Health, Science, Environment

Health, science, and environmental news

Michelle Seeger questions Army Corps health physicist Jonathan Rankins while her sister Julie Pinkston looks on. Seeger grew up near Coldwater Creek and has Stage IV cancer.
Credit Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 6/24/15 after the Corps open house - Area residents packed into a room at the Hazelwood Civic Center last night to find out the bad news about radioactive contamination in North St. Louis County.

At the open house, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers confirmed it has found radioactive contamination at three new sites along Coldwater Creek.

They are in St. Cin Park in Hazelwood, Duchesne Park in Florissant, and a property of the St. Louis Archdiocese behind St. Ferdinand cemetery, also in Hazelwood. All the contaminated areas are subject to flooding from the creek.

St. Louis pediatrician, Dr. Alison Nash.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Sure, climate change means average temperatures are getting higher and sea levels are rising. But here are some repercussions that hit closer to home, affecting public health.

Johnnina Ray drives her daughter, 14-year-old Jakayla, home from school.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

A new state law taking effect next year will cut an estimated 3,155 Missouri families from one public benefit program, and require thousands more to participate in “work activities” to receive food assistance.

A young boy ties a piece of cloth around the "Survivor Tree" at the Maforki Ebola treatment center in Sierra Leone.
Nick Stahlschmidt

There were hardly enough supplies to care for the patients who arrived at the Maforki Ebola treatment center in Sierra Leone. Health-care workers wore layers of impermeable gear to protect themselves from the virus. Only half of the patients would survive.

“The virus was spreading so quickly in this part of Sierra Leone, in Port Loko,” said 31-year-old Nick Stahlschmidt, a physician from the St. Louis area who worked at the center in the fall of 2014. “They took a high school and converted the grounds into an Ebola treatment unit.”  

Flooded fields, an inability to plant, and the possibility of disease are all concerns Missouri farmers have due to recent rains.
Sonya Green | Flickr

Missouri's farmers are facing significant challenges as heavy rains from Tropical Storm Bill compound an already wet planting season.

Danforth Center postdoc and plant biologist Malia Gehan shows some Girl Scouts how plants absorb water.
Blaise Hart-Schmidt | Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri

More than 60 Girl Scouts have taken over the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center this week for an all-girls science camp.

This is the first year that the Danforth Center has hosted the program, which is designed to get girls from across eastern Missouri jazzed up about science.

Gerald Roy with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services speaks at a news conferenc announcing fraud charges while Stephen Wiggington, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois looks on to the right on Thursday, June 18, 2015.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Twelve people are facing federal charges in southern Illinois for allegedly defrauding a Medicaid program that provides home care for people with disabilities.

State and federal officials announced the charges Thursday in the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of Illinois as part of a coordinated national crackdown on health care fraud that brought charges against more than 240 people in 17 different federal districts.

Peter Raven at work in China
Provided by the Missouri Botanical Garden

Director Emeritus of the Missouri Botanical Garden, Peter Raven, is one of the minds behind the latest papal letter from Pope Francis. He issued the sweeping encyclical Thursday that calls for immediate societal changes to preserve the environment.  

Adult Ozark hellbenders can reach up to two feet in length, making them one of the largest salamanders in the world.
Ray Meibaum | Saint Louis Zoo

The Saint Louis Zoo is sharing its expertise in matchmaking ... for salamanders.

It's part of the 7th Hellbender Symposium, which has drawn more than 100 participants from the Midwest, the Eastern U.S., Japan and China.

Julius Montgomery
Florida Institute of Technology Office of Alumni Affairs

When most people recall monumental moments of the civil rights era, what events often come to mind? The Montgomery Bus Boycott? Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech?

What about NASA?

369 members of the nurse's union at St. Louis University Hospital participated in the vote throughout the day Monday.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 10 a.m. June 16

Members of a nurse’s union at Saint Louis University Hospital voted against de-authorizing their union late Monday, a measure that would have effectively created a “right-to-work” policy within the hospital.  

The National Nurses United affiliate has about 650 members at SLU Hospital; only 140 voted in favor of de-authorization during three scheduled voting periods throughout the day. The measure needed 326 votes to pass, which would have made the payment of union dues optional.  

AFSCME members and supporters demonstrate outside of Paraquad, calling for higher wages for home health workers. The Missouri Home Care Union is affiliated with AFSCME.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Members of the Missouri Home Care Union are asking providers of in-home services for the elderly and disabled to raise the wages of the attendants they employ. A few union members and about a hundred supporters demonstrated outside of Paraquad in St. Louis Friday to ask the nonprofit to honor a deal struck by the union and the state’s Quality Home Care Council.  

One union member, Elinor Simmons, has worked as a home health care attendant for about 30 years. She said she makes $8.50 an hour, but when she asked her employer for a raise, she was denied.

The coal ash landfill hearing got underway at 9 a.m. and lasted into the evening. Ameren employees wearing bright yellow vests attended the hearing in shifts throughout the day.
Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

The chambers of the Franklin County Commission were filled to near capacity for much of the day on Thursday for a public hearing about proposed changes to the county’s coal ash landfill regulations.

The regulations will affect a coal ash landfill that Ameren wants to build next to its power plant in Labadie.

Jean Ponzi (left) and Richard Reilly (right), managers of EarthWays Center
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

Chances are, you’ve heard the popular term “go green” at some point, indicating efforts to promote more sustainable methods of living. With campaigns to promote “going green,” some people are seeking out more ways to conserve energy ― at home ― and be a little friendlier to the Earth.

On Thursday, “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh talked with Jean Ponzi and Richard Reilly, managers of EarthWays Center, a division of the Missouri Botanical Garden about the various ways to lead more energy efficient lives.

Peter Raven (left), the President Emeritus of the Missouri Botanical Garden, and Rudi Roeslein (right), CEO of Roeslein Associates
Áine O'Connor | St. Louis Public Radio

People in urban areas may not think about the importance of prairies. But beyond the asphalt, concrete and glass of the city, is a country rich in prairie land.

But, what is the importance of prairies and how do they affect our everyday lives?

On Thursday's “St. Louis on the Air” Peter Raven, president emeritus of the Missouri Botanical Garden, and Rudi Roeslein, CEO of Roeslein Associates, joined host Don Marsh to discuss the role of prairies conserving of natural ecosystems and their importance for production of next-generation biofuels.

Members of the St. Louis Regional Heroin Initiative flank posters listing those arrested for heroin-related charges Wednesday, June 10, 2015 in the St. Charles City Police Department.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

More than 50 heroin traffickers have been arrested for crimes committed in St. Charles County. Most were arrested in a 30-hour period, bringing a swift conclusion to a ten-month collaborative investigation.

Since last fall state, local and federal authorities have been working together to bring about the arrests, representing what the head of the St. Louis region’s Drug Enforcement Agency described as a more proactive partnership than past collaborations.

Alex Heuer

If there is one word to describe Teri Griege it would be ‘resilient.’ She began running marathons in her forties after conquering an alcohol addiction and worked her way up to competing in triathlons including the Ironman.

“It’s a 2.4 mile open water swim, a 112 mile bike [ride] and then the run is a marathon, 26.2 miles,” Griege explained. Her goal was to compete in the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii.

A cluster of patient chairs in the adult dentistry unit on the second floor. Community health clinics are waiting to see if dental coverage will be extended to adults in Missouri's Medicaid program this year.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

With three floors and 92 chairs for dental appointments, the new St. Louis Education and Oral Health Clinic has the equipment to fill some of the region’s oral health needs. 

Kirksville’s A.T. Still University built the $24 million facility in the Lafayette Square neighborhood of St. Louis to train third-year students in its recently established dentistry school.

Franklin County residents show their opposition to Ameren's coal ash landfill at a county commission meeting in late 2011.
Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

In April, Franklin County considered a proposal to ease its restrictions on coal ash landfills. Even though that meeting was open to the public, county residents were not allowed to speak. This Thursday they’ll get their chance.

The all-day hearing with county’s board of commissioners is the latest installment in a six-year battle over Ameren’s plans to build a coal ash landfill next to its power plant in Labadie.

Attendees listen to a Trauma Awareness presentation at Jennings High School on June 9, 2015.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Traumatic events—such as child abuse, surviving a natural disaster or witnessing a crime—can have a long-term effect on a person’s mental health and well-being. The depth and scope of that pain is often hard for others to recognize, but two St. Louis-area agencies hope to change that.