Health, Science, Environment

Health, science, and environmental news

(Courtesy of the White House Council on Environmental Quality)

Nancy Sutley is President Obama’s principal environmental advisor and the Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

She was recently in St. Louis to speak with high school students and utility regulators.

St. Louis Public Radio’s Véronique LaCapra caught up with Sutley between speaking engagements to talk about what the Obama Administration is doing to address some of the environmental issues facing our region.

Updated with full data tables at 2:09 p.m. (see below)

Rates of three sexually transmitted diseases are up in the St. Louis area, according to an annual report released today by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

(Photo Courtesy Missouri Botanical Garden)

Joining in with other recent Missouri moves to trade with Chinese entities, the Missouri Botanical Garden has announced that it has established a Missouri-China relationship of its own.

Plant diversity is the focus of the Garden's Memorandum of Understanding with three Chinese botanical institutions: Nanjing Botanical Garden, Lushan Botanical Garden and Guangxi Institute of Botany.

(Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio)

The Environmental Protection Agency is following through on its commitment to fence off the former Carter Carburetor manufacturing plant in north St. Louis.

The 10-acre property is contaminated with asbestos, PCBs, and other industrial pollutants.

(Business Journal Photo by Johnny Quirin via Saint Louis Science Center Press Release)

A former executive at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago has been named president and CEO of the Saint Louis Science Center.

The St. Louis Business Journal reports that Bert Vescolani will replace Doug King, who left almost a year ago to head the Museum of Flight in Seattle.

(via Wikimedia Commons)

The FDA has approved the first heart valve replacement procedure that does not involve open heart surgery.

Instead of opening the patient's chest, the doctor inserts the new heart valve by threading a catheter through a vein in the patient's leg. Here's a video of how that works :

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

Updated 4:35 p.m. with new information

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services says there is no confirmed link between produce from Schnucks grocery stores and the current E. coli outbreak in Missouri.

In a written statement, the state health department said that only 17 of the 26 people sickened reported having eaten anything from a Schnucks salad bar. The other nine did not.

On Wednesday, St. Louis will get a progress report on local participation in the National Children’s Study.

The study – which is currently in a pilot phase – will examine how environmental factors affect the health and development of more than a 100,000 children nationwide, by tracking them from before birth to age 21.

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

Updated October 28, 1:50 p.m. to update information related to St. Louis City. Updated October 28, 12:30 p.m. to add information about the U.S. CDC team.

An E. coli outbreak has sickened at least 21 people in the St. Louis area.

Confirmed cases include 16 in St. Louis County, two in St. Charles County, two in Jefferson County, and one in St. Clair County in Illinois. The Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services is investigating three suspected cases in St. Louis City. At least nine people in St. Louis County have been hospitalized.

The director of the Saint Louis County Department of Health, Dr. Delores Gunn, confirms that the toxic strain of E. coli is being spread through contaminated food, but says her department is still investigating its origin.

(University of Missouri-Saint Louis)

The University of Missouri-Saint Louis kicks off its 17th annual "What is a City?" conference on tomorrow. This year’s two-day conference is all about the relationship between cities and science.

Topics range from how to develop science-based public policy to how to think about a city as an artificial life form.

Franklin County residents hold up signs to show their opposition to Ameren's landfill plans at a meeting of the county commission in 2011, just before the commission voted to change its zoning regulations to allow coal ash landfills.
Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 4:43 p.m.

The Franklin County Board of Commissioners has approved its controversial landfill zoning regulations, opening the door for Ameren to build a coal ash landfill in Labadie, Mo.

(Photo by Mark Christmas courtesy of National Geographic)

Naturalist Michael Fay spent part of his early career in St. Louis, going to graduate school at Washington University and working with the Missouri Botanical Garden’s Peter Raven.

Since then, Fay has worked for the Wildlife Conservation Society and National Geographic.

He’s probably best known for his large-scale surveys of plants and wildlife. In 1997, he set out on the MegaTransect, a survey that would take him more than 2,000 miles on foot across the forests of the Congo Basin in Central Africa.

Fay is back in St. Louis this week for some speaking engagements. St. Louis Public Radio’s Véronique LaCapra talked with him about his African journey, and what it did for international conservation efforts.

Revolutionary oil skimmer nets $1 million X Prize

Oct 19, 2011

A breakthrough in oil cleanup technology allows crews to skim spilled oil off the water's surface at a much faster rate. The new device wasn't developed by Exxon, BP or any of the major oil companies — it's the work of Elastec/American Marine, based in Illinois. And the design won the company a rich award from the X Prize Foundation.

Oil is attracted to plastic. And water is not. That, in essence, is the basis of Elastec's new skimmer.

(via Flickr/Drongowski)

A higher percentage of Missouri's workers are exposed to secondhand cigarette smoke than in any other state.

A 2007 telephone survey funded by the Missouri Foundation for Health looked at the tobacco use, health, and demographics of close to 24,000 indoor Missouri workers.  About 12 percent were exposed to secondhand smoke, compared to about 7 percent of workers nationwide.

(Michael Abbene/Saint Louis Zoo)

Cute alert!

St. Louis has a new resident - at the St. Louis Zoo's Emerson Children's Zoo.

"Nina," a miniature burro, was born Tuesday, Oct. 4 in front of staff and visitors. Her mother, "Miss Barney," came to the St. Louis Zoo this summer.

The little foal weighs 31 pounds and stands 23 inches tall. The Zoo says ancestors of the mini burro, or miniature donkey, come from the island of Sicily near the Mediterranean Sea.

(Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio)

Update: 9:45 a.m. Oct 6:

Projected schedule for the Franklin County landfill zoning regulation:

(Jill Utrup, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has listed the Ozark hellbender as a federally endangered species that cannot be harmed, killed, or bought and sold as a pet.

The Ozark hellbender is found only in the streams of the White River system in southern Missouri and northern Arkansas.

Ozark hellbender populations have dropped by 75 percent since the 1980s, with fewer than 600 remaining in the wild.

(U.S. Army Corps of Engineers St. Louis District)

The Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary is opening a new information center overlooking the Mississippi River in West Alton.

Riverlands program manager Charlie Deutsch of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the 3,700-acre sanctuary attracts tens of thousands of migratory birds every year.

(via Flickr/News21-usa)

Missouri health officials say the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed two more illnesses in Missouri that are linked to tainted cantaloupe.

The state Department of Health and Senior Services said Thursday that Missouri now has had three cases of listeria that are tied to contaminated fruit grown on a farm in Colorado.

(Terry Suhre, director, UMSL Gallery 210)

There’s an unusual art exhibition going on right now on the campus of the University of Missouri–St. Louis.

The exhibition showcases three artists from the St. Louis region whose work blurs the lines between art and science.

St. Louis Public Radio’s Véronique LaCapra talked with the artists and the show’s curator, and produced this sound portrait of the exhibition.