Health & Science

Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting / via Tableau

As the stories airing this week on West Virginia Morning illustrate, West Virginia is in the midst of a heroin epidemic. According to  the state Department of Health and Human Resources'  Drug Overdose Database, heroin has claimed the lives of more than 600 West Virginians since 2001. 

Wikimedia Commons

The opium poppy is a source of beauty in gardens and fields all over the country and the world. But it’s also a source of pain relief and when abused, death.  In recent years death tolls from heroin, a derivative of the poppy, have tripled nationwide, and the numbers are just as stark here in West Virginia.

Frontline PBS recently tackled the poppy’s intimate connection to humans, tracing it back thousands of years. It started with the Sumerians in 3400 B.C., who passed it to the Assyrians, to the Babylonians, to the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Persians, the Chinese, British, and in 1905 Congress banned U.S. imports of opium - the derivative of poppy seeds and base of heroin. Little good it did. A black market bloomed thereafter and of course, the 5,000-year-old obsession with the opium poppy continues.

But today our region of the world is in the grips of an especially nasty resurgence of heroin addiction.

www.mine-engineer.com

Several federal government agencies are teaming up to send $35.5 million to help communities and workers adapt to the decline in coal jobs.  The grant is part of the  Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization  initiative, known as POWER, led by the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Agency.

Provided

Members of Clarksburg's water board say health concerns were behind their vote to stop using fluoride in the city's water supply.

The board voted 2-1 late last month to discontinue the practice.

Water board members Paul Howe and Charlie Thayer told The Exponent-Telegram they were concerned about fluoride's long-term health effects.

Why the Struggle for Water in the Coalfields?

May 8, 2015
Derek Cline

Water: it's a basic human need. On this episode, we'll get a glimpse into some of the water infrastructure needs in southern West Virginia. It's not easy to bring treated water to some of the remote places in the mountains. Wading through the bureaucratic application process, and finding creative solutions with multiple funding sources is often the only way to bring potable water to some rural communities. Find out what it's like to live with frequent outages and advisories, and the folks working to bring clean water to these areas.

Glynis Board / WVPB

West Virginia University President Gordon Gee kicked off a 55-county tour this week with a visit to Mingo and Logan counties. He traveled with doctors and medical students from WVU who were making rounds to a clinic in Gilbert, and then split off to visit other areas of the counties as well. 


Department of Environmental Protection, DEP
Department of Environmental Protection

The W.Va. Department of Environmental Protection has Statement About Danny Webb waste site in Fayette County. DEP Communications Director, Kelly J. Gillenwater said in an email Friday:

Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Over 200,000 people under the age of sixty-five suffer from Alzheimer’s in the United States. Around 4,000 of those live in West Virginia.

Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Can service dogs help veterans living with post-traumatic stress disorder function in a civilian work environment? Researchers at West Virginia University are trying to find out.

 

Sometimes it’s hard to get interviewees to open up when you first meet them. 

 

“Bella, speak. Oh, inside voices. That’s very good.”

 

Bill Hughes

  After a 2014 chemical spill polluted drinking water for more than 300,000 people in West Virginia, lawmakers there quickly mandated tighter surveillance of the state's chemical storage tanks. It revealed dozens of tanks that shouldn't have been in service still posed a potential threat to drinking water for more than 134,000 people downstream.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

State officials have kicked off a push at redefining the mission of public health in West Virginia.

The Bureau for Public Health held an initial meeting of the public health impact task force Wednesday.

Black lung is a deadly disease caused by exposure to dust underground.
Department of Labor

The public is getting the chance to weigh in on a proposed rule that gives coal miners greater access to their health records.

The U.S. Labor Department's Office of Workers' Compensation Programs has made the proposed Black Lung Benefits Act rule available for public comment starting Wednesday.

wikimedia Commons / user: RogDel / Sarah Gerrity / Department of Energy

Students from two Monongalia County schools are representing West Virginia in the National Science Bowl.

The event will be held Friday through next Monday at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

Optum Health Services

Health services company Optum has acquired walk-in medical care provider MedExpress.

Terms of the sale were not disclosed.

Eden Prairie, Minnesota-based Optum announced the sale earlier this month. It is a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group Inc., the nation's largest health insurer.

West Virginia Autism Training Center

As the country recognizes autism awareness month, the state is making progress, but researchers across West Virginia say there’s still a long way to go.

Programs  

Alec Hildebeidel is a junior journalism student at Marshall University. He was attracted to Marshall by the radio program at the student-run station WMUL. But, perhaps more importantly for Alec, the Bel Air, Maryland, native was attracted to a program at the University to help students with autism.  

WVU Photo by Brian Persinger

A direct descendent of the tree that inspired Sir Isaac Newton’s Theory of Gravity has just been planted in Morgantown. It was a gift to retired Sen. Jay Rockefeller by the National Institute of Standards and Technology earlier this month in honor of his science policy leadership during a 30-year career in the United States Senate.

  A new study of a radioactive, carcinogenic gas has grabbed the attention of news outlets and both pro and anti-fracking groups alike. The study published earlier this month says increases of radon gas in people’s homes in Pennsylvania coincide with the horizontal drilling boom. Some geological researchers in the region are skeptical while others aren’t at all surprised.


Department of Environmental Protection, DEP
Department of Environmental Protection

The West Virginia Environmental Quality Board ruled earlier this month the the Department of Environmental Protection violated state law when it allowed Danny Webb Construction to operate the injection wells in Fayette County without a permit.

After being rescheduled several times because of weather, a public hearing to discuss the permit application is scheduled for tonight at Oak Hill High School.
The public is invited to attend the public about these UIC permits. It's scheduled for tonight from six until eight at Oak Hill High School.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin was joined by lawmakers and patient advocacy groups from across the state at the Capitol Thursday for the ceremonial signing of two healthcare related bills.

Senate Bill 366 creates the Patient Protection and Transparency Act which offers protections to people who sign up for insurance through a federal health care exchange website.

Tomblin also signed House Bill 2100 known as the Caregiver Advise, Record and Enable Act.

Wikimedia Commons

  When we hear about the danger of dust exposure, we are usually talking about coal dust underground, or silica dust. But that’s not the only dust that can make people sick. Apparently almost any dust can, if it’s fine enough.


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