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Health, Science, Environment

Health, science, and environmental news

Missouri Department of Conservation

The Ballwin Police Department is urging residents to be cautious after a black bear was spotted Sunday in a St. Louis County neighborhood.

According to a post on Facebook by the police department, a resident saw a large bear running between the Castle Pines Subdivision and Oak Run Lane.

Sarah Fentem | St. Louis Public Radio

A visitor to the new wing of the Mercy hospital in Festus can likely tell immediately where the old building ends and the new part begins. The atrium still smells of fresh paint, and instead of dark, winding hallways, windows let in natural light.

Builders designed it to be prettier and more user-friendly. But Mercy Hospital Jefferson is safer, too.

Eileen Graessle, right, photographs a honeybee on a milkweed flower at the BeeBlitz in Forest Park on June 16, 2018.
Shahla Farzan | St. Louis Public Radio

Eileen Graessle leaned in close to a patch of milkweed, as she tried to capture a photo of a honeybee in motion.

It was a difficult task, but one that Graessle relished as a volunteer for the BeeBlitz citizen science project on Saturday in Forest Park. The annual event aims to help researchers determine which species are present in the city and how their populations are changing.

“It helps to study the way that they move,” said Graessle, an amateur beekeeper who lives in Ballwin. “I also take multiple shots and then usually some of those come out exciting and defined.”

Pixabay

The rare Bourbon virus could be in the St. Louis region, state health officials say.

A patient with symptoms matching the virus was bitten by a tick recently in the southwest part of St. Louis County, but has recovered.

The announcement from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services indicates the sometimes-deadly virus could be spreading through the state, experts said.

Plant scientist Thomas Brutnell
Brutnell Lab

This story was updated at 3:10 p.m. — The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center has dismissed one of its researchers on suspicion of sexual misconduct.

The Danforth Center “has ended its relationship” with Thomas Brutnell, according to a statement released today from the Danforth Center’s President Jim Carrington. Brutnell's biography was also removed from the center’s website.

An investigation into Brutnell’s behavior began in May “upon receiving a complaint of inappropriate conduct and comments of a sexual nature” from Brutnell. Danforth officials then placed him on leave. The statement does not elaborate on the allegations against Brutnell.

A federal judge has declined to block a Missouri regulation governing medication abortions, although she found that the restriction “has virtually no benefit.”

Ruling in a case brought by the Planned Parenthood affiliates in Kansas City and St. Louis, U.S. District Judge Beth Phillips said the plaintiffs had not shown that the regulation “is a substantial burden to a large fraction of women seeking a medication abortion.”

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Children who eat poor diets are more likely to be bullies at school, according to research from Saint Louis University.

The study, which used data from a World Health Organization survey of 150,000 children across 40 countries in Europe and North America, examined the relationship between diet and bullying behavior. Students who had poor diets or experienced frequent meal deprivation were more likely to bully their peers.

An active coal-ash pond at the Meramec Energy Center in St. Louis County in February 2018.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

Just before former Gov. Eric Greitens resigned, he signed a bill to regulate coal-ash waste, a toxic byproduct of coal-fired power plants.

Coal ash, also known as coal combustion residuals, contains a number of heavy metals, including lead and arsenic, that are known to cause cancer. While some of the waste does become recycled, Ameren Missouri and other utilities dispose coal ash into landfills and ponds.

Kate Thornton | U.S. Air Force

A new Missouri law orders the state to create guidelines for testing, processing and storing rape kits, which collect DNA evidence from victims of sexual violence.

After a person is sexually assaulted, investigators can submit DNA evidence in the form of a sexual-assault kit, which police run through a database to help find the perpetrator.

The law requires health providers to give that evidence to police within 14 days. Law enforcement must submit evidence to crime labs 14 days after that.

Stephanie Schuermann, center, sets up a future appointment at the People’s Health Centers mobile clinic at the Forest Park-Debaliviere metro stop.  June 5, 2018
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A mobile health unit will be making weekly stops at select Metro Transit stations to provide screenings, insurance help and other health care needs.

The People’s Health Centers, a community health clinic, operates the van, which made its first stop on Tuesday. It’s scheduled to rotate between Grand, Forest Park-Debaliviere, Civic Center and Riverview Transit stations. The city health department and Metro Transit will provide assistance to help operate and staff it.

Ryan Dowis (at left) and Melanie Scheetz joined Tuesday’s “St. Louis on the Air” to discuss current challenges facing the region’s most vulnerable youth and those who care for them.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

For the first time in two decades, a growing number of children in St. Louis and Missouri are in foster care, and the opioid epidemic is a driving factor.

“[The number of children in foster care] had really been declining for many years, and especially in the St. Louis region but all across Missouri we saw fewer and fewer children in the system,” Melanie Scheetz, executive director of the St. Louis-based Foster & Adoptive Care Coalition, said Tuesday on St. Louis on the Air. “Obviously that’s our goal – not to have children in the foster-care system. But unfortunately, when we have parents with substance-abuse issues, especially opioids, we see more kids coming into care.”

DeVonte Jones began to show signs of schizophrenia as a teenager. His first public episode was nine years ago at a ball game at Wavering Park in Quincy, Illinois.

“He snapped out and just went around and started kicking people,” said Jones’ mother Linda Colon, who now lives in Midlothian in the Chicago suburbs.


Ameren's Callaway nuclear power plant produces about 19 percent of the electricity the company generates in Missouri. It is the only nuclear energy facility in the state.
File photo | Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

Ameren Missouri has proposed expanding its energy-efficiency programs to ease the company’s impact on the environment.

In a proposal to the Missouri Public Service Commission on Tuesday, the utility sought approval to invest $550 million in 26 programs that would help customers save energy.

The programs would help people recycle old, inefficient appliances; educate those in low-income communities on how to lower energy use; and promote smart thermostats to reduce electricity costs during the high energy consumption that happens in the summer.

In a case that has implications for Missouri, Planned Parenthood has asked a federal court for a restraining order to block an Arkansas law that effectively bans medication abortions. 

On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up Planned Parenthood's challenge to the law, which requires abortion providers to contract with back-up physicians with hospital admitting privileges. Planned Parenthood says it has sought in vain to find such physicians

Dr. Lannis Hall, right, looks at scans before meeting with patients at a Siteman Cancer Center satellite site in St. Peters. May 31, 2018
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

For years, clinical trials were focused in academic medical centers such as the one below oncologist John DiPersio’s office at Siteman Cancer Center, high above the Washington University medical campus in the Central West End. Historically, most participants in clinical trials have been white men.

To help increase diversity in its cancer studies, Siteman bringing the science to people’s neighborhoods, with smaller centers in traditionally underserved areas, far away from the big medical campus. It most recently started clinical trials at its newest location in north St. Louis County, 12 miles north of the Central West End.

A map that indicates the location of the Old American Zinc Plant Superfund site in Fairmont City, Ill.
Mapbox, OpenStreetMap

The Environmental Protection Agency plans this month to start removing toxic waste from 50 residential yards near a Metro East Superfund site.

The Old American Zinc Plant, which discontinued operations in 1967, contaminated hundreds of properties with high levels of lead, arsenic, zinc and other heavy metals that are known to cause cancer and a variety of diseases. The site is located in Fairmont City, next to Cahokia Mounds.

Bram Sable-Smith | Side Effects Public Media

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has designated nine hospitals in St. Louis County as priority heart attack centers to ensure that the most at-risk patients receive help as fast as possible.

Over 1,100 athletes competed in the 2018 St. Louis Senior Games, which included sports ranging from water volleyball to track and field.
St. Louis Jewish Community Center

In St. Louis, you’re never too old to become an Olympic athlete.

This weekend, hundreds of people from across the region have come together to compete in the 39th annual St. Louis Senior Olympics. The event, which is open to anyone over the age of 50, includes a wide range of sports.

A food computer device developed by St. Louis startup company MARSfarm.
MARSfarm

When human exploration on Mars becomes possible, St. Louis startup MARSfarm aspires to grow crops there.

But because it will be years before humans will be able to fly to Mars, the company is focused on building technologies that help feed people on Earth. This year, the startup has developed its “$300 food computer,” a foil box that measures two feet on each side that contains plants, lights, sensors and single-board computers known as Raspberry Pi.

Researchers at Washington University are working to understand how a common mosquito-borne virus causes chronic arthritis.
USDA

Washington University researchers are one step closer to understanding how a common virus transmitted by mosquitoes causes chronic arthritis.

Like other mosquito-borne diseases, patients with chikungunya virus usually develop a fever and muscle aches. There is no known treatment for the virus, but it often clears up on its own within several weeks. For some patients, however, chikungunya causes severe arthritis that can last for months or even years.

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