Health, Science, Environment

Health, science, and environment news

Indroducing social flexibility through yoga

Feb 6, 2012
photo courtesy of Niroga Center

There are thousands of yoga studios all over the Bay Area. They usually cater to people who can pay the $15-20 class fee. But the Nirgoa Institute in Berkeley offers classes to low-income senior citizens, incarcerated youth, homeless shelters and inner city high school students.

Combating Food Waste in the Bay Area

Jan 30, 2012
photo courtesy of


Host: Joseph Pace

Producer: Susan Britton

The diary of an egg donor

Jan 25, 2012

As a growing number of American women delay childbearing into their thirties and forties, the use of assisted reproductive technology such as in vitro fertilization, sperm banks, and egg donation has gone through the roof. In the growing world of egg donation, there’s a lucrative market for healthy young ovaries – not to mention the emotional value to infertile couples.

Composting is just one way we’re thinking about reducing waste, and when it works, we notice: landfills slim down, and gardens bulk up. But then there’s the waste that doesn’t take up space, like energy.

East Palo Alto is considered a food desert: There is little to no access to healthy food, and residents have to rely on corner stores for food. In fact, it had been over 30 years since East Palo Alto had its own full-service supermarket until grocery chain Mi Pueblo announced it was coming to town in November 2007. It was a huge source of controversy at the time; demonstrators flooded the streets and packed city council meetings, carrying signs like, “No to Mi Pueblo” while supporters held signs that said, “Yes to Fresh Produce.” The new store brought in both excitement and anxiety.

Courtesy of Capital Public Radio/Flickr capradio

Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. Close to 19 million Americans are diagnosed with the disease, and of those diagnosed, 5 million are African American.

Native Americans are also being devastated by diabetes, but communities are taking steps to fight the disease in ways unique to their cultural traditions. Many realize their health is directly tied to the choices they make in life. Like at the grocery store, where the choice between broccoli and biscuits can ultimately mean the difference between life and death.

Photo by Shani Aviram

One of the expenses truckers face is paying to upgrade their rigs to meet new environmental emissions regulations for diesel engines. California has the strictest gasoline emissions regulations in the country. If you own a car in this state, then you’ve been through the ritual of the smog check. Until very recently, diesel engines on freight trucks – big rigs that haul almost everything we buy in and out of ports and across the country – haven’t been under the same rules. Now, that’s starting to change.

Today's Your Call: Are you uninsured or underinsured?

Jan 10, 2012


On today's Your Call, we’ll have a conversation about The Affordable Care Act. What are the new coverage options? In California, the cost of health insurance is rising more rapidly than family incomes. What resources are available for those of us don’t have healthcare or don’t have much coverage?  Join us at 10 or email What resources are available? And what’s in store for the future of healthcare? It’s Your Call, with Rose Aguilar and you.


Most of us have experienced job burnout – when we get bored with our work or sick of our colleagues, for example. But what happens when your work is all about other people? If you’re a doctor, or a nurse, or a teacher? This is what Berkeley PhD student Eve Ekman calls “empathy burnout.” Holly Kernan spoke with Ekman about her research.

Photo courtesy of Hadley Robinson

With gold continuing to sell at historically high prices, the hunt for the shiny mineral is alive and well. Mostly.

In 2009, California outlawed a technique known as suction dredge mining, which makes finding gold a bit easier than shaking a pan. Officials wanted to study potential damage to the Klamath River, an area where there was lots of dredging. KALW’S Hadley Robinson has the story about a struggle for power along the river.

I just received a press release with this subject heading:

News Advisory - Doomsday Clock - Major Announcement to be Made Tuesday by Bulletin of Atomic Scientists

That'll get your attention, won't it? So I read the email. Turns out after "year-long deliberations" a collection of scientists will determine whether or not the end of the world is more nigh than it was at the beginning of 2011.

After a series of earthquakes near Youngstown, Ohio last week, some observers are pointing to an unusual culprit. Yesterday seismologist John Armbruster told NPR that he thinks the quakes were related to an oil and gas extraction process called fracking.


On the next Your Call, we’ll talk about concrete ways we can resist crony capitalism – and narrow the gap between the 1% and the rest of us.  What should we be demanding – and what are some real victories we can win?   And how can we keep economic inequality in the conversation during this election year?   Join us live at 10 or send an email to Where do you see glimmers of hope for economic change? It’s Your Call, with Rose Aguilar and you.


Learning to eat well in the land of plenty

Dec 20, 2011
Photo by Shuka Kalantari

For most of us, thinking about our healthy eating habits happens maybe once a year at New Years, or right before swimsuit season. But for refugee kids, learning how to eat healthy in America is an entirely new challenge. In another story by reporter Shuka Kalantari, 15-year-old Ja Tu Marip, a foster child from Myanmar, didn’t have a lot of access to junk food like candy and soda. In this story by Shuka Kalantari, Ja Tu’s older sister Seng Raw talks about her adjustment to the American diet.

SENG RAW MARIP: Basically the food in Burma is rice.

Food reeducation as a refugee

Dec 20, 2011
Photo by Shuka Kalantari

Many refugees are children who come to this country without their parents. And many have little to no understanding of how to eat well in their new home. Ja Tu Marip is one of those refugees. He used to live with his family in a labor camp in Kachin, a northern state in Myanmar. But when he came to the United States, he encountered a remarkable culture shock.

Shuka Kalantari reports.

JA TU MARIP: Kit Kat snack size. Oh yeah, right here. Gummi berries. I like these a lot when I get here. And gummi worms…

Counting calories at McDonalds

Dec 20, 2011

Hungry? You might be craving that one restaurant in your neighborhood – you know the one. Whichever restaurant you’re thinking of, there’s one popular eatery that you can find in more than 100 countries nowadays for a good old-fashioned American meal.

MCDONALDS COMMERCIAL: Start off your day, everyday, with breakfast  variety at McDonalds! We love to see you smile!

On the next Your Call, we’ll have a conversation with Elizabeth Grossman about her book"Chasing Molecules: Poisonous Products, Human Health and the Promise of Green Chemistry."  Consumers are becoming more aware of the potential health and environmental hazards of plastic products.  Grossman argues that green chemistry could offer a new manufacturing process that is “benign by design.”  So could we get away from plastic entirely?  Join us at 10 or email us at

Technology has done great things for medicine: Machines can help keep hearts beating and lungs breathing. Electronic medical records help doctors keep track of their patients’ treatment and prevent mistakes. But all that technology needs a lot of monitoring – and that can be frustrating for nurses who want to be tending people, not machines.

To combat this problem, healthcare provider Kaiser Permanente is implementing a new program to help nurses relax a bit, and shift their focus back to what’s really important.  KALW’S Christopher Connelly has more on what they’re doing.

The psychology of what makes teens thankful

Nov 29, 2011

Teenagers often feel misunderstood. It’s a hard time of life – somewhere between childhood and adulthood, not quite one or the other – with a future that is at once uncertain, exciting, and overwhelming. It’s no wonder that they can seem ungrateful for what’s going on in the present – and that’s something researchers have found repeatedly. Youth Radio’s Rayana Godfrey decided to take that presumption on in this report on the science of.

RAYANA GODFREY: My mom would kill me if I ever acted like the kid in this popular YouTube video:

Compared with the rest of the nation, the Bay Area is an easy place to go green – many restaurants will give you take-out with biodegradable containers and silverware, trash cans have a section for recyclables, and San Francisco, along with other Bay Area cities, even offers compost collection

DIY: How to recycle water in your home

Nov 22, 2011
Patrick Smith

Think about the parts of your home where you can conserve water: there’s the shower, the sink, the toilet, and if you’ve got them, maybe a dishwasher or washing machine. You can reduce the amount of water you use, but what about reusing it? KALW’s Thea Chroman decided to learn how to reuse water spent on cleaning herself – and stuff – in a segment called D.I.Y.

As many San Franciscans know, dropped calls are such a common problem with cell phones that in 2002, Verizon Wireless launched a commercial empire based on that now-famous tagline:

“Genius” is a pretty loaded title. But the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation began bestowing that honor on American luminaries who shine in a variety of respective fields. They no longer call the recipients “geniuses,” but they do still award half-a-million dollars to 20 or so every year to support their work. No strings attached.

Host:  Joseph Pace

Producer: Susan Britton


Host: Joseph Pace

Producer: Judith Sansone

When we think of people who are hungry, images of Depression-era food lines, or a scantily clad child from a non-specific less developed nation typically come to mind. However, the true face of hunger in San Francisco is better captured among the familiar faces on the Muni train; all ages, all ethnic backgrounds, all body types struggle to put enough food on the table.

Host: Lauren Meltzer

Producer: Susan Britton

Domestic Violence in the Economic Downturn

Jan 10, 2011


Host: Joseph Pace

Producer: Lisa Denenmark

Widespread, long-term unemployment continues to strain California’s social systems. Underfunded and stretched to the limit amid increased need, Bay Area women's shelters are turning away women and children.

Victims of domestic violence are staying longer in abusive relationships, where, according to some reports, the violence is more frequent and more severe. Among those survivors, 34 percent will become homeless, in a climate where competition is rife for scarce public and affordable housing.