Health & Environment | Prairie Public Broadcasting

Health & Environment

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

North Dakota’s coal reclamation and abandoned mine programs are again getting high marks from the federal Office of Surface Mining.

The programs are part of the state Public Service Commission. OSM called the programs “very effective” – and said North Dakota does well with a small staff.

"We're able to get the coal out and put the land back, in a really effective way," said Commissioner Julie Fedorchak. She said this is by design.

The president of the North Dakota Farmers Union is concerned about depression – and suicide – in farm country.

Mark Watne said he’s been talking to a number of groups – including NDSU Extension – about the issue. Watne said low commodity prices, coupled with what he called a “challenging” harvest and trade disputes, have been having an impact on farmers’ attitudes.

Medical marijuana dispensaries have been selected for Bismarck and Fargo.

The state Health Department said Harvest of Bismarck and Acreage North Dakota of Fargo will now be registering as dispensaries.  State law says as many as 8 dispensaries will be chosen. The application period for the Grand Forks and Williston regions is open until October 10th, and the others will be open for applications in January.


UND, NDSU, the University of South Dakota and a consortium of hospitals in the Dakotas have received a $20.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.

The grant is to help counter high rates of certain cancers in this region. It is a 5-year grant.

UND medical school associate dean Marc Basson is the principal investigator for the grant. He said it was important to have the hospitals be a part of this – because there often is a gap between research and how it translates to patient care.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

North Dakota’s pharmacists are getting involved in screening patients for potential opioid abuse or overdose.

NDSU’s Pharmacy School and the state Pharmacists Association have rolled out what is being called “One RX.” The “One” stands for Opioid and Nalaxone Education.

The new program will give pharmacists a screening tool – a form, for patients to fill out, that will allow them to assess a patient’s potential to misuse or overdose on prescription opioids.

Cases of West Nile Virus increasing in ND

Aug 9, 2018

The North Dakota Health Department is reporting a steep rise in the number of reported West Nile Virus cases over the past week.

"We're actually up to 18 human cases," said epidemiologist Jenny Galbraith. "That's a 14 case increase from the previous week."

Galbraith said three people have been hospitalized so far with the virus. She said the cases are spread across the state.

North Dakota’s Agriculture Department says it has already received 43 responses to a survey of North Dakota farmers who may have seen crop damage from the herbicide dicamba.

The herbicide is to be used only on resistant crops. But damage from drift has been reported.

The 43 responses involve 20,500 acres of cropland. There have been 41 formal complaints.

The North Dakota Game and Fish department is encouraging anglers to keep fish caught in depths over 25 feet, instead of practicing “catch-and-release.”

"When you catch fish from deeper water, as you bring them up, it's like when a diver gets the bends," said Fisheries Management section leader Scott Gangl. "The change in air pressure could really affect those fish."

Gangl said while some fish could survive, many fish won't.

"Anglers need to be aware of that," Gangl said.

The change in pressure will cause a fish’s swim bladder to expand.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

You can’t blame Lincoln Mayor Gerald Wise if he feels a little unlucky with the city’s water supply.

The recent “boil order” issued after E. coli was found in one home was the latest in a series of unfortunate incidents. One incident happened this past winter.

"We had a power outage up by our tanks, which caused a miscommunication between the tanks and the pump system," Wise said. "It basically told the pumps the tank was empty."

A quick check showed that was not the case.

North Dakota’s Game and Fish Department will participate in a national effort this upcoming weekend to make people aware of the dangers of boating under the influence.

It’s called “Operation Dry Water.”

"Because we don't have any additional manpower, per se, to add to the weekend, we just make sure that those officers that are working have their focus primarily on boat and water safety and getting the boat drivers that are impaired off the water," said Game and Fish enforcement operations supervisor Jackie Lundstrom.