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GM recalls thousands of cars

Honda recently recalled millions of their cars after discovering defective airbags in some on their models. This caused major safety concerns across America.  Now, another company has joined in recalling their vehicles just weeks after Honda. GM is recalling 200,000 older model Hummers, a majority being in America.

The recall comes after a problem was found in the connector module that controls the speed of air blown out of the air conditioning, causing it to overheat and catch fire.  This lead to 42 official reports of fires in Hummers, three of which caused burns to people.  None of the three were seriously injured but two of the Hummers were destroyed from the fires. The models being recalled include 2006-10 Hummer H3’s and 2009-10 Hummer H3T SUV’s.  Dealers are offering to replace the affected portion of the connector and harness.  GM is also recalling thousands of 2014-15 Chevrolet Sparks and Sonics because of a radio glitch. The glitch occurs when people use the OnStar system on the car, causing the computer screen to go blank and unable to warn drivers of potential safety hazards. GM reports it is doing all it can to help consumers who are being affected by the recall.

No crashes or fatalities have been reported due to the malfunctions.  Production of Hummers were ended in 2010.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of PCB Exposure?

The United States federal government imposed a ban on polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs in 1979. This nationwide ban came as a solution for the contamination and pollution caused by Monsanto, who was solely responsible for producing PCBs in the U.S. from the 1930s until the late 1970s.While PCBs had numerous utilitarian benefits, it soon came to light that PCBs are harmful to both human health and the environment. In fact, toxic Monsanto PCBs have been classified as probable human carcinogens and were found to have devastating ecological effects. According to scientific research conducted in the years since its ban, prolonged PCB exposure can be extremely harmful and dangerous.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, cancer isn’t the only health risk associated with PCB exposure. PCBs have also been found to cause issues and complications in the immune, reproductive, nervous, and endocrine systems, as well as liver damage and high blood pressure. These outcomes usually result from chronic or continuous exposure over a significant period of time. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, symptoms of chronic PCB exposure are not overt and will usually develop over time. Some signs at risk individuals can watch out for include abdominal pain, jaundice, anorexia, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, and uroporphyria.

On the other hand, signs and symptoms of acute or single, high-level exposure are a lot more evident. The most telling sign of acute PCB exposure is the development of an acne-like skin condition called chloracne. This condition shares several characteristics with normal adolescent acne, but it usually features more distinctive cystic skin lesions that may appear in the arms, back, face, legs, neck, and truck at any age. The Mount Sinai School of Medicine also points out that acute exposure might also lead to vomiting and respiratory issues. On the other hand, chronic PCB exposure can also be evident through the darkening of skin and nails over time.

Jet Lag No More

shutterstock_129132983A drug developed by researchers at McGill University and Douglas Mental Health University in Canada may just put jet lag and microsleep problems to rest. This is great news for frequent travelers to other time zones and those who regularly work the night shift.

People depend on their body’s circadian rhythms to tell them when and how much they need to sleep to keep healthy, but this internal “clock” can get out of whack when it isn’t in sync with a new time zone (hence jet lag) or atypical work hours i.e. graveyard shift. A circadian rhythm basically regulates bodily functions (including sleep) within a 24 hour period, which is in turn affected by sensory input. When we see daylight when our body says it is nighttime, the circadian rhythm is disrupted and we are unable to adjust quickly. Long-term circadian rhythm asynchronicity can wreak havoc on a person’s health, causing increases stress, decreased cognitive abilities, obesity, and persistent health problems.

The drug is designed to alter white blood cells that contain these “clocks” to fool the brain into thinking that night is day and vice versa. It contains glucocorticoid, a steroid-based compound that appears to be effective in resetting the signals sent by the body clock to the brain.

The drug is currently undergoing clinical trials and is not yet available to the public, but is has already been successfully tested on 16 people. The study was published in the the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB).

Personal Injury Lawsuits: Even Kids are Doing it Now

Gone are the days when kids could roughhouse without bringing the legal system into it, but a New Jersey court is attempting to give it some context.

The case revolved around a sports injury sustained by a 12-year-old boy playing lacrosse. His arm was broken when an 11-year-old player crashed into him, and the family of the injured player sued the 11-year-old for it. It was the first case of child-on-child sports injury, and the court ruling set a precedent for similar future cases in the state.

According to the court, the plaintiff had to show that the defendant (the 11-year-old) acted in an unreasonably reckless way out of keeping with the activity they were engaged in. Some aggressive behavior is expected in a team sport like lacrosse, so the operative word here is reasonable conduct.

Furthermore, the judge considered that child-on-child sports injuries could not be judged on the same basis as when adults (in sports) are concerned. In the court’s opinion, it would be “be unfair to hold children who engage in such sporting activities to the same expectations and standards of conduct as adult athletes.”

The court ruled that the family of the injured lacrosse player had no grounds to sue the 11-year-old because his conduct was not found to be unreasonably reckless. That is a distinct relief for all young players who may hesitate to participate in sports with the risk of personal injury liability hanging over their heads.

Dying with Dignity: The Case of Brittany Maynard

There are currently three states in the U.S. that have some form of physician-assisted suicide law: Oregon, Washington, and Texas. In each of these states, the parameters of legal euthanasia is strictly observed, almost invariably applying to people who face medical conditions that will only get progressively worse and inevitably leading to an often painful death.

This was the case with terminally ill 29-year-old Brittany Maynard, who died on November 1, 2014 as part of her plan to “die with dignity.” Formerly a resident of California, she moved to Portland when she learned she had grade four glioblastoma early in 2014 and had approximately 6 months to live. Because it is an aggressive brain tumor, advancement typically results in loss of memory, physical weakness, headaches, visual impairment, and other neurological problems.

Rather than undergoing treatment that had no guarantees of success, Maynard decided she would not wait for death to come but to dictate the terms of how and when she would die, hence the move to Oregon. The Death with Dignity Act (Oregon Revised Statutes 127.800-995) had been in place since 1997 and up to 2013, 752 people have since been euthanized legally.

She carried out her plan on November 1 by taking an overdose of barbiturates under the supervision of a physician and died in bed with her family around her. Maynard advocated the benefits of euthanasia for the terminally ill while she was alive, working with a non-profit organization called Compassion and Choices.

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