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Nebraska Public Media

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Stay up-to-date with daily news and features on a wide variety of topics that affect Lincoln, Omaha, and all of Nebraska.

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862 episodes

Norfolk Case Highlights Post-Roe Privacy, Abortion Issues

A Norfolk, Nebraska abortion case highlights law enforcement's access to online messages and suggests future litigation over state regulation of abortion medication.

2m
Aug 11
AT&T FirstNet Pitches Communication Service to Winnebago Tribe

At the most recent Winnebago Tribal Council meeting, representatives from AT&T's FirstNet service presented to the council about their wireless 5G network for first responders

59s
Aug 11
Rail unions and carriers are running out of time to avoid strike

Freight rail workers are threatening to strike pending ongoing contract negotiations with the carriers they work with. Nebraska Public Media News reports on what’s at stake for the roughly 116,000 workers and for consumers across the country.

4m
Aug 11
In a twist, an Omaha utility could keep burning coal

Plans to stop burning coal next year at the North Omaha Station, a chief supplier of electricity to the region, likely won’t happen on schedule. Instead, the Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) wants North Omaha Station, one of the country’s top emitters of nitrogen oxide and sulfur oxide, to keep operating until 2026. OPPD said the delayed closure was unavoidable but disappointed those who expected the utility to make good on a pledge to stop burning coal at North Omaha Station by the end of 2023.

46s
Aug 11
Nebraska Researchers Create Aronia Berry Startup

New startup aims to build a healthy and sustainable industry using Aronia Berries.

1m
Aug 09
Omaha Study Examines Heat Differences in City

A study spearheaded by the University of Nebraska Medical Center is looking at how different areas of Omaha are affected by hot weather.

4m
Aug 09
Summer nights are heating up — that’s bad for crops and animals

Climate experts say summer nights have gotten warmer. One study found the average minimum temperature in the United States has gotten warmer by 2.5 degrees over the last 50 years. For farmers, this means crops and livestock could suffer.

41s
Aug 09
Nebraska researchers use plants to stymie lead exposure

In parts of the Midwest where lead mining and smelting lasted for over a century, communities are still dealing with toxic waste left behind by the industry. Lead, a dangerous neurotoxin, persists in the environment, including in water and soil, where it can pose a threat to the health of people living nearby. The risk is especially acute for children, who can unintentionally ingest lead by putting their hands in their mouths and whose brains and bodies are still developing. It can be spread to other areas, like yards and schools, by rainfall, and can also taint aquifers or vegetables in gardens, making them harmful to consume. Now researchers are working to limit the impact of lead in the environment on people, and they believe they’ve found a promising solution: Plant life.

49s
Aug 09
Ricketts Won't Call Special Session on Abortion

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts said he would not call a special legislative session on abortion because there is not enough support to overcome a filibuster.

1m
Aug 08
Nebraska DPAA Office Hosts Colombian Forensic Scientists

9 forensic scientists from Colombia will receive training at the DPAA office at the Offutt Air Force Base. They hope to bring what they learned back to Colombia to assist in their work of identifying human remains

1m
Aug 08
Wheat Harvest Challenged by Nebraska's Dry Conditions

Nebraska's harsh weather conditions have created a large setback in the state's wheat harvest.

51s
Aug 08
Bryan Health Sponsors Training for HS Athletic Trainers

Over 50 high school athletic trainers and emergency personnel attended a heat illness and fall sports safety training session on Friday. The training session went over heat illness procedures and other athletic safety heading into the fall sports season

54s
Aug 05
UNL Not Requiring Masks or COVID-19 Testing for the Fall Semeste

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln releases their COVID-19 plan for the school semester as Lancaster County's risk dial remains at High.

1m
Aug 05
When it comes to chemical fertilizer – less is more, study says

Farmers can use far less chemical fertilizer — which can be expensive and harmful to the environment — and maintain high crop yields, according to a new study.

45s
Aug 05
What a Midwest ‘ghost story’ says about abortion restrictions

Missouri residents may have heard ghoulish tales of “Doc Annie” Smith, a physician who looms large in the state’s mythology for performing illegal abortions in the early 1900s. Today, the truth about her work has largely disappeared.

4m
Aug 05
Abortion Opponent calls chances of Special Session "Remote"

One opponent of abortion says chances of a special session to restrict the procedure in Nebraska are "remote."

2m
Aug 04
Omaha FBI Holds Diversity Agent Recruitment Event

The Omaha FBI field office held a Diversity Agent Recruitment event on Wednesday night, aimed at attracting potential new agents from diverse backgrounds. The event had 40 attendees and was a success, according to the Omaha FBI

55s
Aug 04
G.I Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Tawana Grover

Grand Island Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Tawana Grover Speaks to Nebraska Public Media about the challenges of the upcoming school year, including: teacher shortages, trans rights and an ongoing pandemic

4m
Aug 04
A Major Loss: Family Visits Home Destroyed in Carter Canyon Fire

The Ewing Family lost the home and ranch that had been in the family for generations.

4m
Aug 03
Great Progress Made in Carter Canyon Firefighting Effort

Firefighters have made great progress in containing the Carter Canyon fire that began from a Saturday evening lightning strike. Public information officer Benjamin Bohall said the effort will soon be turned over to the Gering Fire Department

54s
Aug 03
Fight Continues over Initiative Signature Requirement

The legal fight over Nebraska's signature distribution requirement for initiative petitions is continuing.

1m
Aug 03
On The Frontlines: Battling The Carter Canyon Wildfire

Nebraska Public Media's Bill Kelly reports from Gering on efforts to contain the wildlfire.

1m
Aug 02
ARPA-Funded EduTech Aims to Provide Skills for Entry Tech Jobs

A Lincoln nonprofit kicked off its first ever technology classes on Friday, targeted to help those who are changing careers or who simply need help developing skills to find jobs. Hosted by the Center for People in Need, EduTech is free for its students. It’s funded by the $600,000 share the city of Lincoln received from the American Rescue Plan Act.

1m
Aug 01
Vets Official Criticizes Burn Pit Vote; Senators Expect Passage

The leader of a Nebraska veterans' organization criticized the failure of burn pit legislation in the Senate, but Nebraska's senators expect it will pass.

1m
Jul 29
Once a bipartisan issue, how conservation became controversial

Conservation has been a popular part of agriculture for decades. But it’s become controversial since the Biden administration announced a national conservation goal. Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts has spearheaded a movement that likens conservation to government control.

4m
Jul 29
Interest Rate Hikes Have Cooled Nebraska Housing Market

Rising interest rates and a falling GDP have cooled the Nebraska housing market, but it's still healthy, says state Realtors president.

1m
Jul 28
Lincoln Police Concerned About Viral "KIA BOYZ" Tik Tok Trend

Two teenagers attempted to steal a 2013 Hyundai Tuesday evening while filming themselves for Tik Tok.

1m
Jul 28
Nebraska-based COVID lab under investigation for deficient tests

Nebraska-based GS Labs failed to deliver COVID-19 tests on time despite advertising a fast and reliable product. According to a Minnesota Public Radio report, the Omaha company is under investigation from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid.

1m
Jul 28
Omaha Casino Breaks Ground; Could Open as Soon as Spring 2023

Ho-Chunk Incorporated officially expanded to Omaha on Wednesday. It broke ground on a similar racetrack - casino or “racino” in Lincoln in early July. CEO Lance Morgan said that the new casino in Omaha will employ more than 1,000 employees and bring in over $100,000 in revenue in the first year.

1m
Jul 27
Vintage goods may look chic, but many are toxic

BYLINE: Niara Savage and Samantha Horton — A vintage military-style trunk she bought at an eastern Michigan flea market when she was a teenager became a staple of Jennifer Poupard's life. Poupard, now 37, originally bought it to store her CDs. Over the years the trunk — styled with leather handles and metal buckles — served as a container for shoes, a coffee table and as a resting place for a record player. When her child, Wallace, was born in 2013, it was put to a new use. “[Wallace] would pull the stand at that trunk and turn around and run to me,” Poupard said. “And that is around when I noticed the numbers going up.” The numbers that went up were Wallace's blood lead levels. Poupard was participating in the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program -in Chicago at that time, which required Wallace to receive regular blood lead tests. In 2014, Wallace’s 18-month lead check came back as 5.3 micrograms per deciliter. At the time, the Centers for Disease Control’s reference level was 5 micrograms per deciliter. The CDC lowered that threshold to 3.5 in October 2021. After consulting with other moms in an online Facebook group, Poupard began to believe her beloved heirloom may have been the culprit. The Missouri Independent and NPR's Midwest Newsroom are collaborating to explore the issue of high levels of lead in children in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. Vintage products purchased at thrift stores or antique shops were often made decades ago – long before current federal regulations on toxic substances went into effect. Lead paint is regularly found in vintage items more than 40 years old. But the sale of vintage items containing lead paint isn’t regulated, and many buyers aren’t aware of the threat the neurotoxin poses when bringing second-hand finds into their homes. ‘No normal level of lead’ Lead paint and lead pipes are cited as the top risks of lead exposure to children. Poisoning from consumer goods and antiques is rare. Still, state health department websites for Missouri, Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska warn about the dangers of lead in hand-me-down furniture and old ceramics and antique toys. [Lead product recalls chart] Elevated blood lead levels in children are typically discovered through routine screenings, not because the child showed signs of poisoning, said Dr. Denise Hooks-Anderson, a family physician who previously practiced in St. Louis for 10 years. Symptoms of lead poisoning include abdominal pain, constipation, fatigue, and maybe headaches, Hooks-Anderson said. And even if there are no immediate symptoms to warn parents and doctors, the long-term consequences of lead exposure for children can be severe. “One of the most dangerous misconceptions about lead is that levels have to be really high to cause damage,” Hooks-Anderson said. “There is no normal level of lead. Having any lead in our blood is abnormal.” In a 2010 study researchers with Oregon State University, the State University of New York and the University of California-Berkeley purchased used items from second-hand and antique stores. They found that leaded items could be purchased at each of the stores they visited in Virginia, New York and Oregon, and that 19 of the 28 purchased items violated the 1978 federal standard banning the use of residential paint containing greater than 600 parts per million lead. The most toxic item researchers tested was a salt shaker lid containing 714 times that limit. Researchers agreed, at the time, that it would likely be impossible to regulate the sale of second-hand items at antique stores and flea markets and that children should not be allowed to come into contact with items purchased from an unregulated seller. Concerned about where the lead was coming from, Poupard sought answers online. That's where she found Tamara Rubin, an activist for consumer goods safety with a large online community. Rubin founded Lead Safe Mama LLC in 2016 to formally continue the work she’d started in 2008 educating the public about lead hazards after her own children were poisoned. She estimates she interacts with up to 100 people a day, answering questions and providing resources. About “90% of my readership is moms,” Rubin said, “Moms and grandmas.” In Rubin’s private Facebook group of more than 18,000 members, parents seek support and advice from one another about experiences involving lead poisoning or childrens’ exposure to leaded items. Rubin sent Poupard 3M swabs to test items in her home for lead, as she’s done for countless other families. “And I tested the trunk. And that was positive, like immediately bright red on the swab,” Poupard said. That’s when she recalled the first summer she had the trunk, when her health had taken a temporary turn for the worse around the same time that she was using a metal scraper and wire brush to strip off the green paint on the trunk. It's unlikely the trunk was the only thing contributing to Wallace's lead levels in the older apartment. But Poupard immediately covered it with a sheet to limit Wallace's exposure. But given its size, it took years for her to finally get the trunk out of their lives. And when she was finally able to get rid of it, she wanted to make sure on one else would bring it into their home. “I wrote with permanent marker all over it like in huge letters lead paint on all the sides and inside,” Poupard said. “And I timed it for when the garbage truck should be coming that day or the next day. Building materials like doors, window sashes and decorative items from before 1978 are particularly risky, said Dr. Kandace Fisher-McLean, a professor with the University of Missouri Extension and Coordinator for the National Healthy Homes Partnership. Vintage dishware, ceramic items, silverware, jewelry, toys and furniture are also more likely to contain lead. But there isn’t a reliable way for a person to assess whether an older object is a lead hazard. “You can certainly use that age marker, as a general sort of rule of thumb,” Fisher-McLean said. “But with all of the items that are on the market, and all of the ways that and means that people could obtain these items, from antique stores, to flea markets, to thrift stores to garage sales, there was absolutely absolutely no way to regulate all of the things that are already on the market.” Lead has to get inside the body to be dangerous, and children are most vulnerable, Fisher-McLean said. “Children are naturally curious, and they put their hands in their mouth. They touch lots of things, then they put their hands in their mouth.” As a good rule of thumb, “don't purchase vintage toys for your children to play with,” Fisher-McLean cautions. Vintage dishes can be especially risky as they’re exposed to heat and light over time, leading to the production of lead dust that poses a danger if ingested or inhaled, Fisher-McLean said. When 15 children and adults tested positive for elevated blood lead levels tied to the use of ceramic ware last year, the New York Health Department issued a warning about purchasing or using traditional ceramic ware from flea markets, street vendors or places where it’s difficult to determine the manufacturer or how the product was made. At the Chesterfield Antique Mall in St. Louis County, Missouri, a vintage 1940s dish set is on display and for sale. “A piece like that might be beautiful to hang on your wall or to put in a china cabinet,” Fisher-McLean said. “But certainly, it's not something that you want to be eating off of.” Goodwill of Western Missouri and Eastern Kansas declined to comment on policies regarding the sale of damaged or vintage dishes and toys. Discount store items Even new items can pose threats of lead exposure. Discount stores including Dollar General, Family Dollar and Dollar Tree offer thousands of products at low prices, from essential items to kids’ toys. With hundreds of discount stores across Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri, people can come to rely on these retailers — especially when they might be the only options within a short distance from home. Campaign for Healthier Solutions, a nonprofit that works to reduce lead and other toxic elements in items purchased at discount stores, has conducted studies over the years on the lead levels in things like tablecloths, jewelry and toys sold at discount stores. [Bargain stores, poor tracts scatter plot] Its most recent study found that of 226 items tested, the level with toxic chemicals, including lead, dropped from 81% in 2015 to 53% in 2022. While the lead levels were improved, lead soldering in toys and headphones targeted towards children were found to have high levels of the toxic metal. The group wants discount stores to demand manufacturers produce products with no lead, said José Bravo, national coordinator for the Campaign for Healthier Solutions. “Lead is such an easy lift for stores or retailers to go upstream to their suppliers and say, ‘Guess what? No lead is safe lead, right,’” he said. Bravo said the reduction in the number of items being found with toxins is progressing. Along with the report, one of his organization’s efforts is communicating with each company’s executives to update their policies to expand the restricted substance list. But the lists are only being applied to the store labeled products, meaning more work needs to be done so it applies to everything sold. Dollar Tree’s corporate spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment. The federal Consumer Goods Protection Agency sets standards for tolerable amounts of lead in products. So far this year six products have been recalled for exceeding a lead concentration of 90 parts per million in children's products. Bravo said leaving it up to regulators isn't always enough. “Most often enough, people would say, ‘Well, yeah, you know, the EPA, or the Food Drug Administration, or somebody is safeguarding our health when it comes to them.’ That's no

4m
Jul 27