Health, Science, Environment

Health, science, and environmental news

An international panel of scientists reported this week that glyphosate, the main ingredient used in Monsanto's weed killer Roundup is unlikely to cause cancer in humans.

A worker does maintenance on a wastewater pump at the Bridgeton Landfill on Aug. 28.
Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

Officials from the Environmental Protection Agency did not attend a public meeting to share updates on the West Lake Landfill in Bridgeton late Monday after someone made threatening comments in a Facebook group for local advocates.

Robert C. Strunk, MD, (right) discusses results of a decades-long pediatric asthma study that involved Janae Smith, (middle) a patient and study participant, and Denise Rodgers, (left) who retired this year as a clinical research coordinator.
Washington University in St. Louis

Children who live with persistent asthma in childhood are at a higher risk of developing lung problems later in life, according to new findings from a national asthma study that began in the 1990s. A small number of patients even exhibited symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, in early adulthood.

A view of the Earth from the International Space Station
A Beautiful Planet | IMAX

The idiom “you can’t see the forest for the trees,” takes on a more grandiose meaning in the new Omnimax film, “A Beautiful Planet,” opening today at the Saint Louis Science Center.

The film takes viewers to the International Space Station, with cameras operated by astronauts themselves, to see what Earth looks like from outer space.

Researchers have produced insulin-secreting cells from stem cells derived from the skin of patients with type 1 diabetes. The cells (blue), made from stem cells, can secrete insulin (green) in response to glucose.
Credit: Millman Laboratory

After a meal, your blood sugar tends to rise. When it does, there are cells in your pancreas called beta cells that react by releasing insulin, which controls blood sugar.

People who have Type 1 diabetes have damaged beta cells and can't produce insulin. To manage the disease, they either have to inject insulin or wear a pump all day.

But new stem cell research at Washington University could lead to a breakthrough that helps their bodies produce the insulin they need.

Lori Fiegel, Mary Rocchi and Geneva Powell shed some light on the state of seniors in the St. Louis region.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

By 2045, one in four people in the St. Louis metro area will be older than 65. That means there will be more than 290,000 people in that age group — a 75 percent increase, compared to today.

Sam Johnson, left, assists a visitor at the food pantry he manages for St. Elizabeth, Mother of John the Baptist Church, in north St. Louis.
File photo | Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

When Sam Johnson helps people fill grocery carts at the food pantry he manages now, he notices that the items have been picked over more than usual.

“Normally we have meat. Chicken, we might have fish. But we ran out of meat that you can cook,” Johnson said.

Instead, a fold-out table offers a selection of canned chicken, SPAM and tuna in the basement on the grounds of the St. Elizabeth, Mother of John the Baptist Church, in north St. Louis.

In the past few years that Johnson has managed the pantry as a volunteer, he’s seen demand rise during the holidays and again in the summer. Now, he’s starting to see another group of newcomers: visitors who recently lost their public assistance benefits in the state’s latest round of cuts.

John Burroughs seniors Garrett Moore and Hunter Wilkins plant milkweed at Bellerive Park on Wednesday, May 4, 2016.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Mayor Francis Slay’s initiative to plant Monarch butterfly gardens throughout the city has a new addition in south St. Louis funded by a company that sells herbicides.

The 1,500-square-foot milkweed patch in south St. Louis is the first in a series of butterfly gardens planned along the Mississippi River.

Adrian Clark | Flickr

Legislators are scheduled to meet Thursday to consider a bill that would give Missouri’s regulating agency for insurers the chance to review health insurance rates before they affect consumers who use Healthcare.gov —and allow them to object if prices are about to jump too high.  

Another defeat for Johnson & Johnson in talc-ovarian cancer case

May 3, 2016

Johnson & Johnson suffered a second straight legal defeat in defense of its signature talc products on Monday when it was ordered to pay $55 million in damages to a woman who blamed her ovarian cancer on the use of Johnson’s Baby Powder for feminine hygiene.

Train tracks cross Jack Harvey's farm near Marshall. Because a railway, road, stream and wetland area will be crossed on his property, much of Flanagan South will be installed with a directional drilling method rather than trenching.
Tina Casagrand | for the Beacon

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Lisa Williams was stunned by a 4 o’clock phone call on July 26, 2010: Oil spill on an Enbridge line. Come quick. Williams, a contaminant specialist for Michigan’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, traveled to the incident command post two hours later. Noxious fumes hit her crossing the Kalamazoo River, two miles upstream from the spill.

Map of the West Lake Landfill
Provided by the EPA

The owner of the Bridgeton Landfill is now on a deadline to install several components of a system that will separate radioactive waste from an underground smoldering fire.  

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 7 issued an Administrative Settlement Agreement Thursday that names deadlines for a heat extraction system, air monitors and temperature probes.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Freiweni Mebrahtu was 13 when she first got her period. Growing up in Ethiopia, it was something her four older sisters never, ever brought up. When she went to school and asked her friends, they all vehemently denied that menstruation existed.

Her experience is not singular.

Project manager Miton Clayborn leads an orientation session at SLATE's offices in downtown St. Louis. Participant Sequoi Edwards sits on the right. Edwards hopes the training will help him run a youth-centered nonprofit.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

At an orientation for a new apprenticeship program to train child care workers in St. Louis, Serroge Watt signed up with his 2-year-old daughter, Korra, in mind.

A cautionary sign at a fence around the West Lake Landfill Superfund site, which contains World War II-era nuclear waste.
Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

A lawsuit between Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster and the operator of the Bridgeton and West Lake landfills has been sent back to St. Louis County’s Circuit Court by a federal judge.

Express Scripts headquarters
Express Scripts

A large St. Louis-area employer is preparing for a leadership change as it battles one of its biggest clients in court. Pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts is being sued by Anthem. The health insurance company claims it should have a bigger piece of the savings Express Scripts negotiates with drug makers.

In the study he led, Washington University researcher Darrell Hudson found the men in his focus groups were more than willing to discuss their experiences with racism and issues related to mental health.
Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

New insight from a Washington University study could improve access to mental health care for African-American men. 

Schlafly had a steady stream of customers at the Earth Day festival, where they serve a limited-time offering of an organic IPA.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis’s annual Earth Day festival attracted vendors of all stripes and sizes on Sunday, with a few offering sustainable options that go beyond the beaten path.

(via U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)

Every April 22nd, Earth Day encourages people to consider what’s best for the environment. Started in 1970 by a U.S. senator from Wisconsin, Earth Day has evolved in its consideration of how to combat the troubling effects of climate change.

Climate change is just one of the many factors that affects the sustainability and economic viability of the Mississippi River.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

In our weekly "Behind the Headlines" segment, St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh discussed the top news stories that caught St. Louisans’ attention this week, with the people who produced them and contributed to them.

This week, we discussed homelessness in St. Louis, the state budget's advancement and new Missouri learning standards.

Joining us:

Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center

Scientists say frogs are one of the first "canaries in the coal mine" for climate change. That’s because they absorb a lot of what’s in the environment through their skin.

No organizations St. Louis Public Radio spoke with said they have heard many cases of men who would be eligible to donate under the new FDA recommendations being turned away.
LCpl Austin Schlosser | US Army

April is organ donation month and two guests joined St. Louis on the Air to discuss new advances in the field of organ donation research.

Nationwide, there are hundreds of thousands on various waiting lists for organ transplants. In the St. Louis area, there 200-250 patients waiting for a liver transplant and 1,300 patients waiting for a kidney transplant.

The guests also discussed the importance of organ donation, signing up to donate while living and also after death. Here’s who joined us for the discussion:

Phil Perino, who lives near the West Lake Landfill, listened in on a public meeting with the EPA on Monday evening.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Capping the radioactive contamination buried in the West Lake Landfill instead of moving the dirt offsite is one alternative the Environmental Protection Agency will consider this year as it determines a permanent solution for the site. But for residents in the crowd at a public meeting, it felt like a cruel round of deja vu. 

Tanjila Bolden-Myers, 38, stands in the hallway of Beaumont High School in St. Louis. She works as a behavioral health specialist, and was diagnosed with sickle cell disease as an infant.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Growing up, as the searing pain of a sickle cell crisis would spread through her veins, Tanjila Bolden-Myers would ask her mother if this time, it would kill her.  

“I ask her now to this day, ‘Mom, how did you look me in my face and not break? Every time I asked you that?’” said Bolden-Myers, now 38. “And she was like, ‘No, baby, you’re not going to die this time. You’re not going to die.’”

According to the new study, a woman's weight before her first pregnancy may have long-term effects.
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases | National Institutes of Health

The economy needs babies, but working women are often told that having kids will hurt their careers. So, researchers from Washington University in St. Louis have crunched the numbers: Ladies, at least when it comes to finances, waiting until you’re 31 might make a difference.

Cardinal Ritter Senior Services’ Foster Grandparents program connects seniors with low-income children with special needs.
Cardinal Ritter Senior Services

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, Aarya Locker, the director of Cardinal Ritter Senior Services’ Foster Grandparents program joined host Don Marsh to discuss how seniors can serve as foster grandparents/mentors to low income children with special needs.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Michael and Tara Gallina are the proprietors of Rooster and the Hen, a culinary concept — they say — that seeks to delight eaters through thoughtfulness; for the way our food is grown and raised, to the care and warmth in which it's served.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Nurses for Newborns is a local organization that seeks to improve the outcome of infants in at-risk families. Since the organization was founded over 20 years ago, the nurses have helped more than 100,000 families raise healthy babies. At any given moment, the nurses are helping more than 1,000 babies younger than age 2 and their families.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

The term “palliative care” has been bandied about quite a bit as of late. But what does it mean? On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, three people joined host Don Marsh to discuss what palliative care means and how it differs from hospice care.

Joining the program to discuss palliative care:

Mike Morrison talks with two staff members at Bridgeway's detox center in St. Louis.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

A proposed federal policy intended to improve access to opioid addiction treatment may not have much of an impact in St. Louis.

The rule change would allow doctors to prescribe a medication that reduces withdrawal and cravings to twice as many patients.

But two of the largest treatment providers in St. Louis say their doctors aren’t in danger of exceeding the current 100 patient-limit for buprenorphine, a drug often trademarked as Suboxone.

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