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Plant Scherer in operation at Juliette, Ga.
Gene Blythe / Associated Press

Georgia Power has found evidence that chemicals have leaked into groundwater at three of its coal-fired power plants. The utility found arsenic at plants near Rome and on the Savannah River, and it found beryllium and selenium at a plant near Newnan.

Fulton County officials have unveiled dozens of new proposals as part of an “action plan” to ultimately end new transmissions of HIV and AIDS, including one that could butt up against a state law.

Piedmont, United Deadlocked Despite Looming Deadline

Jun 23, 2016
Piedmont Hospital
Al Such / WABE

Around 150,000 Piedmont Healthcare patients could soon find their doctors are no longer in their network if the hospital system fails to reach an agreement with insurer UnitedHealthcare by next week.

In a letter to patients last week, Ronnie Brownsworth, who leads the Piedmont Clinic, warned United plan holders that the network would likely no longer accept the insurer’s commercial plans come July because negotiations for a new contract had stalled.

courtesy of VOX

As a teen, I can tell you that parents and dating don’t go hand-in-hand but — what if you were in an abusive relationship? Can it happen to you? What would your parents say? Would they actually help or make it even worse?

Jaime Henry-White / Associated Press

Since last July, more than 10,000 Georgia Power customers inquired about having solar panels installed on their roofs.

Of the thousands who completed a self-assessment form on its website, 800 opted to have Georgia Power "solar energy experts" call them back to talk through the process and the pricing.

Faisal Quyyumi / WABE

This summer, a converted school bus is making stops in low-income communities in DeKalb County to sell fresh produce. It's a program that's been up and running for two years from the county government and the University of Georgia Extension in DeKalb.           

Edda Cotto-Rivera, who was staffing the bus on Friday, said it's not only about food, it's also about education.

The Red Cross blood donation center in midtown Atlanta.
Tasnim Shamma / WABE

The mass shooting at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, has heightened the debate on who can donate blood, and some Atlantans say they’d like to see the ban on gay men lifted.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration currently doesn’t accept donations from men who've had sex with another man within the past year because it says it’s to reduce the risk of transmitting HIV.

Toby Talbot / Associated Press

Accidental overdoses aren't the only deadly risk from using powerful prescription painkillers — the drugs may also contribute to heart-related deaths and other fatalities, new research suggests.

Among more than 45,000 patients in the study, those using opioid painkillers had a 64 percent higher risk of dying within six months of starting treatment compared to patients taking other prescription pain medicine. Unintentional overdoses accounted for about 18 percent of the deaths among opioid users, versus 8 percent of the other patients.

By Craig ONeal [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Parks and natural areas can be like islands for wildlife, surrounded by rivers of roads or seas of development. And as the climate changes and temperatures rise, those islands are changing, too.

Plants and animals will need to move in order to keep living in the conditions they evolved to live in. And to do that, they’ll need to be able to island-hop to higher elevations or higher latitudes. Doable for birds, perhaps, or seeds that travel on the wind. Tougher for, say, a gopher tortoise.

Khalil Senosi / Associated Press

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine is releasing for the first time guidelines for how much shut-eye kids should be getting.

But the group is telling parents not to lose too much sleep themselves over those recommendations.

The guidelines released Monday encompass recommendations the American Academy of Pediatrics has made at different times for different ages. And they're based on a review of scientific evidence on sleep duration and health.

National Oceanic Atmospheric Association

More than 50 U.S. Congressmen are asking President Barack Obama not to allow oil and gas exploration in the Atlantic Ocean off the coasts of southern and mid-Atlantic states. The letter was signed by 55 Democrats and Republicans, including two Georgia Democrats, Reps. John Lewis and Hank Johnson.

Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press

The 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, doesn't need to be postponed or moved because of the Zika virus, according to Dr. Tom Frieden, the director of the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Frieden said there’s no public health reason to change the Olympic venue because of the disease that in some cases harms the newborns of infected mothers.

Still, Frieden and the CDC recommend pregnant women don't go to the Olympics.

In this June 13, 2014, file photo, construction continues on a new nuclear reactor at Plant Vogtle power plant in Waynesboro, Georgia. An analyst for the Public Service Commission, Steven Roetger, said the timeline for finishing two nuclear reactors at Pl
John Bazemore, File / Associated Press

Georgia Power says it doesn’t see why the nuclear reactors that are under construction at Plant Vogtle shouldn’t open on schedule, but does say that schedule is tough.

And that’s an updated schedule, since one of the new units was originally intended to be up-and-running by this year. Now, Georgia Power hopes to finish one of the new reactors by June 2019, and the other by June 2020. The company announced that plan last year.

At a hearing Tuesday at the Public Service Commission, Georgia Power said that new timeline is "a great challenge."

Jordan Strauss / Invision/AP, File

Would U.S. teens be any slimmer if Katy Perry hawked kale and quinoa?

New research doesn't prove a link, but its authors think music stars popular with teens may be contributing to the obesity epidemic by endorsing fatty fast food, snacks and soda.

The study shows that 20 of the hottest teen-music heartthrobs have done TV ads or other promotions for products nutritionists consider unhealthy. Included were videos of company-sponsored concerts.

Allison Guillory / WABE

Among the countless Georgians who find themselves addicted to prescription painkillers and heroin are women who are pregnant.

Babies who are exposed in utero to these kinds of drugs, along with other licit and illicit substances, can become dependent on them and experience withdrawal symptoms after birth. The medical condition is known as Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, or NAS.

As of the beginning of this year, Georgia’s Department of Public Health made NAS a required reportable condition and began tracking cases.  

A government report shows teen pregnancies fell again last year, to another historic low.

Brady Hamilton, the lead author of the new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said "the continued decline is really quite amazing."

Last year, the birth rate for U.S. teens dropped 8 percent. Rates have been falling since 1991, and this marks yet another new low.

Experts cite a range of factors, including less sex, positive peer influence and more consistent use of birth control.

Alison Guillory / WABE

To Rick Allen, the way Georgia currently monitors prescriptions for drugs like hydrocodone or oxycodone has some problems.

“I have been threatened numerous times with going to jail, contempt of court,” said Allen, who leads the Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency.

Cristian Chavez jumps into Lake Lanier while swimming with friends off Longwood Park, Monday, June 8, 2015, in Gainesville, Ga.
David Goldman / AP Photo

Despite the storms this week, it's been abnormally dry in North Georgia the past month, and most of the Atlanta area is experiencing moderate drought conditions, according the U.S. Drought Monitor. But that doesn't necessarily mean we're in a drought.

Al Behrman / associated press file

The Obama administration is pressuring the food industry to make foods from breads to sliced turkey less salty, proposing long-awaited sodium guidelines in an effort to prevent thousands of deaths each year from heart disease and stroke.

The proposed guidelines released Wednesday are voluntary, so food companies won't be required to comply, and it could be a year or more before they are final. But the idea is to persuade companies and restaurants — many of which have already lowered sodium levels in their products — to take a more consistent approach.

Demand for long-term care is expected to increase as the nation ages, but the majority of Americans 40 and older lack confidence in their ability to pay for it.

The annual cost of long-term care expenses range from $17,680 for adult day care to more than $92,000 for a private room in a nursing home, according to Genworth Financial.

Michell Eloy / WABE

Zac Talbott sees the irony of running an opioid treatment program in an old doctor’s office.

“The funny thing is, a lot of patients are like, ‘This is where I first started getting prescribed pain pills,’” Talbott says, chuckling.

Now, the Tennessee native says the same people are coming to his clinic in Chatsworth, Georgia, a small city about a half-hour south of the Tennessee border, to fight their addiction to those very pills.

Andre Penner / Associated Press

The Georgia Department of Public Health has confirmed the first sexually transmitted case of the Zika virus in the state.

According to a press release from the DPH, the woman, who had not traveled out of the U.S., had been infected. Her partner, who had traveled to Brazil earlier this year, was among Georgia's confirmed travel-related cases of the virus.

Both she and her partner have now recovered from the virus, the release said.

smoker cigarettes
Rich Pedroncelli,File / Associated Press

The smoking rate among U.S. adults has been falling steadily for decades but the latest survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds the 2015 decline is the biggest in more than 20 years.

The government report says the rate of smoking among adults in the U.S. fell two percent, to 15 percent last year, from 17 percent in 2014.

The usual decline is 1 point or less in a year and it's not clear why last year was different.

michelle obama food labels
Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press

Nutrition facts labels on food packages are getting a long-awaited makeover, with calories listed in bigger, bolder type and a new line for added sugars.

And serving sizes will be updated to make them more realistic — so that a small bag of chips won't count as two or three servings, for example.

Georgia's system of care for the developmentally disabled will remain under federal watch.

Six years ago, Georgia entered into an agreement to resolve a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice.

It called for transferring roughly 500 people with developmental issues out of state-run mental hospitals and into community housing by 2015.

But Georgia missed that deadline.

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter delivers a lecture on the eradication of the Guinea worm, at the House of Lords in London, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016.
Neil Hall/Pool Photo via AP

A new kind of drug for the deadliest form of skin cancer helped some patients survive for at least three years, a study shows. It's a remarkable advance for patients who until recently faced dismal chances of living for more than a few months.

About 40 percent of melanoma patients in the study were still alive three years later. The drug, which targets the immune system, was used to treat former President Jimmy Carter, who was diagnosed with melanoma that had spread to his brain.

Wilbert Baan / www.flickr.com/wilbertbaan/cropped

Earth's heat is stuck on high.

Thanks to a combination of global warming and an El Nino, the planet shattered monthly heat records for an unprecedented 12th straight month, as April smashed the old record by half a degree, according to federal scientists.

Georgia's financial reserves for its State Health Benefit Plan, which is used to cover roughly 650,000 state employees and teachers, was taken by officials to balance the budget during the Great Recession.

Now the plan faces a a projected $55 million deficit within two to three years.

That's why the Department of Community Health is looking for ways to address upcoming money woes.

Almost half of all heart attacks cause no obvious symptoms, yet they can still be life-threatening, according to research on more than 9,000 middle-aged men and women.

It's one of the biggest studies to examine so-called silent heart attacks, and to also explore them across racial and gender groups.

Researchers at Wake Forest University's medical school led the government-funded study. Results were published online Monday in the American Heart Association's journal, Circulation.

THE DETAILS

Garry Knight / flickr.com/garryknight

Grandma's cholesterol is OK, but maybe the doctor should be asking about her social life, too.

Think about health during the senior years, and a list of common ailments pops to mind. But that's not the whole story. New research suggests factors such as loneliness and whether they've broken any bones since middle age also play a role in the well-being of older adults.

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