Health, Science, Environment

Health, science, and environmental news

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

The kingdom needs the contributions of all its people to thrive. 

That's the premise of "Gateway Gauntlet," an animated video directed by Benjamin Kaplan as part of an 18-month community engagement effort conducted by St. Louis Public Radio. The video premiered Oct. 1 in the Public Media Commons in Grand Center.

This colorized scanning electron micrograph image shows filamentous Ebola virus particles (shown in blue) infecting a cell (shown in yellow-green).
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH

Scientists at Washington University have developed a genetic test that can be used to detect practically any virus known to infect humans.

It could be especially useful for quickly identifying the cause of deadly disease outbreaks or helping a patient whose disease has eluded diagnosis.

When she was a student at Maplewood Richmond Heights High School back in the 70s, Betty Pearson would ring a cowbell every time the Blue Devils made a touchdown. Her high school sweetheart — now her husband — played football, and their oldest son later followed in his footsteps. So when the school board announced they were ending the district's high school football program due to a lack of interest, Pearson was pretty shocked.

“I was first sad! I was like, 'Oh wow.' You know?” Pearson said.

Panelist Dr. Karen Edison, who helps create health policy surveys at the University of Missouri, said she was once threatened with a loss of funding for including survey questions about sexual orientation. AJ Bockleman of PROMO sits to her right.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Sometimes, state and federal law are in conflict.

Rules for the protection of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people is one example. Even though the federal government prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity on many counts, Missouri state law does not include those protections. 

Resolving those conflicts was the focus of a summit Wednesday between members of the LGBT community, their advocates and representatives from five federal agencies. 

Starkloff Disability Institute

It has been 25 years since the historic Americans with Disabilities Act was enacted by the U.S. Congress and St. Louis will join cities across the country in commemorating its passage. 

(Part 3 of 3)

In November 2013 Kari Karidis was in her office at Collinsville High School when a local hospital called to tell her that her son Chaz was in cardiac arrest. When she arrived at the emergency room she was told her son had died. All she could do was go into his room and say goodbye.

“He still had the tube — the breathing tube in,” Karidis recalled, sitting in that same office earlier this year. “I just sat there. I don’t know how long. I just remember thinking I can’t look at this but I can’t leave.”

St. Louis County officials will soon decide whether to turn medical services at two county jails over to a private contractor. The decision is pending even as members of the medical community — including current justice center employees — have raised concerns over the dangers of privatizing healthcare in jail.

A dose of naloxone, the opiate overdose antidote.
Openfile Vancouver | Flickr

(Part 2 of 3)

Earlier this month, a new anti-heroin law went into effect in Illinois. The measure requires first responders to carry the opiate overdose antidote naloxone and expands the amount of addiction treatment paid for by Medicaid. But how the drugs and treatment will be paid for is unclear. State funding for addiction treatment is also in limbo as Illinois enters its 13th week without a budget.

Meanwhile, there have been a number of legislative attempts in recent years aimed at fighting the heroin epidemic in Missouri. But the only bill to become law is a measure allowing law enforcement to carry the overdose antidote. And so far very few police departments have taken advantage of the law.

(Part 1 of 3) - On an April morning in 2014, Kelley McDonald woke up in her suburban St. Charles home and went downstairs to remind her son Sean to take his bipolar medication.

“I go over to the couch and I kind of shake him and I’m like come on buddy you’ve got to take your medicine. And that’s when I looked at him and he was kind of blue and I started screaming,” said Kelley McDonald, her voice shaking as she sits next to her husband Michael at a restaurant gazebo one year later.

Adrienne Holden has seen hard deaths and easier deaths. Long ones and short ones. Times when the deceased left their families with precise instructions for their care and burial, and times when they did not.

Courtesy of Raven

Joe Eulberg  doesn't remember what made him so upset that he flipped a table during an argument with his wife 20 years ago.

He does remember the outcome.

"A few days after that, Barbara, my wife, came and said you need to get help or I'm going to leave and take the kids,” Eulberg said in a recent interview with St. Louis Public Radio.

Eulberg turned for help to the Raven.

Alex Heuer

September is World Alzheimer’s Month and statistics from the recently released ‘World Alzheimer Report 2015’ show that by 2050, an estimated 131.5 million people across the globe will have dementia. Currently, that number sits at about 46.8 million people worldwide. A shift in the proportional growth of older populations is the root cause of that increase, but still, the numbers are startling.

Updated 5:00 p.m., Sept. 24 with vote result - The Missouri Air Conservation Commission has voted to designate parts of Franklin and St. Charles counties as "unclassifiable" for sulfur dioxide pollution.

Thursday's vote follows a recommendation by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources earlier this week.

Adrian Clark | Flickr

Even Medicaid is out of reach for some of Missouri’s poorest children, who are uninsured at a rate 2.5 times as high as their counterparts in Illinois. Being uninsured can limit a child’s access to health care or wreak havoc on a family’s finances in the case of an emergency. 

New census numbers show that about 5 percent of Missouri children in families with incomes below 200 percent of poverty ($3,348 a month for a family of three) did not have health insurance in 2014. In Illinois, which has twice as many low-income families, only 2 percent of children in that demographic were uninsured.

The city of St. Louis is being recognized by the National Wildlife Federation as a leader in the effort to restore the monarch butterfly habitat.

Since this map was created, EPA contractors have detected more radioactive waste than what is shown in pink, including some along the southern edge of OU-1 in what is called the "muffin top" of the north quarry of the Bridgeton Landfill.
Debbie Kring | U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Updated 1:15 p.m. and 3:15 p.m., Sept. 18 with U.S. Department of Energy response and comment from Sen. McCaskill's office - The U.S. Department of Energy is denying a request from members of Missouri's congressional delegation to transfer authority for the cleanup of radioactive waste at the West Lake Landfill in Bridgeton from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Larry Rice, the director of the New Life Evangelistic Center, holds a press conference in a worship area that also serves as an overflow room to accommodate additional people at the shelter.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

A federal judge has ruled that the New Life Evangelistic Center in downtown St. Louis can stay open, until further order from the court.  

On Thursday’s “St. Louis on the Air,” host Don Marsh brought together several different parties to talk about ongoing community concerns over radioactive contamination at the Bridgeton and West Lake landfills. He was joined by: 

  • Véronique LaCapra - St. Louis Public Radio’s science reporter. She has reported extensively on the situation at both landfills

  • Dawn Chapman - Citizen activist

  • Mike Petersen – Chief of Public Affairs, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

There are no sirens or flashing lights as Katie Eisenbeis, a 26-year-old paramedic from Christian Hospital, parks her medical van on a tree-lined street in Ferguson.  This is a house call.

On Monday morning, St. Louis detectives began work on the city’s 145th homicide case since January. The body of a 25-year-old man was found in a car with multiple gunshot wounds in the Mark Twain neighborhood, an area less than two miles square that has already experienced six murders in the past nine months. 

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