Health, Science, Environment

Food & Agriculture
6:35 am
Tue January 24, 2012

Analyzing what we eat: a conversation with author and food activist Michael Pollan

Author and self described "food advocate" Michael Pollan.
(Ken Light)

Michael Pollan thinks of himself as a writer, professor…and eater.  But many people would call him a food activist. The author of controversial books like The Ominvore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food, Pollan is known for his vivid critiques of industrial agriculture and the modern American diet.

Pollan is in St. Louis today for the St. Louis Speakers Series presented by Maryville University. He recently spoke with St. Louis Public Radio’s Véronique LaCapra about his views on food and agriculture – starting with what he sees as a healthy diet.

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Ameren Missouri
5:08 pm
Fri January 20, 2012

Ameren Missouri plans to boost energy efficiency

(via Flickr/lobo235)

Updated 5:42 p.m. with comment from Ameren.

Ameren Missouri is pledging to increase its energy efficiency programs starting in 2013.

The company's filing today with the Public Service Commission would represent a complete change of course for Ameren, which had cut its energy efficiency programs from $33 million in 2011 down to as low as $5 million this year.

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Health - smoking
4:01 am
Thu January 19, 2012

American Lung Association: Missouri's smoking policies fail to protect

(Via Flickr/meddygarnet)

A new report by the American Lung Association puts Missouri near the bottom of the list when it comes to state tobacco control policies.

The report grades states according to their spending on tobacco prevention and control programs, smoke-free air laws, cigarette taxes, and coverage of programs to help smokers quit.

Missouri was one of six states to receive an “F” grade in all four categories.

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Climate change - greenhouse gases
2:29 pm
Wed January 11, 2012

Power plants top the list of greenhouse gas emitters in St. Louis region, nationwide

A map showing the numbers and locations of Missouri greenhouse gas emitters included in the new EPA data set. You can interact with the map and find more specific data by location and facility via the link in the story below.
(EPA.gov)

Power plants are the largest emitters of greenhouse gases in the U.S., followed by petroleum refineries.

That's according to data released today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The data set shows 2010 emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gases from more than 6,700 of the largest sources in the U.S., including large industrial facilities and suppliers of certain fossil fuels and industrial gases.

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Energy / Claire McCaskill
6:09 pm
Mon January 9, 2012

McCaskill visits St. Louis, Wash. U. on state-wide energy tour

Senator Claire McCaskill (at right) takes a look at an ultrafast laser system with Christine Kirmaier, PhD, (at left) research professor of chemistry, at Washington University in St. Louis' Ultrafast Laser Facility.
(Joe Angeles/WUSTL)

U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill was in St. Louis Monday as part of her state-wide energy tour.

The Democratic senator participated in a roundtable discussion at Washington University about the nation's energy future. At the table were some of Missouri's energy industry leaders, along with university administrators and researchers.

McCaskill says their feedback reinforced for her the need to keep all energy options on the table.

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Prostate cancer screening
5:05 pm
Fri January 6, 2012

Annual prostate cancer screening not needed for most men, but some can still benefit

Diagram showing the anatomy of the prostate, a gland of the male reproductive system that produces fluid for semen.
(National Cancer Institute)

There's more evidence that most men don’t need an annual prostate cancer screening.

Washington University chief urologist Dr. Gerald Andriole has been leading a clinical trial involving more than 75,000 men over the age of 55.

The study has tracked the men for over a decade, to see whether getting an annual prostate-specific antigen, or PSA test, makes someone less likely to die from prostate cancer.

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Toxic Pollution Releases / Illinois
11:56 am
Fri January 6, 2012

Toxic releases by industries rise in Ill., Mo. in 2010

(via Flickr/mskogly)

Out today is the Environmental Protection Agency's latest Toxics Release Inventory, which allows the public to know what toxic chemicals are released into their communities. Information is released two years in arrears.

You can drill down in the data to your specific area here, but, in general, here are some of the findings for the states in our region, Illinois and Missouri:

Illinois:

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Ozark glade restoration
4:38 pm
Wed January 4, 2012

Ozark glade restoration project heats up at Tyson

A flyover photo of experimental glades at Washington University's Tyson Research Center.
(Jon Wingo/DJM Ecological Services)

Researchers are conducting controlled burns this week at Washington University’s Tyson Research Center southwest of St. Louis.

The burns are part of a project to study how to restore Ozark glades – rocky forest clearings with native species that resemble those of the desert southwest.

Washington University ecologist and project lead Tiffany Knight says fire is a natural part of glade ecosystems.

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Elk restoration audit
5:15 pm
Wed December 28, 2011

Elk restoration plan comes under fire from state auditor

State auditor Tom Schweich has faulted the budgeting of a Mo. Dept. of Conservation project to restore elk in the state.
(Missouri Dept. of Conservation)

A controversial Missouri Department of Conservation plan to reintroduce elk into southeastern Missouri is under fire from Republican state auditor Tom Schweich.

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Possible infant formula-related illness
12:09 pm
Fri December 23, 2011

FDA, CDC say bacterial infections not linked to infant formula

(via Flickr/brokinhrt2)

Updated to reflect new information released by the FDA and CDC on Friday, Dec. 30.

A joint statement released Friday by the  Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says their investigation has found no evidence linking four recent cases of Cronobacter infection in infants to Enfamil or any other infant formula.

According to the statement, there is no evidence that four recent cases of Cronobacter infection in infants in four states - Missouri, Illinois, Florida, and Oklahoma - are related. The infants in Missouri and Florida died as a result of their infection, while the infants in Illinois and Oklahoma have survived.

The statement says there is no need for a recall of infant formula and that parents may continue to use powdered infant formula following the manufacturer’s directions on the printed label.

The ongoing investigation includes laboratory testing of various types of infant formula, the water used in preparing the formula, and when available, clinical samples from the infants.

More from Friday's FDA-CDC statement:

"The ongoing investigation includes laboratory testing of various types and brands of powdered infant formula, nursery water and, when available, clinical samples from the infants. The investigation also includes the inspection of manufacturing facilities for infant formula and nursery water.

The following results have been confirmed from completed laboratory tests, although additional lab results are pending release:

  • CDC’s laboratory conducted DNA fingerprinting of the bacteria from two recent cases of Cronobacter infection in infants (Missouri and Illinois). The results show that the Cronobacter bacteria differ genetically, suggesting that they are not related. (Bacteria from cases in Oklahoma and Florida are not available for analysis.) 
  • CDC laboratory tests of samples provided by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services found Cronobacter bacteria in an opened container of infant formula, an opened bottle of nursery water and prepared infant formula.  It is unclear how the contamination occurred.
  • The FDA tested factory sealed containers of powdered infant formula and nursery water with the same lot numbers as the opened containers collected from Missouri and no Cronobacter bacteria were found."

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