Kansas Department of Health and Environment

Abigail Beckman / KMUW

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment held a meeting last night in Wichita after several domestic wells near Central and Tyler were found to be contaminated by underground petroleum storage tanks leaking a chemical component of gasoline called MtBE. 

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The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) is studying two areas in west Wichita where the groundwater is thought to be contaminated with the synthetic chemical tetrachloroethylene, or PCE. The agency is holding two public information sessions on the issue next week.

kdhe.gov

Health insurance costs for state employees in Kansas will be rising again next year.

The increases vary depending on the plan, but rate hikes range from around 9 to 30 percent, with additional increases for dental and vision coverage. Rebecca Proctor, with the Kansas Organization of State Employees, says there are some state workers making around $12 to $14 an hour, so the rising costs really hit their bottom line.

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Lake Afton in western Sedgwick County is under a blue-green algae warning.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) has also issued warnings for Atchison County Park Lake in Atchison County and Overbrook City Lake in Osage County. The lakes under warning aren’t closed, but according to the KDHE, contact with the water can cause serious illness and should be avoided. Pets that swim in or drink the water, or that eat dried algae along the shore, may become seriously ill or die.

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Public health officials in Wyandotte County and Johnson County say they are seeking funds to continue comprehensive sexual education programs into 2018 after the state declined to renew a federal grant.

cdc.gov

Saline County residents peppered state and local health officials with questions about lead exposure at a public meeting Tuesday evening in Salina. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment organized the meeting after tests by local doctors this year found elevated lead levels in the blood of 32 Saline County children — most of them from Salina.

One audience member asked during the meeting whether officials were investigating the Exide Technologies plant on Salina’s southern edge, where batteries are manufactured.

Elana Gordon / KCUR

Kansas has “reconsidered” its decision to terminate the participation of 11 Planned Parenthood physicians and other medical providers in the state’s Medicaid program, although it’s still trying to cut off Planned Parenthood itself.

Kansas Department of Health and Environment

State health officials have released warnings about two lakes in south central Kansas because of high levels of toxic blue-green algae. Blooms have been found in Cheney Lake and in Marion Reservoir.

According to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, both lakes are still open, but contact with the water is strongly discouraged for people, pets and livestock. Ashton Rucker with the KDHE says blue-green algae can take on a variety of different appearances.

cdc.gov

Health officials are planning a public information session in Salina later this month in response to the discovery that 30 children in Saline County have elevated levels of lead in their blood.

Saline County Health Department Director Jason Tiller says the problem surfaced after several families had their children tested for lead. Anyone with more than five micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood is considered at risk.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

Update from the AP:

The Obama administration is telling public schools that they must allow transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity.

The directive is in formal guidance being sent to school districts Friday by the departments of Education and Justice.

The letter does not impose any new legal requirements, but federal officials say the guidance is meant to clarify school districts’ obligations to provide students with nondiscriminatory environments.

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