shows that differences in the brain development of autistic children are already visible in infants as young as 6 months old.

Researchers at four study sites nationwide used a type of MRI scan to look at brain development in the younger siblings of autistic children, who are known to be at higher risk for autism themselves.

Ninety-two children were scanned at 6, 12, and 24 months of age, while the children were sleeping.

(Environment Missouri)

A new report from Environment Missouri presents data on U.S. federally-declared weather disasters from 2006 to 2011, and says climate change will make extreme weather events like droughts and storms more common – and more severe.

State advocate for Environment Missouri, Ted Mathys, says 2011 was a particularly bad year for extreme weather in Missouri and across the country.

(Image courtesy of NIAID)

There is growing evidence that taking antibiotics does not help cure most sinus infections.

A new study out of Washington University compared sinus patients who were given the antibiotic amoxicillin to others who were given a placebo.

(via Flickr/orangeacid)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has given St. Louis-based Mobius Therapeutics LLC the go-ahead to start production of a drug for use in eye surgery.

Mobius plans to have other St. Louis-area companies make and distribute the new drug, called Mitosol, which is FDA-approved for use in surgeries to treat glaucoma. Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States.

(USGS)

The Great Central U.S. ShakeOut is an annual event intended to raise awareness about what to do in the event of a major earthquake.

Steve Besemer of the Missouri Emergency Management Agency says in Missouri and Illinois, more than 900,000 people, most of them students, participated in today's drill.

He says if an earthquake hits, there are three simple steps people should follow.

The U.S. Forest Service has released a final environmental impact statement for its new management plan for the nation's public forests.

The new Forest Planning Rule will guide the management of America's 193-million acres of national forest lands, and provide the framework for local forest managers to develop their own forest-specific management plans.

(via flickr/benclark)

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released a new tool that allows the public to access information about pollutants that are released into local waterways.

The Discharge Monitoring Report Pollutant Loading Tool brings together millions of records and lets users search for and map water pollution.

(via Flickr/Alternative Heat)

The National Science Foundation has awarded a local researcher $1.3 million to study the genetics of how corn plants take up nutrients.

The ultimate goal is to reduce the amount of fertilizer needed to grow the ubiquitous crop.

Ivan Baxter, a U.S. Department of Agriculture research scientist and assistant member at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, will lead the research.

Pills prescription drugs pharmaceuticals
ep_jhu | Flickr

Last year's fight between Walgreens and Express Scripts over prescription drug prices overshadowed the much bigger issue of whether health reforms have eased drug costs for many seniors, as well as whether state lawmakers should set up a health insurance exchange.

National Institutes of Health

For years doctors have prescribed acid blockers to children with no symptoms of acid reflux to try to help control their asthma.

But a new study shows the anti-reflux medicine isn't helping.

The research followed more than 300 children between the ages of 6 and 17. In addition to an inhaled steroid, about half the children were given an acid blocker for six months, and half a placebo. None of the children had symptoms of acid reflux.

Pages