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Health, Science, Environment

Health, science, and environmental news

Photographs taken during an investigation of fair housing compliance by the Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing and Opportunity Council.
Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing and Opportunity Council

A fair housing advocacy organization has filed federal complaints against five new apartment complexes in the St. Louis area.

The Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing and Opportunity Council claims the buildings do not meet accessibility standards for people with disabilities, further restricting an already limited supply of accessible housing in the region.

Sidney Watson, the Jane and Bruce Robert Professor at Saint Louis University’s Health Law Policy Center
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, Don Marsh talked with Saint Louis University health law professor Sidney Watson about the just released 2018 premiums for policies through the Affordable Care Act and discuss how Missourians and St. Louisans will fare.

This Behind the Headlines discussion was a follow-up to a conversation about what's happening with healthcare in the United States.

A nursing student practices taking a blood sample for a lead test on a volunteer in Jennings.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio.

When a child has an elevated amount of lead in their blood, it’s often up to Tammi Holmes to find the source.

Once, it was a packet of turmeric, brought home after an international trip. Another time, it was the metal letter on an apartment door, traced by a little girl every day as she learned the alphabet.

“We’re missing a lot of kids,” Holmes told a group of educators during a free-testing day at the Gary Gore Elementary School in Jennings. "Sometimes people don't think about things like that, until we have that conversation." 

Bob Brody (L) and Robin Feder (R)
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

The Central Institute for the Deaf (CID) in St. Louis has been serving deaf children throughout the country for more than one hundred years.

“It was founded in 1914 by an ear, nose, and throat doctor in St. Louis, Dr. Max Goldstein,” said Robin Feder, CID’s executive director who previously taught at the school. “He had gone to Europe and seen deaf children being taught to talk there and thought he wanted to bring that new educational philosophy back to St. Louis.”

CID is different than most schools for deaf children in that teachers do not teach sign language.

Michael Okello arranges his cassava harvest, untouched by viruses.
File photo | Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

To prove that a new-gene editing technology could be used to alter the cassava plant, scientists in the St. Louis suburbs zeroed in on a gene used to process chlorophyll. Before long, they had petri dishes full of seedlings that were white as chalk.

The plan is to use CRISPR — a cheaper, faster way to genetically modify crops — to grow cassava plants that are resistant to common plant viruses threatening food supplies in East Africa. But regulatory agencies have yet to finalize how they will treat the new crops.

“It’s only really been available for use in plants for three, four years,” said principal investigator Nigel Taylor, of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in Creve Coeur. “Right now, it’s an experimental tool.”

Lara Hamdan / St. Louis Public Radio

More people are dying annually from overdosing on opioids compared to HIV, car accidents and gun violence. And Missouri is no exception.

“The opioid crisis is the biggest public health emergency of our lifetimes,” said Rachel Winograd, assistant research professor at the Missouri Institute of Mental Health at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

 She said the clear hot-spots of deaths in Missouri are in the St. Louis area.

A Jackson County judge on Monday declined to block a Missouri law requiring abortion physicians to meet with their patients three days before the procedure.

In rejecting a challenge to the law by Missouri’s two Planned Parenthood affiliates, Jackson County Circuit Judge S. Margene Burnett found that the requirement did not impose an “undue burden” on women seeking an abortion.

Washington University's Siteman Cancer Center offers patients with certain blood cancers a new gene-altering therapy that uses the immune system to attack cancer cells.
Provided by Washington University in St. Louis

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration last week approved a drug that genetically modifies a patient's immune cells to attack cancer cells. Washington University's Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital is among the first medical centers to offer the treatment, which is aimed at helping those with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and some types of blood cancers. 

Yescarta, manufactured by California-based Kite Pharmaceuticals, is part of a new wave of drugs that use the immune system to fight cancer, also known as immunotherapy.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 19, 2008 - Like so many others, I have been addicted to the Beijing Olympics, watching every evening for the past 10 days. NBC has been unable to resist flashing the medal count every day, of course. It would be good not to focus on the medals, but for some ignoring medals must be very hard.

I am thinking particularly of Marion Jones. She won five medals in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Seven years later, on Sept. 8, 2007, she returned them to the IOC and six months after that entered Carswell Federal Prison in Fort Worth, Texas.

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

The Environmental Protection Agency plans to conduct further testing for radioactive contamination at the West Lake Landfill Superfund site in Bridgeton. 

Albert Kelly, senior adviser to EPA administrator Scott Pruitt and the head of the agency's Superfund Task Force, made the announcement at a forum late Thursday, where members of the community voiced concerns about the landfill. Kelly said he expects the sampling to occur within the next 90 days in the western part of the site, a portion that agency officials often refer to as "Operating Unit 2."

The announcement came as good news to area residents, who have long worried that that contamination has damaged their health.

Lenita Newberg (L) and Dr. Barbara Milrod joined host Don Marsh to talk about anxiety in children.
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

Anxiety disorders affect one in eight children. That’s according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

“Anxiety is ubiquitous but an anxiety disorder is not,” said Dr. Barbara Milrod, a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist and Professor of Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City.

Milrod joined St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh on Thursday along with Lenita Newberg, director of the Advanced Psychodynamic Psychotherapy Program at the St. Louis Psychoanalytic Institute.

Sidney Watson, the Jane and Bruce Robert Professor at Saint Louis University’s Health Law Policy Center
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s difficult to keep track of day-to-day news about what’s happening with the Affordable Care Act.

What do President Donald Trump’s executive actions do? What’s the latest information about efforts in Congress to deal with the ACA?

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked about the Affordable Care Act with Sidney Watson, the Jane and Bruce Robert Professor at Saint Louis University’s Health Law Policy Center.

“It’s certainly a time of chaos and daily confusion,” Watson said.

An illustration of prescription drugs.
Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Though Republicans in Congress have not passed a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, President Donald Trump has used a series of executive orders and directives in an attempt to peel back parts of the law.

Last week, the administration announced it would stop paying cost-sharing reductions to insurance companies for individual plans purchased through Healthcare.gov, sparking fears of insurance rate hikes just before enrollment season.  

Official estimates show that losing cost-sharing payments could push some premiums up by 20 percent in states like Missouri. In the meantime, open enrollment for individual plans opens Nov. 1.  

Andrew Oberle, a chimp attack survivor who helped create a holistic trauma program at Saint Louis University, shared his story at a live taping of The Story Collider in October 2017.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

In June 2012, Andrew Oberle, an aspiring primate researcher, was brutally attacked by two chimpanzees at a zoo in South Africa. The animals tore his flesh from head to toe and he nearly died.

But after 26 surgeries and extensive therapies at Saint Louis University Hospital, Oberle recovered. His ability to overcome his traumatic experiences led him to want to help others in who've experienced extreme physical injuries. Today, Oberle serves as the director of development for the Oberle Institute, a trauma care program at Saint Louis University that is supported by foudations. He helps raise funds for the institute and also serves as a patient advocate. 

A prairie that contains the common big bluestem grass.
Provided by Kansas State University

Prairies in Missouri and southern Illinois could look shorter by the end of the century, according to a study from the Missouri Botanical Garden and Kansas State University. 

Researchers reported in the journal Global Change Ecology that tall varieties of the big bluestem grass that covers much of Midwestern prairies could be taken over by shorter forms of the plant over the next several decades. That's because climate change could reduce rainfall in many parts of the region, leading to drier conditions.

Faisel Khan, Brad Stoner and Maheen Bokhari
Aaron Doerr | St. Louis Public Radio

There was a hubbub earlier this week when St. Louis, which recently lost its crown for having the highest STD rates in the country to Alabama, was found out to be on top once again due to an accounting error.

Gas extraction wells on the Bridgeton Landfill in summer 2016.
File Photo |Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

Residents and environmental activists expressed concerns at a public hearing Wednesday night that the state's pending stormwater permit for the Bridgeton Landfill does not require monitoring for radioactive waste. 

The Bridgeton Landfill sits above an underground smoldering fire, located about 600 feet from the World War II-era radioactive waste that's under the West Lake Landfill Superfund site. Concerns about radioactive contamination in stormwater rose over the summer, when the Missouri Department of Natural Resources released a report showing levels of alpha particles in runoff at Bridgeton Landfill that exceeded drinking water standards after heavy rains in late April. Alpha particles are a type of radiation that does not pierce the skin and must be ingested to damage human health.

A cornfield
File Photo | Adam Allington | St. Louis Public Radio

The National Science Foundation has awarded $3.4 million to researchers at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, the University of Illinois-Champaign-Urbana and the University of California-Davis to study genes that promote high corn yields.

Advances in crop technology have helped boost corn yields by eightfold in the last century. But productivity of the staple crop has plateaued in recent years and that has pushed researchers to take a closer look at genes that can improve production and help feed the world's rising human population.

After 20 years of selling and using meth, 38-year-old Andy Moss turned his life around. He got off drugs and got a good job. Next step: he wanted to fix his teeth, which had disintegrated, leaving nerves exposed.


Puerto Rico National Guard members distributed water to the communities of Utuado, Puerto Rico, in late September.
Puerto Rico National Gaurd

Two weeks after Hurricane Maria’s 155 mph winds pummeled the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, many residents remain without easy access to electricity, food or running water. Cell phone service is limited, and mail service has not been fully restored.

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