Health, Science, Environment

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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EPA / Air Pollution
12:52 pm
Wed December 21, 2011

EPA announces first-ever national standards for air pollution from power plants

Ameren’s power plant in Labadie, Mo. which is ranked 2nd highest in mercury emissions nationwide, according to a Nov. 2011 report by Environment Missouri.
(Véronique LaCapra/St. Louis Public Radio)

Updated 4:39 p.m.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced the first-ever national standards for air pollution from power plants.

The rule will require Ameren and other electricity companies to reduce emissions of toxic pollutants like mercury and arsenic, which can cause developmental effects, cancer, asthma, and other serious health problems.

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Missouri River Flooding
10:31 am
Tue December 20, 2011

Panel: Corps did what it could to prevent Mo. River flooding, still changes needed

Gavins Point Dam in South Dakota releases 150,000 cubic feet per second of water June 14, 2011. Releases from the dam and others in the area were slowed to try to help with flooding of the Missouri River.
(Via Flickr/USACEPublicAffairs/Jay Woods)

Updated 4:13 p.m.

An independent panel says the US Army Corps of Engineers did what it could to prevent this year's record flooding along the Missouri River but that changes will be needed to manage increasingly frequent extreme weather events.

Hydrologist Bill Lawrence of the National Weather Service participated in the panel review and says Montana's record-breaking rainfall in May contributed to unprecedented runoff downstream.

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Health - Illinois
10:41 am
Fri December 16, 2011

Information about surgical infections at Illinois hospitals now online

The public can now compare surgical infection rates at Illinois hospitals using an interactive map.
(Illinois Department of Health)

For the first time, the Illinois Department of Health is making information about surgical infections in Illinois hospitals available to the public.

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Nanotechnology
6:30 am
Fri December 16, 2011

Talking nanotech with UMSL's George Gokel

Nanotubes hold the potential for drug delivery and as conductors that could replace even the thinnest wires.
(Image courtesy of the George Gokel Laboratory)

Nanotechnology is the science of the very small.

Nanoscientists manipulate matter at the scale of atoms and molecules – often ending up with materials that behave very differently than their macroscale counterparts.

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Solar Energy
4:50 pm
Thu December 15, 2011

Mo. solar energy companies call to extend federal renewable energy tax grant

This array of solar panels on top of a building helps power the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis.
(via Facebook/Missouri Solar Energy Industries Association)

Missouri solar energy companies are calling for Congress to extend a federal tax grant for renewable energy.

The 1603 Treasury Program lets solar, wind, and other renewable energy developers take an existing 30 percent tax credit as a cash grant, instead.

The executive director of the Missouri Solar Energy Industries Association, Heidi Schoen, says the tax grant program has driven investment in renewable energy projects nationwide.

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Earthquakes - New Madrid
4:00 pm
Thu December 15, 2011

200 years after the New Madrid earthquakes, the legends live on

Caption: This photo, taken in Blytheville, Missouri, in 1904, shows sand blows (lighter patches) resulting from the New Madrid earthquakes.
(M.L. Fuller, image 137/USGS)

Friday, Dec. 16, marks the 200th anniversary of the first of the New Madrid earthquakes, a series of large tremors centered in northeastern Arkansas and southeastern Missouri.

The earthquakes of 1811 and 1812 were so big, legend has it, they made the Mississippi River run backwards.

Seismologist Susan Hough of the U.S. Geological Survey in Pasadena, Calif., says that’s actually true – at least where the fault crosses underneath the river channel.

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Ozark Rivers - Management
6:14 pm
Tue December 13, 2011

Environmentalists urge National Park Service to protect the Current River

Ted Mathys, state advocate for Environment Missouri (at podium) and other environmentalists urged the National Park Service to protect the Current River in Missouri during a press conference at St. Louis' City Hall on Dec. 13, 2011.
(Véronique LaCapra/St. Louis Public Radio)

Updated at 6:10 pm to add Congresswoman Emerson's response.

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E. coli outbreak
4:17 pm
Wed December 7, 2011

Romaine lettuce sold at Schnucks identified as source of recent E. coli outbreak

A map from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing the number of persons who were infected with the strain of E. coli in the recent outbreak of illness in Missouri and nine other states.
(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website)

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced that romaine lettuce was the source of the E. coli outbreak that sickened a total of 60 people in ten states earlier this fall.

Thirty-seven of those infected were in Missouri.

On its website, the CDC says the lettuce came from salad bars from a single grocery store chain but did not report the name of the chain. Schnucks management has confirmed that it is the chain in question.

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