Health, Science, Environment

Health, science, and environmental news

(via Flickr/M Glasgow)

A panel of community organizers, anti-violence experts and Washington University professors are seeking solutions to reduce the number of shooting deaths by identifying gun violence as a public health crisis.

Gun violence hits the St. Louis region in a profound way. Here are just a few of the numbers: 

This diagram is an excerpt of “figure 1” from Ameren’s “Detailed Site Investigation,” showing the location of the company’s proposed coal ash landfill.
Ameren Missouri

A set of proposed amendments to zoning restrictions in Franklin County may pave the way for Ameren to build the coal ash landfill they’ve been pushing for since 2009, despite environmental concerns from residents.  

Willow Rosen, (left) and Sarah Michelson are opening a midwifery clinic and feminist sex shop at 3350 Ohio Ave. in St. Louis.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Right now, the storefront just off of Cherokee Street is still a construction site. A pile of plaster has been recently chipped away to expose a historic brick wall. A family of squirrels lives in the air conditioning wall unit.  

But Sarah Michelson and Willow Rosen have big plans. The space will house a midwifery center, community space for parenting classes, and “Box,” a feminist sex toy shop.

Researchers Laura Jean Bierut, MD (left), and Li-Shiun Chen, MD, examine X-rays of a patient with lung cancer.
Robert Boston|Washington University in St. Louis

Can’t stop smoking? Your genes might be part of the problem.

After a case review of 24 studies involving 29,000 participants, researchers at Washington University in St. Louis determined that smokers who carried a relatively common genetic marker tend quit smoking four years later on average than those without. The genetic variation was also linked to earlier diagnoses for lung cancer. 


Missouri’s Medicaid program — MO HealthNet — failed to follow federal requirements for drug payments that could have saved the U.S. government millions, according to an audit released today. Now, a federal investigator is asking the state to refund about $35 million, the federal share of the total cost of those drugs.

Katelyn Petrin / St. Louis Public Radio

As the weather gets warmer this month, St. Louis gains two more places to enjoy springtime outdoors. St. Charles County is cutting the ribbon of a new park on Monday, while St. Louis County debuted a new park last week.

Maria Altman|St. Louis Public Radio

The uncertainty of state and federal incentives for wind and solar power may have hampered some of Missouri's growth in the renewable energy industry in recent years, but companies are pressing on. 

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

BJC HealthCare took over operations of a 25-bed, psychiatric acute-care hospital near the West End neighborhood in St. Louis on Wednesday. BJC officials said the move was necessary because the psychiatric hospital was financially unstable.

Ganymede, Jupiter's largest moon, has a large bulge at its equator.

Something strange has happened on Ganymede, this solar system’s largest moon. Orbiting Jupiter, planetary experts discovered it has a large icy bulge.

“We were basically very surprised,” said William McKinnon, a professor in Washington University's Earth and Planetary Sciences Department. “It’s like looking at old art or an old sculpture. We looked at old images of Ganymede taken by the Voyager spacecraft in the 1970s that had been completely overlooked, an enormous ice plateau, hundreds of miles across and a couple miles high.”

Express Scripts Chief Medical Officer, Steve Miller, at company headquarters in St. Louis.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

When two new drugs for hepatitis C hit the market, they were a game-changer.  

About 95 percent of hepatitis C patients can be cured with either Harvoni or Vikiera Pak, two drug regimens developed by two competing pharmaceutical companies. No longer did patients have to endure the severe side effects of older treatments, which were often taken as weekly injections.

St. Louis Health Department

The director of the St. Louis City Department of Health, Pam Walker, has announced her retirement after eight years in the position.

In that time, she has overseen health initiatives, a citywide, secondhand smoking ban, and major changes in St. Louis’ healthcare landscape — including the closure of Connect Care, a clinic that provided urgent care and specialty appointments to people without insurance.  

Ed Spevak / Saint Louis Zoo

Is it too early to plant carrots? What about tomatoes? And is there any use for those spiky sweetgum tree seeds?

Missouri Botanical Garden horticulturists June Hutson and Dana Rizzo were on-hand Monday to answer questions about spring gardening.

If you’re just getting started gardening, turn to the computer, Hutson said.

Child receiving asthma treatment.
Kristy Faith via Flickr

St. Louis area pediatricians will soon have help managing asthma care for their patients. The American Lung Association is implementing a program here to improve the system that primary care clinics use to identify and treat the disease.

Jonathan Bailey | NIH

Every day, LaDonna Haley talks to patients who can’t find a psychiatrist or counselor who takes new clients in the St. Louis area. She estimates that 10 percent of those callers live in a rural county.

File photo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis-based Monsanto lined up its experts for a conference call with reporters on Tuesday, to challenge last week’s determination by a World Health Organization committee that the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup weed killer could be dangerous to people with frequent exposure. 

soybean and corn fields in southern Illinois
File photo | Rachel Heidenry | St. Louis Beacon

A team of 17 cancer experts assembled by the World Health Organization has ruled the most commonly used herbicide a “probable carcinogen.”

St. Louis MetroMarket President Jeremy Goss, SLU Department Chair Millie Mattfeldt-Beman and HOSCO CEO Gibron Burchett are working together to implement a grant from Incarnate Word Foundation to reduce food insecurity.
Maggie Rotermund | Courtesy Saint Louis University

A retrofitted city bus full of fresh local food is slated to roll into the JeffVanderLou neighborhood of north St. Louis this July.

An MSD crew works on a sanitation line in Webster Woods earlier this month.
Metropolitan St. Lewis Sewer District

Updated 3/19/15 to correct the bond amount being requested and add a link to the full rate change proposal.

The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District has proposed two major changes to the rates consumers pay for services and is holding a series of community meetings to explain them.

But even without the new proposals, everyone can expect to see their residential sewer rates continue to rise.

Adrian Clark | Flickr / Flickr

Hospitals are pushing for Medicaid expansion in Missouri. Physicians say it’s crucial. And yet, lawmakers in favor of expansion have been unable to offer a proposal that the legislature’s Republican majority will accept. 

Apartments in the Renaissance Place neighborhood in North St. Louis, which includes subsidized and market-rate housing.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

There’s no shortage of incentive programs to install energy-efficient appliances and fixtures in Missouri, but a new report shows that affordable, affordable, multi-family housing units are often left out of the mix.

According to the paper from the National Resources Defense Council, only 30 percent of households in those buildings within Ameren Missouri and Ameren Illinois' service areas are participating in energy efficiency programs. Energy costs can disproportionately impact low-income families, who spend nearly 14 percent of their annual income on utilities, according to the Missouri Department of Energy.