Health, Science, Environment

Health, science, and environmental news

Pasta contemplates a question from 'St. Louis on the Air' host Don Marsh on March 10, 2015, at St. Louis Public Radio.
Alex Heuer / St. Louis Public Radio

Sometimes what you really need is a furry friend.

That’s where Furry Friends Recovery can help. The St. Louis nonprofit connects therapy pet teams with mental health facilities, support groups and individuals who need help. While there are many therapy animals, Furry Friends co-founders Marion Endress and Tricia Hogan both have dogs. Dogs are sensitive to moods and emotions, Hogan said.

Ameren's Callaway reactor is the only commercial nuclear power plant in Missouri.
Missouri Coalition for the Environment

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has renewed the operating license for Ameren's Callaway nuclear power plant through 2044.

But ongoing litigation could quash that renewal.

The Rev. Starsky Wilson, co-chair of the Ferguson Commission.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

The Department of Justice report on the Ferguson Police Department and court system should not have come as a surprise, Ferguson Commission chairman the Rev. Starsky Wilson said. After all, his group has heard and discussed many of the same themes, he said.

The Solar Impulse 1 rests in its inflatable hangar at Lambert Airport after landing in St. Louis on June 4, 2013.
Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

Two years ago, we reported on a solar plane that touched down in St. Louis on its way across the United States.

Now it's successor is on its way around the world.

Trucks dump their loads of single-stream recycling on the "tip floor" at Resource Management's Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) in Earth City, Mo.
Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

If you recycle at home, chances are you take advantage of a system called “single-stream” recycling: you mix all your bottles, newspapers, cans and containers together in a roll cart or dumpster, and a truck comes by once a week to pick them up.

But what happens next? Is that jumble of broken glass, paper, metal and plastic really getting recycled?

S. Wray Clay of the United Way of Greater St. Louis, speaks during a presentation of the annual Kids Count report in East St. Louis.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

“We need to do something different.”  

That was S. Wary Clay's message to parents during a presentation Thursday of the 2015 Kids Count report at the Lessie Bates Davis Family Development Center in East St. Louis.

St. Clair County, which includes East St. Louis, has a 30.3 percent childhood poverty rate, the second-highest for all counties in Illinois. Nearby Marion County's rate is 30.5 percent.

A U.S. military helicopter in Afghanistan arrives to assist a medical evacuation.
Octavian Adam | U.S. Navy

In October 2011, large transport planes flew three mobile MRI machines into two U.S. military bases in southern Afghanistan with a mission: find the source of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by studying the brains of soldiers in combat.

The machines were installed in military trailers, fortified from the dust and steep temperature swings of the desert outside. The delicate imaging equipment was insulated from outdoor vibrations, sound and electromagnetic rays.

Kathy Smith, Miriam Steinberg, and Max Rosen are 4th year students at Washington University's School of Medicine.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Like many states, Missouri is facing a doctor shortage.

The supply of doctors isn't keeping up, even as the population ages and more people have health insurance to pay for medical care. The American Association of Medical Colleges estimates that the country will have a void of about 90,000 physicians by 2020—half of them in primary care.

A little brown bat with white-nose syndrome hangs in Greeley Mine, Vt., in March 2009. The disease has sickened bats in 25 eastern U.S. states and five Canadian provinces.
Marvin Moriarty | U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

The fungal disease white-nose syndrome and other threats to bat survival will be at the top of the agenda of an international meeting being held this week in St. Louis.

The conference is expected to draw about 350 bat specialists from government agencies, academia, environmental consulting firms and non-profits in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Developer Paul McKee outlined his plans for an urgent care hospital at 25th St. and Maiden Ln. in July of 2014.
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

When Missouri regulators approved his proposal Monday, St. Louis developer Paul McKee got one step closer to realizing his $6.8-million dollar project to build an urgent care center in north St. Louis. It's a start but won't fully address the area's needs, health experts say.

EPA Regional Administrator Karl Brooks fields questions from the public at a press conference in Bridgeton in May 2014.
Credit Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

The man who has been overseeing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's work in Missouri is moving on to join the agency's headquarters in Washington, D.C. Here, Karl Brooks reflects on some of St. Louis' biggest issues, including West Lake Landfill.

Austin Machine employees in O'Fallon, Mo., participate in the ice bucket challenge.
Courtesty of ALS Association St. Louis Regional Chapter

Six months ago, the ALS Association’s ice bucket challenge became a viral sensation, raising tens of millions of dollars for the organization.

Flares at the Bridgeton Landfill are used to burn off smelly underground gases.
Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

The Saint Louis County Department of Health is launching a survey to assess the health of people living near the Bridgeton Landfill.

An underground fire has been smoldering at the Bridgeton Landfill since 2010, causing odors emanating from the landfill to increase.

State Sen. Ryan Silvey, R-Kansas City, proposes to expand Medicaid to military vets currently ineligible for coverage.
Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

A Republican state senator joined the Missouri Hospital Association for a telephone town hall meeting Tuesday night to try and garner support for Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.  

Courtesy of the St. Louis Science Center

We've seen the St. Louis Science Center's planetarium decorated in various ways and in many lights. The building even dresses up with a red bow for the holidays and for its 50th anniversary it donned a gold one. But on Monday night it was lit blue and green for a different reason.

Psychologist Wes Crenshaw
Courtesy of Wes Crenshaw

Sex. That little three-letter word strikes fear in many parents’ hearts.

Psychologist Wes Crenshaw told “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh on Monday that the biggest mistake parents make when trying to talk to their kids about sex is “freaking out.”

“Parents just cannot afford to think their kids are the least bit naïve. Kids are tied into the internet and to each other. They know way too much nowadays to take simple answers,” Crenshaw said. Rather than a one-time conversation, talking about sex and sex education is an almost endless conversation, he said.

A view of St. Louis University Hospital, taken 02/23/15.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Citing the projected demand for primary care physicians in underserved areas, a California-based foundation is donating $6.6 million to Saint Louis University’s School of Medicine.

(via Flickr/Michael Velardo)

There’s a new collaborative effort underway to slow down the St. Louis region’s heroin epidemic.

Spearheaded by the St. Louis chapter of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, the plan focuses on using innovative ways to increase awareness about the problem while partnering with legislators, law enforcement and doctors to save lives and reduce access to opiates—both heroin and prescription painkillers.

Judy Clifford, far left, Nancy Albus, Laura Huff and David Bachman talk to 'St. Louis on the Air' host Don Marsh about eating disorders on Feb. 19, 2015, at St. Louis Public Radio in St. Louis.
Alex Heuer / St. Louis Public Radio

Several sterotypes are associated with eating disorders. Among them, that the disease only affects teenage women.

Nancy Albus, CEO of Castlewood Treatment Center, told “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh on Thursday that her facility is seeing more and more men. Because only about one in 10 people affected by an eating disorder seek treatment, there are probably a lot more men (and women) who need treatment, she said.

And it’s not just teens: Eating disorders can manifest at any age, said Laura Huff, director of the St. Louis Behavioral Health Medicine Institute.

Adrian Clark | Flickr / Flickr

The numbers are in: 253,969 people in Missouri signed up for health insurance on this year, or were automatically re-enrolled in their plan. That’s about 100,000 more than last year’s open enrollment period.