Public Health

Patrick Semansky / AP

In January, 39-year-old Damian Chadwick died at a Bethel Park barbershop a little before 2 p.m. According to the Allegheny County Medical Examiner, the overdose death was due to a combination of cocaine, alcohol and the synthetic opioid fentanyl.

As the opioid epidemic rages on, more and more places from libraries to Goodwill stores are keeping the anti-overdose drug naloxone on hand. 

Since September, all YMCAs of Greater Pittsburgh have had somoene on duty who’s trained to administer naloxone, which reverses the effects of an overdose by restarting a person’s breathing.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld Ohio's voter registration law in a 5-4 ruling Monday that loosens restrictions on how and when the state can purge its voter rolls. Proponents of the law argue it keeps their record books cleaner, while voting rights activists argue it punishes registered voters for not exercising that right, and disproportionally removes minority and Democratic names.

Thein Zaw / AP

For a long time, scientists thought that the flu virus degraded in humid conditions and that was the reason most people don’t catch it in the summer.

University of Pittsburgh microbiologist Seema Lakdawala and collaborators devised an experiment to determine how mucus enables the airborne transmission of H1N1, which caused the 2009 swine flu pandemic, and found that it survived in several types of environments. Dry, moist – it didn’t matter.

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA

An ambulance pulled up to the entrance of UPMC Preysbetarian's emergency room in early June, a pair of EMTs unloaded a portable isolation pod, basically a human-sized, medical-grade Ziploc bag.

The Breathe Project

A new initiative aims to employ citizen scientists to monitor air pollution created at U.S. Steel Corporation plants located in the Mon Valley.

Tony Dejak / AP

The suicide rate among young black children is double that of their white peers, according to a new study co-authored by a Carnegie Mellon University statistician. 

M. Spencer Green / AP

Women who deliver children before 37 weeks of pregnancy are also more likely to have heart attacks, according to a new study from Magee-Women’s Research Institute.

Researchers followed 1,049 women for 25 years and found that women who had preterm births and a pattern of increasing blood pressure were also more likely to have greater calcium buildup in their hearts, putting them at higher risk for cardiovascular disease and heart attacks.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

A recent report from Allegheny County’s medical examiner on the number of overdose fatalities in 2017 contains both good and bad news.

For the fourth year in a row, the number of overdose deaths was the highest on record -- more than 735 people in 2017 -- but the rate of fatalities decreased in each subsequent quarter of last year.

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA

Many anti-smoking efforts are focused on cigarettes, but new research from the University of Pittsburgh suggests that more energy should be spent discouraging the use of water pipes, or hookahs.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Asthma rates among elementary school students in the Northgate School District have dropped significantly since one of the region’s top polluters ended operations in 2016, according to preliminary data.

Amy Sisk / 90.5 WESA

A group of parents from the Fox Chapel School District is concerned about how their children’s health will be affected by hydraulic fracturing in the area. 

Damian Dovarganes / AP

Black Americans are living longer lives than they were a quarter century ago.

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA

Shark Snider cut out of preschool early for an appointment with his pediatrician, Dr. Jonathan Weinkle of Squirrel Hill Health Center. The 3-year-old’s snoring had gotten worse, and his parents were worried it could be a symptom of something bigger.

UW Health/Flickr

When a parent has health insurance through Medicaid, their child is 29 percent more likely to receive an annual physical exam.

That’s according to a new study designed by a University of Pittsburgh Public Health researcher Eric T. Roberts, who calls this correlation between pediatric care and parental health insurance a "spill-over effect."

Reid Frazier / The Allegheny Front

A public health researcher delivered a dire warning on Monday during a panel on the implications of the planned Royal Dutch Shell ethane cracker plant in Beaver County.

"When we allow industry to get way out in front of public health and environmental oversight, we end up counting bodies,” said Dr. Brian Schwartz of the Geisinger Center for Health Research in Montour County.

Toby Talbot / AP

President Trump recently declared the opioid crisis a national public health emergency. It’s still unclear how much funding, if any, is tied to that declaration, but whatever resources are marshaled will likely fund work done by people most commonly thought of as fighting on the front lines of the epidemic, like social workers, addiction counselors and physicians.

County Health Rankings & Roadmaps / University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute

Rates of obesity, sexually transmitted diseases, breast cancer screenings and childhood poverty are all on the rise as Allegheny County fell in state rankings released by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

Faced with dwindling numbers of first-time blood donors, health services around the world are hoping to catch people's attention with — well, with nothing. Very carefully placed nothing.

Letters — A's, B's and O's, the letters used to identify the main blood types — are disappearing from signs and even postmark stamps.

As he takes the stage Wednesday night at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine is firmly in Hillary Clinton's camp — and his party's — on the big health care issues. Now a U.S. senator from Virginia, Kaine supports the Affordable Care Act and pushed its Medicaid expansion. He also worked to overhaul the mental health system when he was governor of Virginia.

Here are highlights and a few flashpoints of controversy from Kaine's health policy record:

Mental health

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is in the spotlight this week as the man Donald Trump has picked to be his running mate. Pence's decisions about health and health care in Indiana have drawn attention from within and outside the state. His record could be important in November, because Trump doesn't have a legislative record at all.

Here's a quick look at the governor's history in terms of health policy in Indiana.

Medicaid Expansion

Felipe Dana / AP

The University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health is stepping up its efforts to learn about the Zika virus, which has been linked to an epidemic of birth defects in Brazil and other parts of Latin America.

Alex / Flickr

Replacing sitting with light housework or a stroll may be the new recommendation for severely obese adults looking to reduce their risk of heart attack, stroke and diabetes.

That’s what a University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health-led team found after a week long study tracking 927 patients before their weight-loss surgery.

Espensorvik/Flickr

Analysis of peoples’ television watching habits and other life factors over the last 15 years has shown those who watch more television are at a greater risk of injury, particularly among people who are considered to have a “high-hostility” personality, according to a study published online by University of Pittsburgh researchers.

Lead author of the study, Anthony Fabio, assistant professor of epidemiology at Pitt Public Health, said this could come down to messaging.

The federal government has awarded nearly $3.4 million to be doled out over the next four years to the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health to establish one of 10 public health training centers across the nation with the hopes of improving national health.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) selected Pitt to create the Region 3 Center, which will provide free training sessions to public health professionals in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

Can Living Near a Fracking Site Cause Health Problems?

Sep 17, 2014
Ari Moore / Flickr

 A new study has found that residents in Western Pennsylvania living close to natural gas drilling sites were twice as likely to report health problems than those living farther away. We talk with the study's lead author Dr. Peter Rabinowitz, who says public health researchers surveyed nearly 500 adults and children in Washington County, southwest of Pittsburgh.

Improving Pittsburgh's Air Quality

Jul 30, 2014
Dane Summerville / Flickr

Pittsburgh does not have the best air quality in the nation- far from it- but ask anyone who grew up in the city before the 1950’s and they’ll tell you that it used to be much worse.

Smog blanketed the city, leading to days in which the streetlights were kept on around the clock. The era of Pittsburgh being known as “hell with the lid off” ended when Mayor David Lawrence began enforcing the Smoke Control Ordinance in the late 1940s.

Doctors and scientists are being called upon to speak at the hearings being held this week in Pittsburgh over the EPA’s new Clean Power Plan.

To asses the new plan from the health angle were Dr. Alan Lockwood of Physicians for Social Responsibility and Kevin Stewart, director of Environmental Health American Lung Association of the Mid-Atlantic.

Dr. Lockwood believed that the new regulations would be a huge step toward improving air quality.

A measles outbreak at a past Super Bowl has state officials concerned for the health of guests visiting Northern New Jersey for this year’s matchup. To contain any possible outbreaks, the New Jersey Department of Public Health has enlisted the help of a Pittsburgh company to take a proactive step against any health problems.