Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment (CDPHE)

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The suicide of nine-year-old Jamel Myles has put a spotlight on the growing number of youth suicides. Myles was a Denver elementary school student who had just started a new year of classes. His mother told The Denver Post he recently came out as gay and was being bullied at school.

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Since Colorado voters legalized recreational marijuana use in 2012, the state Department of Public Health and Environment has been studying pot use in youth and adults. According to the recently released 2017 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, one in five youth use marijuana. But the state’s chief toxicologist, Matt Van Dyke, says teens think their peers are using pot a lot more than they actually are.

Leigh Paterson

Across the county, in areas like north Texas, western Pennsylvania and in the suburbs and towns north of Denver, communities are becoming industrialized, dotted with oil and gas wells, laced with pipelines. People in these communities are living with the potential risks that comes from living close to oil and gas development.

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The teen pregnancy rate in the United States has been in decline for years-- but it’s dramatically decreased in Colorado. That’s mostly due to the availability of long acting and reversible birth control options, says a new report.

Colorado received a private donation from the Susan Buffet Foundation in 2008 to provide IUDs and birth control implants to women at low or no cost. Since then, the state’s teen birth and abortion rates have dropped by 50 percent.

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The opioid epidemic is affecting more and more Coloradoans every year, including the youngest members of our communities: babies.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said the number of Colorado newborns born addicted to opioids jumped 83 percent from 2010 to 2015. The rate climbed from two births out of 1,000 to 3.6 births in during that five-year period.

Stephanie Paige Ogburn / KUNC

A group of Greeley residents are suing state officials over drilling regulations known as “setbacks.” State regulations require oil and gas sites to be 1,000 feet away from structures like schools and 500 feet from residences.

Stephanie Paige Ogburn / KUNC

Boulder County will resume issuing oil and gas drilling permits May 1, 2017, after a series of moratoriums halted the practice in 2012. Denver- based energy company Crestone Peak Resources has filed the first application in five years to drill within unincorporated parts of the county. The company is the fifth largest producer in the Denver-Julesburg basin – an oil and gas-rich formation situated under much of Northeastern Colorado and portions of Boulder County.

KUNC File Photo

With its moratorium on new drilling permits set to expire in a few weeks, Boulder County commissioners unanimously passed new oil and gas regulations. The county calls them the “most restrictive” of such regulations in Colorado. They are about 60 pages and require a much higher environmental and public health standard than the state. Boulder County began the new rule process following two state Supreme Court decisions in 2016 that invalidated hydraulic fracturing bans or long term moratoriums.

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In an effort to reduce drug addiction, Colorado will expand drop-off locations for the disposal of prescription drugs.

Data shows most people who abuse prescription drugs get them from a family member or friend, said Gregg Fabisiak, a coordinator with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

“We really believe that if people rid their homes of the medications that they no longer need, it’ll reduce the supply of those drugs that are obtained illicitly,” he said.

How Are Nitrates Ending Up In Drinking Water Supplies?

Sep 19, 2016
Luke Runyon / KUNC/Harvest Public Media

Contaminated drinking water isn’t just a problem for Flint, Michigan. Many towns and cities across the Midwest and Great Plains face pollution seeping into their water supplies. A big part of the problem: farming and ranching.

Farmers spread nitrogen- and phosphorous-based fertilizers on their fields to help their crops grow. Excess nutrients, though, can leach into groundwater or seep into rivers, creeks, canals or ditches that eventually feed into the Mississippi River. In high concentrations, these chemical compounds damage aquatic life and burden small towns that have to remove them from their water supply.

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