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Explosion-1-300x188A 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 asked residents living within a mile of Chemtool to evacuate for their own protection, due to the potentially dangerous chemicals released in the fire. It is estimated that as many as 1000 people may be affected.

We hope that initial reports of no fatalities—either Chemtool plant workers or Rockton area residents—are correct.  If so, it is a great blessing amidst the shock and danger of this explosion.

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.

Fire-fighting-foam-1024x742California has long been regarded as one of the most environmentally progressive states in the country, which is why it is no surprise that they are one of the states leading the charge against the “forever chemicals” known as PFAS. In March of this year, California announced its intent to label two of the most widely used PFAS–PFOS and PFOA–as chemicals that cause cancer in humans and to study four other PFAS– PFDA, PFHxS, PFNA, and PFUnDA– for reproductive toxicity.

It is about time.

What Are PFAS?

Blog-photo-Pool-300x200Summer is just around the corner, and with the new season comes beautiful weather, swimming, boating, summer sports, recreation, and unfortunately but inevitably, accidents. From swimming pool accidents to sports injuries, summer is full of activities that can cause injuries. It is important to be aware of these hazards if you want to keep yourself and your loved ones safe this summer.

Common Types of Accidents During the Summer Months

 Certain accidents occur more commonly during the summer than at other times of the year. Here are some eye-opening statistics on the most common summer accidents.

rosary-699609_1920-300x200Sadly, the Diocese of Joliet is in the news again, this time for a failure to protect minors from a man who had been a teacher at multiple Catholic schools in the diocese. Jeremy Hylka, a teacher, father, and former youth minister, has been charged by Joliet police with child sex crimes. Specifically, Mr. Hylka is charged with grooming and traveling to meet a child.

The police issued a warrant for Mr. Hylka after they became aware of a Snapchat video, posted by an independent group called Saving Our Siblings, that showed the teacher meeting with a boy he believed to be 15 years old at a McDonald’s allegedly to engage in inappropriate sexual conduct. After realizing he had been caught in a setup, Mr. Hylka attempted to flee the McDonald’s on foot. The “minor” involved also turned over social media and text messages allegedly showing Mr. Hylka engaging in other inappropriate conduct. According to police, Mr. Hylka had solicited the boy for sex on the internet.

As a result, Mr. Hylka has been fired from his positions at Saint Joseph Catholic School in Lockport, Saint Paul the Apostle Catholic Church, and the Cathedral of Saint Raymond Nonnatus in Joliet on April 28, and the diocese has prohibited him from working or volunteering for any diocesan school or parish.

breast-implants-300x199After Allergan’s textured breast implants were linked to breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL), the FDA asked Allergan to voluntarily recall the implants in July 2019. BIA-ALCL is a rare form of Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that appears almost exclusively in women who have textured breast implants, Allergan’s Biocell implants in particular.

BIA-ALCL is typically found in the scar tissue and fluid surrounding the implants, and if left untreated, can spread to other parts of the body. The symptoms of the cancer include pain or swelling near the implant, a lump in the breast, or a hardening of the breast. So far, 481 women with Allergan textured breast implants have been diagnosed with BIA-ALCL, and 33 have died.

Since the recall, women have been consulting with their doctors about the best course forward for them, including discussing whether removing the implants and replacing them with a safer type of breast implant is the best option. Many women, with the advice of their doctor, have decided to go this route.

Treadmill-300x179Peloton is recalling its Tread+ and Tread treadmills, less than a month after fighting with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) over the agency’s “urgent warning” about the potential dangers of the treadmills and request for a recall of the machines.  The warning urged consumers to stop using the treadmills after they were linked to the death of one child and the injuries of 29 others.

On Wednesday, the company said that it will offer full refunds for the treadmills, which cost $4,295, and will stop selling them. The recall comes with an apology from Peloton CEO, John Foley, who said that the company “made a mistake” in fighting the commission’s request for a recall.

The commission issued the warning and recall request because it had received 72 reports of children, pets, and other objects being pulled under the treadmill. Twenty-nine of those reports involved children who were injured by the treadmill, including children with broken bones, brain injuries, and cuts. One six-year-old child died from his injuries. The potential dangers of the exercise machines were highlighted in a video showing a child being pulled under a Pelton treadmill which was posted to YouTube.

Treadmill-300x179On April 17, 2021, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a warning advising consumers to stop using Peloton treadmills,  after the Peloton Tread+ allegedly left one child dead. The commission is additionally concerned because of multiple reports of victims, mostly children, being pulled under the machine and suffering serious injuries as a result.

According to an official at the CPSC, this is not an accident that happens with other treadmills. The agency is asking Peloton to recall the treadmill while CPSC continues its investigation into the death of the child.

Peloton is fighting the recall and the investigation, claiming the CPSC warning is “inaccurate and misleading”. They insist their treadmills are safe for use as long as the warnings and safety instructions are followed. They do admit, however, that it’s important for consumers to keep children, pets, and other objects clear of the treadmill at all times. This, as any parent knows, is impossible unless you keep your treadmill in a locked room, as the CPSC is recommending. Moreover, parental supervision may not even prevent an accident. In one incident a child was allegedly pulled under the treadmill while the parent was running on it.

winter-driving-300x200Winter is here with a bang and so are its dangers. While snowstorms may bring an abundance of beauty, they also bring an abundance of hazards: iced-over, slippery, or snowy roads, poor visibility, and broken-down vehicles all pose an extra threat during this magical time of year. As a result, 17% of all crashes occur during winter weather. Research done by AAA’s Foundation for Traffic Safety shows that, within the United States alone, nearly half a million crashes and 2,000 road deaths are caused every year by bad weather or poor road conditions. Being aware of these dangers and preparing properly for them can ensure your safety and the safety of your loved ones on the road.

Winter driving dangers are in large part caused by terrible road conditions, poor visibility, and neglectful vehicle maintenance.

Terrible road conditions can be caused by one of three things: rain, snow, or ice. Rain can decrease visibility and cause hydroplaning, snow can make it difficult to accelerate and decelerate your car, and ice can be so thin it’s not even visible (black ice) and can make the roads extremely slippery. All 3 of these things can lead to accidents because they make it more difficult to stop, start, or turn your vehicle.

baby-food-1-300x300Baby food has been facing some much-needed scrutiny lately. A recently released Congressional report disclosed that many top baby foods, both organic and non-organic, are contaminated with dangerous levels of heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury. This is especially concerning since both the World Health Organization and the FDA have concluded that these heavy metals pose a danger to human health, and to babies and children in particular.

The findings are the result of a year-long investigation by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform into heavy metals in baby food. Launched after a 2019 study by Healthy Babies Bright Futures found toxic metals in 95% of the baby food they tested, the Congressional investigation asked top baby food companies to voluntarily produce information about their testing policies and test results. Four companies responded to this request: Gerber, Beech-Nut, Hain, and Nurture. The Hain products are labeled as ‘Earth’s Best Organic’ and the Nurture products are labeled as ‘HappyBABY’. Three other companies—Walmart, Sprout Organic, and Campbell–did not cooperate, according to the Congressional report.

The responses to the Congressional inquiry revealed a major problem: all of the companies had used ingredients containing heavy metals in their baby food. Not only that, but the companies had routinely ignored their own standards for toxic metals, continuing to sell tainted baby food to families. And most of the companies had failed to test their finished baby food products for toxic metals, despite an industry admission that testing only the ingredients might underestimate the amount of heavy metals in the finished product. Below are the some of the results included in the Congressional report. (Keep in mind that these numbers are from the companies’ own test results, not results from an independent lab.)

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