Health, Science, Environment | St. Louis Public Radio

Health, Science, Environment

Health, science, and environmental news

The lone star tick is an important vector of a number of diseases, including the heartland virus and ehrlichiosis.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Most people hope to avoid ticks when they take a walk in the woods.

For biologists at Washington University’s Tyson Research Center, however, attracting ticks is the goal.

In a recent study, Tyson researchers collected thousands of lone star ticks in the Missouri Ozarks. The results point to an interesting pattern: the number of ticks found in an area is closely related to the topography, or physical features, of the landscape.

Great Rivers Greenway

Boston-based design firm Stoss Landscape Urbanism will lead the design of the proposed Chouteau Greenway, a network of trails and green spaces that would connect Forest Park to the Gateway Arch. The firm beat three other finalists in an eight-month-long competition.

A capsule of pills.
FDA | file photo

Last year, frustrated with a lack of commitment from state legislators, St. Louis County created its own prescription-drug monitoring program with the specific expectation other areas of the state could join in – and they have.

Albert Kelly, former head of the EPA's Superfund Task Force, and EPA Region 7 administrator Cathy Stepp attend a town hall in Bridgeton about the West Lake Landfill Superfund site in October 2017
File photo | St. Louis Public Radio

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund Task Force resigned Tuesday after one year in the role, leaving residents in northwest St. Louis County unsure about the fate of a proposal to clean up West Lake Landfill.

Albert Kelly, former EPA senior advisor, did not immediately return a call for comment. Media reports say the ex-banking executive resigned after relentless bad press about his financial dealings. Before he joined the EPA, Kelly helped administrator Scott Pruitt get financing to pay for a mortgage and to buy a minor league baseball team. Later, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. banned Kelly from the industry because of a previous banking violation.

Mary Ostafi | Urban Harvest STL

A customized cargo bike full of fruits and vegetables will soon make an appearance in north St. Louis.

Urban Harvest STL and the St. Louis MetroMarket, will send the “Veggie Bike” on its maiden voyage next month. The program, which will initially distribute free produce, is intended to promote the MetroMarket’s mobile farmers market in a converted bus.

The Missouri Botanical Garden's Stephen and Peter Sachs museum.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Visitors at the Missouri Botanical Garden are likely familiar with a historic building on the eastern portion of the grounds, where an obelisk stands outside with the words “In honour of American science.”

When philanthropist Henry Shaw founded the garden in 1859, the building served as its first scientific research facility. It contained a library and an herbarium that housed 62,000 specimens. Today, the garden’s herbarium has more than 7 million specimens, one of the largest botanical collections in the world.

Jacqueline Hudson (left) and Michael Morrison (right) joined host Don Marsh in studio to discuss disparities between mental healthcare needs and access to care in Missouri.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

new report by the Missouri Federation of Behavioral Health Advocates shows concern for the significant disparities between mental health-care needs and access to care in Missouri. On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh discussed the report’s findings and how they might be addressed.

An illustration of pollution, 2017
Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Ozone pollution in St. Louis has slightly improved, according to the 2018 State of the Air report released this month by the American Lung Association. Despite the improvements, the metro area is still ranked the 29th most polluted in the nation.

Susannah Fuchs, the director of clean air at the American Lung Association in Missouri, said one of the reasons St. Louis is still on the list is because of stricter clean air standards.

Cincinnati Health Department

The St. Louis Health Department could soon be looking for someone to replace director Melba Moore, who has led the department since 2015.

A Cincinnati board city board voted unanimously Tuesday to hire Moore as that city's next health department commissioner. According to the board’s chairman, the hire could be done as soon as the end of the week.

Students with the Throwing and Growing Foundation take a tour of Good Life Growing in the Vandeventer neighborhood.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Lonza Patrick has lived in the Walnut Park East neighborhood for more than 50 years. He’s seen the area take repeated turns for the worse, as nearby properties became vacant and neglected.

“Oh man, have I had experiences,” Patrick said.

Patrick wants to see the neighborhood improve and it might, with the unrolling of a new initiative to demolish vacant properties to build green spaces. It’s headed by the Green City Coalition, which consists of the Missouri Department of Conservation, the Missouri Botanical Garden and several other St. Louis-based nonprofits.

Maliyah Isadora, 2 months, and her mother, Courtney, at their home in Florissant in this 2015 photo
File photo | Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Regions of the state with combined high poverty rates and concentrated African-American populations have higher percentages of low birth weight babies, according to data from the U.S. Census and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

The Missouri Sierra Club and its supporters gathered in front of Ameren Missouri's headquarters in St. Louis in April 2018 to protest against proposed regulations that could weaken oversight of coal ash waste.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

As environmentalists voiced concerns in Washington about possible changes to the Environmental Protection Agency's rules on disposing coal ash waste, some in Missouri chose to express their opposition by staging a protest at a major utility corporation's doorstep. 

The Missouri chapter of the Sierra Club gathered a small band of supporters Tuesday at Ameren Missouri's headquarters in St. Louis. They held large signs that showed images of Ameren's four power plants in Missouri and listed details about the toxic heavy metals that coal ash contains, such as arsenic.

Ameren Missouri announced recently that it plans to close all of its coal ash ponds by 2022. However, activists want the regulators to address the contamination the ponds have already caused and are unhappy that Ameren has chosen to close its ponds by leaving them in place.

Bill Nye is making a keynote appearance at the St. Louis Climate Summit.
Bill Nye

On this week’s St. Louis on the Air, St. Louis Public Radio science reporter Eli Chen spoke with Bill Nye ahead of his keynote appearance Monday evening as part of the three-day St. Louis Climate Summit at Saint Louis University.

Their conversation touched on how the Science Guy seeks to engage audiences of all ages around topics such as climate change as well as the importance of critical thinking and storytelling.

Beth Maynor Finch

Edward O. Wilson’s long career has been marked by enormous contributions to the field of biology, with an impact on global conservation efforts that is difficult to overstate. All of it grew out of his close attention years ago to something relatively small: the behavior of ants.

Wilson recalled one of his earliest interactions with the insects, a memory from his boyhood in northern Alabama, on Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air in conversation with host Don Marsh.

Theresia Metz will replace interim administrator Stan Smith. Smith was appointed in December by the Missouri Veterans Commission.
Missouri Veterans Commission

The St. Louis Veterans Home has a new administrator.

Theresia Metz will replace Stan Smith, who became interim director in January.

The Missouri Veterans Commission announced Metz’s appointment today, months after residents and their family members accused veterans home officials and staff of mismanagement and neglect. An independent investigation called by Gov. Eric Greitens confirmed those complaints.  

Dr. John Constantino (left) and Steve Houston (right) talked about understanding autism and the latest research in the diagnosis and treatment of it.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

April is National Autism Awareness Month. On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked about the prevalence of autism and discussed the latest research in the diagnosis and treatment of autism.

Allan Doctor, professor of pediatrics at Washington University School of Medicine, is part of a research team working to develop an artificial blood substitute.
E. Holland Durando | Washington University

Thousands of people in the United States die each year due to severe blood loss, often before they reach an emergency room.

To help reduce the number of trauma deaths, a Washington University research team is working to develop an artificial blood substitute. The freeze-dried red powder, which can be reconstituted with sterile water, is intended to keep patients alive until they’re able to reach a hospital.

Saint Louis University faculty member Cara Wallace offered ideas for why – and how – people can broach important topics related to end-of-life care.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air included the sort of conversation that often doesn’t happen as often or as early as it should among loved ones – the kind about planning for the end of life.

Joining host Don Marsh for the discussion was Cara Wallace, an assistant professor in the School of Social Work at Saint Louis University.

Her research focuses on overcoming barriers to end-of-life care as well as improving quality of life, and she also educates health-care students, professionals and the general public about facing issues surrounding death, illness, loss and grief.

Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

Saint Louis University researchers are one step closer to understanding how to prevent the chronic pain associated with chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy patients often experience burning and tingling in the hands and feet, known as “chemotherapy-induced neuropathic pain.” The condition has no known treatment, but new research offers a reason to hope. In a recent study, a team of SLU researchers successfully “turned off” the pain associated with a common chemotherapy drug.

 

The Apollo 11 command module Columbia will be on display at the St. Louis Science Center.
Eric Long | National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution

A treasure trove of invaluable artifacts from the space race will be on display at the St. Louis Science Center.

“Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission,” a traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, opens Saturday in St. Louis.

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