Health, Science, Environment

Health, science, and environmental news

A flu vaccine gets placed inside a needle.
Daniel Paquet | Flickr

Shots aren’t for everyone, but the manufacturer of a nasal spray version of the vaccine experienced a technical issue early in the season that caused shipping delays.

At Forest Park Peds in St. Louis, office manager Gail McCarthy says the clinic has been receiving just a percentage of the FluMist vaccines they’d originally ordered.

Medical professionals raise hands during a room-wide survey of whether they have provided care to someone they knew or believed was a victim of human trafficking.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

A young woman comes into an emergency room, trailed by a much older boyfriend who answers questions for her. A man with a broken ankle and no identification asks a doctor to promise the hospital will not tell his employer that he sought medical care.  

This radiation warning sign is one of many posted on the chain link fence surrounding part of the West Lake Landfill in Bridgeton, Mo.
Sarah Skiold-Hanlin | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 5 p.m., Oct. 20 with new information -- St. Louis Public Radio is updating this FAQ to describe what we know — and don't know — about the Bridgeton and West Lake landfills. We'll continue to add to it based on your input and as new information becomes available.

In March 2014, we first published this story to help answer some key questions about the situation at this complex of landfills in north St. Louis County.

A lot has happened since then — but in many ways, not much has changed.

The robot Max, in action at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Belleville.
Nassim Benchaabane| St. Louis Public Radio

A whirr, a few beeps and an intense, sustained flash of light. After five minutes, the surfaces in one part of a hospital room are completely disinfected, thanks to a robot named Max.

It sounds like something out of a science fiction movie. In fact, Max sort of looks like R2D2’s bulkier, germophobic cousin. It’s one of two robots (the other is named “Zappy”) recently purchased by St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Belleville to combat “superbugs,” a term for bacteria that have evolved to be resistant to antibiotics.

http://kathrineswitzer.com/press-room/photos/
AP Images, Kathrine Switzer

The first woman to officially enter and run the Boston Marathon, in 1967, did so under the gender-neutral entry “K.V. Switzer.” When race officials found out she was a woman, one race director physically attacked her for wearing an official bib number in the race. That moment was caught on camera and made headlines around the world, later becoming one of Time-Life’s “100 Photos that Changed the World.” Her full name is Kathrine Switzer.

A water stain on a basement wall.
provided by EPA

Indoor mold can pose a health hazard for people with allergies, asthma or lung illnesses. But there are few regulations for what St. Louis area landlords are required to do about it.

Lee Camp, an attorney for Legal Services of Eastern Missouri, estimates that a quarter of his housing cases involve disputes with a tenant and their landlord over mold.   

This radiation warning sign is one of many posted on the chain link fence surrounding part of the West Lake Landfill in Bridgeton, Mo.
Sarah Skiold-Hanlin | St. Louis Public Radio

A federal report shows no off-site human health risk from radioactive waste at the West Lake Landfill.

At the request of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, or ATSDR, reviewed existing data on groundwater, air, and soil contamination at and around the landfill in Bridgeton.

Overall, the assessment found no radiation risk to surrounding communities, but did caution that workers at the landfill need to be protected from inhaling radioactive dust and radon gas.

This photo taken in February of the Bridgeton Landfill's south quarry shows the plastic cap and several gas extraction wells.
Katelyn Mae Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

Bridgeton and West Lake Landfill owner Republic Services is calling into question the validity of one of the reports released last month by Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster.

A deposition given this Wednesday and Thursday by the report's lead author seems to raise doubts about whether or not the underground fire at the Bridgeton Landfill is really moving toward nearby radioactive waste.

UMSL planetarium in action
Timothy Wombles

The University of Missouri-St. Louis is opening a newly renovated planetarium for students and the public. Astronomy professor Erika Gibb says the renovated facility is even a little more cutting edge than the Saint Louis Science Center’s planetarium, at least for now.

(Adam Allington/St. Louis Public Radio)

Drought conditions across portions of Missouri are having both a positive and negative effect on crops grown in the Show-Me State.

The lack of rain over much of Missouri has not harmed the state's corn crop and is enabling farmers to get heavy equipment into the fields for harvest.

Community activist Dawn Chapman speaks to an overflow crowd at the John Calvin Presbyterian Church about problems at the West Lake and Bridgeton landfills.
Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 1:00 a.m. after the landfill meeting - Hundreds of area residents jammed into the John Calvin Presbyterian Church in Bridgeton Thursday night for a meeting about two St. Louis County landfills.

Many people at the meeting had never heard of the Bridgeton and West Lake landfills until last week, when St. Louis County made public an emergency response plan describing how it would respond if an underground fire at Bridgeton reaches radioactive waste at West Lake.

Ferguson Farmers Market

The oldest, still-operating farmers market in St. Louis, Soulard Farmers Market, has a history that stretches back over 200 years. But it is only in the past 15 that the local food scene has exploded across other municipalities in the region, bringing with it smaller markets and more opportunities for local growers to sell their produce and products.

Advocate and author Christine McDonald, right, listens to Missouri Congresswoman Ann Wagner's testimony during a public hearing in St. Louis about human trafficking.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

About three dozen minors in the St. Louis region have been rescued from sex trafficking so far this year, and a nationwide sting last week recovered 149 children, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. But during a public hearing in St. Louis, local agencies who help victims said they’re strapped for resources.

Dr. Michael Bavlsik works as medical director at Barnes Jewish Extended Care in Clayton. He received a nerve-transfer surgery after a spinal cord injury, and has since been able to improve function in his arms, wrists and hands.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Dr. Michael Bavlsik uses a motorized wheelchair to visit his patients at an extended care facility in Clayton. It’s been more than three years since his spine was crushed in a severe highway collision, when he was driving a van of Boy Scouts home from a camp in Minnesota.   

“The 11 boys who were in the van got out and were all unharmed, but the roof of the van was deformed and crushed me,” Bavlsik said.

e-MagineArt.com | Flickr

Missouri hospitals have seen a drastic increase in prescription painkiller abuse over the past decade. According to a study from the Missouri Hospital Association, the rate of hospitalization due to the abuse of prescription opioids has increased by 137 percent since 2005.

The numbers localize a problem usually shown through national statistics. For instance, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 44 people die every day in the United States from prescription painkiller overdoses.

Davion Thompson, 14, clocks the speed of cars passing the intersection of Gasconade Street and Compton Avenue Saturday, Oct 10, 2015 during Trailnet's traffic calming demo.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Brightly-colored tires simulating flower beds popped-up along a two-block stretch of Gasconade Street Saturday in the Dutchtown neighborhood of south St. Louis.

Bicycle and pedestrian advocacy group Trailnet set the tires up to block the corners of intersections leading up to Marquette Park, shortening the distance people crossing the road were exposed to traffic. Other tires formed a zig-zag route for drivers to navigate.

Kenyan immigrant Geoffrey Soyiantet on Oct. 6
Kameel Stanley | St. Louis Public Radio

Many organizations in St. Louis have made a concerted effort recently to be more welcoming to refugees and immigrants.

But that doesn’t mean that when people get here they have an easy adjustment.

That process should be made easier, some say, with a new effort called the Immigrant Service Providers Network.

The Sisters of Mercy Health System debuted their newly-constructed, $54 million Virtual Care Center in Chesterfield on Tuesday. The building will house 330 employees to assist doctors and patients across four states, according to the network.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

A doorbell rings in a patient's room. A monitor swivels around, showing a real-time video of a nurse making her rounds for the day. 

"Good morning, Mr. Rhodes. How are you doing this morning?" the nurse asks, her eyes scanning a number of screens that show her patient's vital signs and notes from his electronic health record. 

(via Flickr/ellie)

Open enrollment for Medicare starts this month, on Oct. 15, and closes Dec. 7.  It is the only time of the year that plan beneficiaries have the ability to change their Medicare health and drug plans.

Plan costs and coverage benefits seem to change almost as soon as they are enacted. Around 1700 people in the St. Louis area alone will be impacted by their Medicare Advantage plan not renewing their contract with Medicare, making open enrollment an important part of the year to pay attention to.

Aine O'Connor | St. Louis Public Radio

  On Tuesday, Dr. John Morley, SLUCare physician and director of geriatrics at Saint Louis University’s School of Medicine, joined “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh to discuss remaining vital and vibrant through the years as well as a recent $2.5 million federal grant to the university to teach primary care doctors to care for older adults.

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