Health, Science, Environment

Health, science, and environmental news

(Diana Fredlund/US Army Corps of Engineers)

A new report calls flood management on the Missouri River “outdated” and says it’s putting the public at risk.

The report by the environmental advocacy group American Rivers identifies the Missouri River as one of the ten most endangered in the country.

Ed Spevak / Saint Louis Zoo

The Missouri Department of Agriculture is launching a new initiative to try to create some buzz about bees.

Agriculture Director Jon Hagler says “The Great Missouri Buzz Off” aims to educate Missourians about bees and beekeeping.

“Whether it be honeybees, or native bees, they’re so vital to our agriculture’s success, and to our horticulture’s success, and we have such amazing resources here in our state,” Hagler said.

(Missouri Department of Natural Resources)

Warming temperatures may have you wanting to spend more time outdoors. But warm weather can mean more unhealthy air.

Susannah Fuchs of the American Lung Association says our region’s sunny, hot, nearly windless summer weather creates the perfect conditions for the formation of ozone – the main component of smog.

(via Ameren Missouri website)

Last week, we reported that Ameren was conducting limited groundwater testing near its coal-fired power plant in Labadie.

The results of that testing are now posted in a report on the company’s website. According to that report, levels of boron, arsenic, and other contaminants from three sampling wells were all below regulatory health limits.

For patients with heart failure, but normal heart rhythm, aspirin may be just as good as a heavy duty blood-thinner.

That’s the finding of a new study published online today in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Washington University chief of cardiology Douglas Mann was on the study’s steering committee.

(Véronique LaCapra/St. Louis Public Radio)

The US Army Corps of Engineers has given the green light to start levee upgrades in the Metro East.

The Southwestern Illinois Flood Prevention District Council will start the first phase of levee construction next month.

The project supervisor for the council, Les Sterman, says the goal is to get the levees to a 100-year flood protection level by the end of 2014.

That would meet the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s accreditation standard.

(Véronique LaCapra/St. Louis Public Radio)

Biologist Edward O. Wilson is an emeritus University Research Professor at Harvard. Through his lifelong research on the behavior of ants, he has transformed the disciplines of ecology and evolution, developing new theories and pioneering the field of sociobiology.

Wilson, who is 82, was in St. Louis this week to deliver the keynote address at a University of Missouri-St. Louis interdisciplinary conference.

He told St. Louis Public Radio's Véronique LaCapra that his long and successful career started with a childhood fascination with bugs.

(via Flickr/jglazer75)

Illinois legislation is advancing that would regulate decades-old but debated technology used to reach previously inaccessible natural gas reserves deep underground.

The state Senate on Thursday unanimously sent to the House a bill addressing hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. That technology involves using mixtures of water, sand and chemicals to free below-ground energy reserves.

Senate Bill 3280 comes as energy companies are pushing to prospect possible drilling sites using fracking in southern Illinois.

Updated 2:15 p.m. with link to full legal document.

A St. Louis-based environmental group is asking the federal government to more closely scrutinize Ameren Corp.'s request for a 20-year license renewal at Missouri's only nuclear power plant.

(Jerry Bauer)

The University of Missouri-Saint Louis is hosting a conference on “consilience.”

UMSL evolutionary ecologist Patty Parker says consilience is the idea that certain universal concepts hold true across disciplines, from biology to the social sciences to the humanities.

(Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio)

Three Ameren shareholder proposals were voted down today at the company’s annual shareholder meeting in St. Louis.

The proposals sought to have Ameren identify and address environmental problems related to its coal-fired power plants.

Sister Barbara Jennings coordinates the Midwest Coalition for Responsible Investment, a faith-based advocacy group that seeks to influence the policies of corporations.

(via Saint Louis Zoo)

The American burying beetle is coming back – more than three decades since it was last spotted in Missouri.

The Saint Louis Zoo and the US Fish and Wildlife Service announced on Tuesday that they have gotten approval to reintroduce the beetle at the Wah'Kon-Tah Prairie in southwest Missouri. Up to 150 breeding pairs will be placed in underground with dead animals for food - the process starts in June.

(Missouri Botanical Garden)

The Missouri Botanical Garden has announced plans to help build an online database of the world’s plants.

Working with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, and the New York Botanical Garden, the Missouri Botanical Garden will compile information on as many as 400,000 land plant species, with the goal of having all the data available online by 2020.

Attorney General Chris Koster has filed a consent decree to address environmental violations at Doe Run’s Sweetwater Mine and Mill in Reynolds County.

Here's a map detailing the approximate location of the mine near Ellington, Mo.:

Ozark hellbender
Jeff Briggler | Missouri Department of Conservation | File photo

You may remember our story about the St. Louis Zoo successfully breeding an endangered giant salamander. Now the hellbender is being honored in song:

The St. Louis band FIRE DOG is offering its hellbender song as a free download on Sunday in honor of Earth Day.

In the meantime, here are the lyrics:

(via EPA.gov)

The Environmental Protection Agency is holding a public meeting tonight in East St. Louis. 

The agency will to explain its proposed plan to clean up the North Alcoa site. The property is bounded on the north by Lake Drive, on the east by the Alton and Southern railroad, on the south by Missouri Avenue and on the west by 29th Street.

EPA's remedial project manager for the 400-acre site, Dion Novak, says the area is contaminated with waste products produced over 100 years ago by a former alumina refinery.

(via EPA.gov)

The Environmental Protection Agency plans to test 256 Jefferson County residential properties amid concerns that lead in the Big River is contaminating soil.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that testing is expected to be completed by midsummer. Recent studies and samples indicated widespread lead contamination in the flood plain that extends from Leadwood in St. Francois County to the confluence with the Meramec River near Eureka.

(Art Chimes)

A second lawsuit has been filed over contamination from the Wood River Oil Refinery in Roxana, Ill.

In the suit, Roxana property owners allege that carcinogenic chemicals, including benzene, released from the refinery have contaminated their properties.

The property owners are seeking compensation for the alleged damage.

(via Wikimedia Commons)

Today is the Cardinals' home opener against the Chicago Cubs.

For St. Louis Public Radio’s Véronique LaCapra, baseball season means it’s time to talk about the science behind America’s national pastime.

And Washington University aerospace engineer David Peters was happy to join in.

(via Napoli, Bern, Ripka, Shkolnik & Associates LLP Attorneys at Law and Byron, Carlson, Petri & Kalb, LLC Attorneys at Law)

Updated at 12:15 p.m. to revise the caption of the Hazelwood/Florissant health map.

Concerned North County residents got an opportunity last night to meet with attorneys who are involved in two lawsuits relating to radioactive contamination in Coldwater Creek.

The lawsuits allege that North County residents have developed cancers and other illnesses from exposure to radioactive waste produced by the Mallinckrodt chemical company.

(Via Wikimedia Commons/Eric Erbe, digital colorization by Christopher Pooley, both of USDA, ARS, EMU)

State health officials say five people from central Missouri, including two toddlers, have contracted E. coli since late March.

The state health department said Monday it had not determined the source of the bacteria. But a Boone County health spokeswoman says three of the patients, including a 2-year-old, reported drinking raw dairy products.

The department says the 2-year-old was hospitalized and a 17-month-old developed life-threatening complications affecting the kidneys.

View Larger Map

Updated 3:54 p.m. with comment from Walker

We have an update on that steam pipe rupture that happened in downtown St. Louis Thursday morning.  The City of St. Louis Department of Health says that "while swab samples have indicated small amounts of ground level asbestos, air quality tests have come back clean."

A disease that has killed more than 5.5 million bats in the eastern United States and Canada is making its way west. White-nose syndrome has now been diagnosed in three Missouri bats — the first confirmed cases west of the Mississippi. And scientists say it won't stop there.

(University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute/Robert Wood Johnson Foundation)

St. Louis City is among the ten least healthy counties in Missouri.

That's according to nationwide county health rankings released today by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

(via Flickr/Jennifer_Boriss)

Saint Louis University is hosting a forum on Tuesday about the public health issues facing minorities, in particular African Americans.

A panel of local academics from SLU and Washington University will present their research on topics ranging from maternal health to how segregation affects health literacy.

SLU community health expert Keon Gilbert will talk about the relationship of education to health outcomes in young African American men at risk of dropping out of high school.

(Marvin Moriarity/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Updated at 3:00 p.m. to clarify and expand description of white-nose syndrome.

A disease that has killed millions of bats across the eastern U.S. has been confirmed in Missouri for the first time.

(U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

This year’s mild winter and early spring has plants flowering and putting out leaves about three weeks sooner than usual. Ticks and mosquitoes have also been spotted early.

So with all this warm weather, we can expect a particularly bad bug season, right?

Missouri Department of Conservation natural history biologist Mike Arduser says not necessarily. “I hate to use the phrase “old wives’ tale,” but…”

(UPI/Tom Uhlenbrock)

As of Monday, the National Weather Service will be issuing a new kind of tornado warning in Missouri and Kansas.

The new, more forceful and explicit messages are designed to get attention and drive people to take shelter during dangerous storms.

(via Flickr/Jack W. Reid)

March’s average temperature in St. Louis this year is almost 15 degrees above normal. If the forecast holds true tomorrow, St. Louis’s unusually high temperatures will make this the warmest March on record.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Mark Britt says the average temperature this month will be almost 61 degrees.

“The previous record of 1910 was only about 57.5 so that’s a considerable breaking of the record,” he said.  

(Frank Mbago/Missouri Botanical Garden)

Scientists at the Missouri Botanical Garden have confirmed the discovery of two tree species that were thought to be extinct.

Last year botanists from the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania set out to look for the trees. They discovered small populations of both species in a remote forest in southeastern Tanzania, along Africa’s eastern coast.

Missouri Botanical Garden botanist Roy Gereau worked with British scientist Phil Clarke to confirm the identity of the trees.

Pages