contaminated-tap-water-300x213Chicago has a lead problem that may rival the contamination in Flint, Michigan, according to The Guardian. The publication analyzed years of Chicago tap water tests (conducted for residents between 2016 – 2021) and discovered that 1 in 20 of the tests performed by the city showed lead levels at or above U.S. government limits. Out of 24,000 tests, 1000 had lead levels exceeding the federal standard of 15 ppb in drinking water. More than 30% of the tests had lead levels exceeding the FDA standard of 5 ppb lead for bottled water. This is extremely concerning because lead exposure is linked to a host of health effects.

Lead is a potent neurotoxin that can cause irreversible damage, which is why many health experts say there is no safe level of lead. The American Academy of Pediatricians recommends lead levels under 1ppb to protect children whose brains are particularly susceptible to the metal. Even low levels of lead have been linked to lower IQ levels, behavioral disorders, and poor reading and math performance in children. In adults, low levels of lead can cause kidney problems and high blood pressure.

The size of the problem is much greater than Chicago’s current water testing shows, however, because most homes with lead service lines in the city have not even been tested yet. In fact, Chicago has an estimated 400,000 lead pipes supplying water to city homes, more than any other city in the country. This is partly because Chicago inexplicably kept a law– requiring lead pipes be used to connect homes to the city’s water system–on the books until 1986, years after most large cities had banned them.

aggressive-dog-300x200Many of us love our furry friends and would never expect a dog to hurt us. Unfortunately, however, dog attacks do happen, and the resulting injuries can be serious. So, who is liable when a dog bites someone? In many states, owners are only responsible if they have a reason to believe that their dog might hurt someone, for example, if their dog has bitten someone before. In Illinois, however, dog owners are liable if their dog hurts someone, regardless of whether the owner had any forewarning that their dog might be dangerous.

What Does Illinois Law Say About Liability in a Dog Attack?

 When it comes to dog bites, Illinois is a strict liability state, which means that a dog bite victim does not need to prove that the dog owner acted negligently. Under 510 ILCS 5/16, “If a dog or other animal, without provocation, attacks, attempts to attack, or injures any person who is peaceably conducting himself or herself in any place where he or she may lawfully be, the owner of such dog or other animal is liable in civil damages.” A dog owner does not need to believe that their dog might be aggressive. If their dog bites someone, even if it is the first time this has happened, they are liable. This would not apply if the victim provoked the dog or was on the dog owner’s property illegally.

water-bottle-g82d7e38e6_1920-300x241We have all been told about the benefits of drinking water out of a reusable bottle. It’s convenient, better for the environment than single-use bottles, and increases your daily water intake. However, if your reusable water bottle is made out of plastic, it may be more damaging to your health than it is beneficial. In a recent study,  chemists at the University of Copenhagen discovered that tap water that gets stored in reusable plastic bottles contains hundreds and sometimes thousands of chemicals; many that are damaging to human health, and many more that have unknown toxicity.

The chemists tested three different types of popular plastic water bottles, two of which were biodegradable. The researchers stored tap water in both used and new bottles for 24 hours. Some of the bottles had been machine washed, some had not, and some had been rinsed 5 times with tap water. They then tested the water in the bottles for a variety of chemicals.

Shockingly, after just 24 hours, the researchers found hundreds of substances present in the tap water stored in the new bottles—including substances that had never been found in plastic. Worse still, they discovered THOUSANDS of substances in the water stored in bottles that had been through a dishwasher cycle. And even the tap water stored in thoroughly rinsed bottles contained a significant percentage of toxic and unknown substances. More than 400 of the substances were derived from plastic and 3500 from dishwashing soap.

Camp-lejeune-service-members-graduate-college-300x221Update, July 2022: After being passed in the House and Senate, the Honoring Our PACT Act was expected to go to President Biden’s desk for his signature, but it is currently being blocked in the Senate by Mitch McConnell and the Republicans.

After years of denials by the government, Camp LeJeune veterans and their families–who were exposed to cancer-causing toxins on the military base–may be on the brink of getting their day in court.

In a long-overdue action, the House of Representatives recently passed H.R. 3967, the Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act (Honoring Our PACT Act), a broad bipartisan bill that addresses the needs of veterans subjected to toxic exposure. Yesterday, on June 16, 2022, the Senate passed an amended version of the Act. Importantly for Camp LeJeune veterans, this bill includes the Camp LeJeune Justice Act of 2022.

Baby-feeding-bottle-g6789f2148_1920-300x225The product liability attorneys at The Collins Law Firm are investigating claims from the parents of premature infants who were fed Similac or Enfamil baby formula while in the hospital and then developed necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC).

What is NEC?

Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a serious intestinal illness–typically affecting premature infants—that can cause permanent damage to a baby’s gastrointestinal system. The word “Necrotizing” refers to cell damage and death. “Entero” means the intestine, and “Colitis” means inflammation of the colon. NEC typically happens after the first 2 weeks of life in premature babies who are fed cow’s milk-based formula instead of breast milk. NEC develops when the tissue in the large intestine becomes inflamed due to a bacterial infection. The infection and inflammation cause sections of the intestine to become necrotic and die. When this happens, it can create a perforation (or hole) in the intestine which allows bacteria to escape into the abdomen and pass into the bloodstream. Unfortunately, NEC usually strikes suddenly and can progress rapidly. If not treated immediately, it may put a baby’s life in danger.

French-fries-300x200On April 21st, 2022, Best Buy issued a recall of nearly 775,000 Insignia air fryers and air fryer ovens due to multiple consumer reports of the devices catching fire, burning, or melting. The fryers, which have the brand name Insignia on the top or front of the appliance, were sold in the U.S. and Canada between November 2018 and February 2022.

These air fryers pose a potential risk to consumers and may cause severe injury if something goes wrong. If you are currently using an Insignia air fryer, you should stop using it immediately and register here (or call Best Buy at 800-566-7498) to return the appliance and receive a Best Buy credit.

The devices that are being recalled are:

carbonated-water-300x200As environmental lawyers, one of our passions is fighting for clean drinking water for communities affected by contamination. So, it is disappointing that the EPA, under President Biden, has endorsed a Trump administration decision and decided not to regulate perchlorate in drinking water.

What is Perchlorate?

Perchlorate is a contaminant that can be found in groundwater, surface water, and soil. Most perchlorate manufactured in the U.S. is used for rockets and missiles. Perchlorate-based chemicals are also used in safety flares, fireworks, matches, pyrotechnics, explosives, and batteries. Because perchlorates are used in military applications, some countries prefer to keep the amounts they make confidential. So, we do not know the exact amount of perchlorates produced or used in the United States. However, high levels of perchlorates are often found near military bases where the chemicals have been used in rocket fuel. And to no one’s surprise, the Department of Defense and other military contractors oppose limiting perchlorate in drinking water.

woman-at-work-gc15debff2_1920-300x202At long last: A victory for women in the workplace.

H.R. 4445, a bill banning the forced arbitration of sexual assault and harassment claims in the workplace has passed the House and Senate and is awaiting President Biden’s signature to become law.

The bill, which is called the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act “would allow sexual harassment and sexual assault survivors to elect to file a case in a court of law rather than be subject to mandatory, forced arbitration provisions in cases involving sexual harassment or sexual assault disputes.”

car-accident-fatality-300x2002021 saw a record number of traffic fatalities in the United States. The rise has become so concerning that transportation leaders are calling it a crisis. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an estimated 31,720 people died in traffic accidents in the first 9 months of 2021, an increase of approximately 12% from the 28,325 fatalities in the first nine months of 2020. This is the highest number of fatalities since 2006.

Illinois fared even worse than the national average, showing an 18.4% increase in traffic fatalities, with 993 people dying in car accidents in the first 9 months of 2021 compared to 839 during the same months in 2020. In total, more than 1350 Illinoisians died in traffic accidents in 2021, the highest number since 2005.

One of the reasons for the increase in fatalities was an 11.7% increase in miles traveled over 2020, as well as declining seatbelt use.

car-maintenance-auti-repair-gda26c20ff_1920-300x200Are you quick to get needed car repairs or do you tend to put them off? The majority of people say they maintain their car and get repairs right away, but the reality is not so rosy.  Over 90% of car owners admit they’ve put off maintenance or repairs longer than they should. For most, the delays were less than a week, but some drivers admit to delaying essential maintenance or repairs for 30 days or more. Unfortunately, this behavior makes you more likely to have a car accident and puts other drivers at risk.

Procrastinating when it comes to car maintenance can be dangerous and even fatal. In 2019, there were 6,756,000 car crashes in the United States, with 1,916,000 of these accidents resulting in injuries, and 33,244 causing fatalities. according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Two percent of these motor vehicle accidents are typically caused by vehicle failure or degradation, mostly tire or brake failures. That works out to 38,320 injuries and 664 deaths related to vehicle failure a year. The majority of these are caused by drivers failing to maintain or repair their cars so they are in proper working order.

Drivers may hold off on repairs because they don’t feel they have enough time or money to replace their old tires or get the brake pads changed. But even minor issues can affect a driver’s ability to stay safe on the road. Failing to address the following maintenance and repair issues can lead to a car crash.

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