Health, Science, Environment

from St. Louis on the Air
8:48 am
Thu February 10, 2011

200 years later, what's shaking in the New Madrid Seismic Zone?

a portion of Geologic Investigations Map I-2812 (US Geological Survey) / Wheeler R.L.

Tomorrow marks the St. Louis kickoff of the bicentennial events commemorating the earthquakes that struck the New Madrid Seismic Zone in 1811-12.  You’ve probably heard stories about those quakes: that church bells rang in Boston, that the Mississippi River ran backwards. Much of that, it turns out, is legend.  So what do we know about the New Madrid fault and the risk it poses to the modern Midwest?

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Monsanto Sugar Beets
4:38 pm
Fri February 4, 2011

Monsanto Roundup Ready beets given approval for spring planting

Fields of sugar beets, Monsanto's Roundup Ready brand to be exact, are now eligible to be planted this spring. (via Flickr/Dag Endresen)

Farmers will be able to plant Monsanto's Roundup Ready sugar beets this spring.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced today that planting could continue while the Agency completes an Environmental Impact Statement.

The beets have been genetically-engineered to tolerate Monsanto's Roundup herbicide.

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Climate Change
5:12 am
Fri February 4, 2011

National Academy of Sciences president: people are contributing to climate change

President of the National Academy of Sciences Ralph Cicerone says rising sea levels—and the loss of ice from polar regions—are at least partially caused by human activities. (Karen de Seve)

There is strong evidence that human-produced greenhouse gases—like carbon dioxide and methane—are changing the Earth’s climate.

So says the President of the National Academy of Sciences, Ralph Cicerone.

He spoke about the science of climate change at the Saint Louis Science Center this week.

And Cicerone told St. Louis Public Radio’s Véronique LaCapra that although the climate has changed in the past, this time is different.

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Carter Carburetor Superfund Site
4:41 pm
Fri January 28, 2011

Coalition asking EPA for more time to evaluate cleanup options for Carter Carburetor Superfund Site



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The above map depicts Herbert Hoover Boys and Girls Club (right), across the street from the Carter Carburetor Superfund Site, a former gasoline and diesel carburetor manufacturing plant which closed in 1984.

A coalition of St. Louis City residents is asking the Environmental Protection Agency for more time to evaluate cleanup options for the Carter Carburetor Superfund Site on the city's north side.

The former gasoline and diesel carburetor manufacturing plant once owned by ACF Industries has dangerous levels of several toxic contaminants, including PCBs and asbestos.

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Biotech Agriculture
6:16 pm
Thu January 27, 2011

USDA gives full approval to Monsanto's genetically-modified alfalfa

Alfalfa fields in Idaho. (Flickr Creative Commons user Sam Beebe/Ecotrust)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Thursday that it has decided to allow unrestricted commercial planting of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready alfalfa.

The alfalfa has been genetically-engineered to tolerate the herbicide glyphosate, known commercially as Roundup.

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Space/NASA
5:11 pm
Thu January 27, 2011

Space Shuttle Challenger remembered on 25th anniversary of tragedy

On January 28, 1986, the Space Shuttle Challenger and her seven-member crew were lost when a ruptured O-ring in the right Solid Rocket Booster caused the shuttle to break apart 73 seconds after launch. (NASA)

Twenty-five years ago, the Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart shortly after liftoff, killing all seven crew members on board.

Here in St. Louis, the Challenger Learning Center is offering a variety of programs honoring the Challenger crew and their families.

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Genetics
12:33 pm
Wed January 26, 2011

Researchers sequence genome of endangered orangutans

In the Malay language, oran-utan means "man of the forest." (Perry van Duijnhoven/Carel van Schaik)

An international team of researchers has sequenced the genomes of two species of orangutan.

Lead researcher Devin Locke of the Genome Center at Washington University said a primary motivation for studying the genes of orangutans is their close evolutionary relationship to humans.

“The lessons you learn from studying these species can be applied to understanding of our own evolution and the evolution of the human population as well,” Locke said.

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St. Louis Zoo
10:54 am
Tue January 25, 2011

Endangered black rhino calf born at St. Louis Zoo

The new baby black rhino calf at the St. Louis Zoo with its mother (St. Louis Zoo)

There's a new arrival to the world, and St. Louis.

A black rhinoceros calf was born at the St. Louis Zoo on Jan. 14. The "little" male weighs in at 120.5 pounds.

According to a press release,  the Saint Louis Zoo’s black rhinos are part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Black Rhino Species Survival Plan (SSP), a program to manage a genetically healthy population of black rhinos in North American zoos. Currently there are 60 black rhinos in 38 institutions.

The release also shares that this is the first black rhino calf to be born at the Zoo in 20 years.

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Ameren Missouri Sued
2:57 pm
Wed January 12, 2011

U.S. sues Ameren Missouri over Festus power plant

The location of the Ameren Rush Island power plant in Festus, Mo. Emissions violations at the plant are the topic of a lawsuit against Ameren Missouri filed today by the U.S. Department of Justice in St. Louis, Mo. (Google Maps)

Ameren Missouri and the U.S. Department of Justice are at odds over environmental concerns.

The federal government filed a lawsuit today against the energy company for violations of the Clean Air Act.

The suit alleges that Ameren made multi-million-dollar modifications to its coal-fired power plant in Festus (map image above), without installing required pollution controls and obtaining the necessary permits.

The government wants Ameren to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions, to address any harm caused by the violations, and to pay civil penalties.

Ameren spokesperson Susan Gallagher says the company did nothing wrong.

"We believe that the position that the EPA is taking will impose significant costs on Ameren customers, especially in tough economic times."

Gallagher says the modifications at the Festus plant consisted of routine maintenance projects allowed under the Clean Air Act.

Haiti Earthquake Anniversary
11:05 pm
Tue January 11, 2011

Health and Nutrition in Haiti: One year after the quake

Lora Iannotti studies public health and nutrition in Haiti, including that of children. (C. VanArtsdalen)

Wednesday marks the one-year anniversary of the Haitian earthquake.

The magnitude 7.0 tremor was the worst to hit the region in more than two centuries, killing over 200,000 people.

Today, more than a million Haitians are still living in tents and improvised shelters, without access to clean water and sanitation facilities.

Washington University professor Lora Iannotti was in Haiti on the day the earthquake struck. She has returned several times since then to continue her research in nutrition and public health.

Before going back to Haiti again last week, Iannotti spoke with St. Louis Public Radio’s Véronique LaCapra about health conditions in this struggling Caribbean nation.

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