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Incense is chic again.

You have only to see all the photos of burning incense and crystals on Instagram to know that young people are following this trend. Some companies are even marketing incense as being good for your health. And while it’s true that burning incense can make your house or office smell like a calming spa; is it really a good idea? Not necessarily according to researchers.

Recent studies published in the journal Nature have revealed some surprising health risks linked to burning incense indoors which may make you reconsider using incense to create a calming, patchouli-scented environment. Here are some of the harmful health effects linked to incense burning:

ford-2691853_1920-1-300x209Recent news reports have revealed that a benzene leak at Ford’s Assembly Plant in Flat Rock, Michigan has contaminated the sewers in a 4-square-mile—and possibly larger—area of the city. As a result of the benzene leak, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is recommending that residents who live in the area bounded by I-75 to the east, Gibraltar Road to the north, Cahill Road to the west, and Woodruff Road south, evacuate until further notice. Initially, 10 homes and one school were evacuated, but now, because it is unclear which homes may be at risk, the MDHHS is recommending that the entire neighborhood evacuate.

Why Should Residents Evacuate?

Residents may be at risk of exposure to high levels of benzene, a volatile organic compound (VOC), which can be harmful to human health. Measurements of air in buildings and sewer lines have shown that VOC levels exceed health-protective and explosive levels.

boy-1721400_1920-300x200From the time they begin walking, children are in danger of being injured as pedestrians. According to some very sad statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2016, one in five children under the age of 15 killed in traffic accidents was a pedestrian. Children are less experienced with road safety, less aware of the danger that cars pose, more impulsive, and harder for drivers to see. Too many children are injured or killed every year by distracted, intoxicated, speeding, or negligent drivers. When that happens, families are left reeling, devastated by the aftermath– physical, emotional, and financial—of these tragic accidents.

Adults can help protect children by being aware of the scenarios that are especially dangerous for children and by knowing what to do after a child has been struck by a car or truck. The child pedestrian accident attorneys at The Collins Law Firm can guide you through the legal process after an accident with care and compassion. Knowing the most common situations that lead to pedestrian accidents can help prevent them in the first place.

How do Children Get Injured in Pedestrian Accidents?

car-accident-337764_1280-300x169July proved to be a dangerous month for car accidents in the Chicago suburbs. Multiple car accidents in Oswego, Naperville, Plainfield, Brookfield, Aurora, Schaumburg, Morton Grove, and Hoffman Estates resulted in serious injuries and fatalities. Pedestrians and motorcyclists were especially impacted by these car crashes. Please keep yourself safe this summer by maintaining your car in good working order, following the rules of the road, and refusing to drive while impaired or distracted.

Fatal Oswego Pedestrian Accident –  Police are investigating a fatal crash involving a pedestrian that occurred in the early hours of July 1st on Mill Road on the west side. The pedestrian, a 32-year-old man from Oswego, was attempting to cross Mill Road at Washington Street when he was struck by a Nissan Sentra traveling eastbound on Mill Rd. Paramedics transported the pedestrian to an area hospital where he was later pronounced dead from his injuries. The driver of the Nissan was cited for failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.

Fatal Motorcycle Accident in Morton Grove, IL A 41-year-old man from Mount Prospect was killed in a traffic accident in Morton Grove on Friday, July 2nd. The crash occurred at the intersection of Oakton Street and Gross Point Road at approximately 10:30 p.m. when a motorcyclist riding east on Oakton Street at Gross Point collided with a Nissan Altima traveling west on Oakton. The motorcyclist was found unresponsive by police at the scene and was transported to St. Francis Hospital where he was pronounced dead. The Nissan Altima was driven by a 74-year-old man from Skokie. The accident is still under investigation.

Sunscreen-300x240Johnson & Johnson is recalling all lots of five NEUTROGENA and AVEENO sunscreens due to internal testing which found low levels of benzene in some samples of the products. The recalled sunscreen products are packaged in aerosol cans and were sold nationwide. Consumers should stop using the products and follow the instructions below.

The sunscreens affected by the recall are the following aerosol products:

  • NEUTROGENA Beach Defense aerosol sunscreen,

Benzene-in-sunscreensSummer is here, along with beach days, afternoons at the neighborhood pool, tropical vacations, and lathering up in sunscreen. As you head out into the summer sun, however, it might be worth doing some research before grabbing any old bottle of sunscreen off the shelf. A new report has found benzene, a chemical that is known to cause cancer, in 78 sunscreen and after-sun products.

Independent Testing Found Benzene in 27% of Sunscreens

Valisure, a pharmacy that performs its own independent tests on various products, recently tested almost 300 different sunscreens in an effort to find a “clean” sunscreen. Of those 300 sunscreens, 78 (or 27%) tested positive for benzene; some even containing triple the FDA’s limit of 2 parts per million. As a result, Valisure is asking for a recall of the contaminated batches.

sleep-apnea-mask-photo-300x212Last month, Philips issued a huge recall of many of its ventilators and continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines meant to help those struggling with sleep apnea. The company has issued the recall with no answers as to when the products will be fixed and available again, leaving many people feeling lost without an alternative. People with sleep apnea need these machines to get a good night’s sleep and ensure their safety during the night. Untreated sleep apnea can result in a slew of health problems; everything from anxiety and tiredness to high blood pressure, heart attacks, or strokes. Leaving people without treatment for their sleep apnea is potentially dangerous. However, the problems with these machines need to be resolved before they are safe to use.

What is the Problem with Phillips’ CPAP Machines?

The issue with these devices is the foam that is inside of them, a polyester-based polyurethane (PE-PUR). This foam is meant to reduce the sounds and vibrations that come from the device, but it has recently been discovered that this foam also has the potential to break down inside the device and enter the air pathway of the machine, leading to the possibility of being inhaled or swallowed by the person using it. The foam also may release chemicals into the airway of the device, which would then be inhaled by the user.

Explosion-1-1-300x188The Collins Law Firm, P.C. has filed a class action lawsuit against Chemtool Incorporated on behalf of residents affected by the explosion that occurred at their Rockton, Illinois plant on June 14, 2021. The explosion resulted in an enormous chemical fire that created a massive plume of toxic smoke, ash, and debris that could be seen from 100 miles away. Eighty-nine fire departments were dispatched to the site to aid in combating the fire, however, due to concern about the environmental impact to the nearby Rock River, they did not engage immediately in fire suppression activities.

As a result of the fire, the Winnebago County authorities issued an executive proclamation of disaster emergency and ordered a mandatory evacuation of residents living within a one-mile radius of the plant. The affected residents were directed not to return home even for medication, technology and communication devices, or other personal items.

Authorities also advised residents within three miles of the plant to wear masks for protection against the potentially toxic and harmful chemicals released by the fire, and to remain indoors without using their air conditioning. Residents were further warned not to touch any of the debris on their property but to have it removed by professionals with experience working with hazardous materials.

Explosion-1-300x188UPDATE: The Collins Law Firm. P.C. and Miner Barnhill & Galland, P.C. have filed a class action lawsuit against Chemtool Incorporated on behalf of residents affected by the explosion and fire that caused them to be evacuated from the area.

A massive explosion and fire at the Chemtool plant, 1165 Prairie Road, in Rockton, IL, has caused huge plumes of ash and debris to blanket homes and businesses two miles and further from the plant, not only in Rockton but in South Beloit and other communities, as well.  Chemtool manufactures greases, including lithium, lithium complex,  aluminum, and clay/bentonite greases.

Along with the debris, it is likely that toxic chemicals have also been released into the air in these communities, and that residents will be inhaling them for some time to come.  Local officials have issued a mandatory evacuation order for residents living within a mile of Chemtool due to the falling ash and the potentially dangerous chemicals released in the fire. At least 1000 residents have been evacuated, along with several businesses. In addition, anyone within three miles of the plant has been advised to wear a mask for protection.

baby-2423896_1920-1-300x200Beech-Nut Nutrition is voluntarily recalling an infant rice cereal due to high levels of arsenic. The cereal impacted is the Single Grain Rice baby cereal with an expiration date of May 1, 2022. The reason for the recall is that the cereal exceeds the FDA’s limit of 100 parts per billion of arsenic.

In addition, the company announced that it will no longer market Single Grain Rice Baby Cereal, citing their commitment to infant safety and doubt about being able to consistently obtain rice flour below the FDA guidance level for inorganic arsenic as reasons for the decision. This is good news for parents who have been concerned about the recent reports of toxic heavy metals–including arsenic–in the baby food they feed their infants, but it is not enough. It’s critical that the other major baby food companies make the health and safety of children a priority as well.

The scrutiny of heavy metals in baby food is long overdue. Last year, a subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Reform, which had been investigating the presence of arsenic and other toxic metals in baby food, issued their final report. The report revealed that all of the major companies that responded to the agency’s request for internal testing documentation had arsenic in their baby food. Beech-Nut was not the only company with this problem; Gerber, Hain, and Nurture also had the same issue. Three other baby food companies—Walmart, Sprout Organic, and Campbell’s–did not cooperate with the investigation.

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