breast-cancer-1-3-300x215October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual health campaign that raises awareness and support for the 1 in 8 women in the United States that will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. Bringing awareness to this disease is important because breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide. Sadly, on average a woman in the United States is diagnosed with breast cancer every 2 minutes. Breast cancer also impacts men, though it is rare.

Breast cancer treatment and chances for survival can vary greatly depending on the type of breast cancer and when it is diagnosed. As the more than 3.5 million breast cancer survivors in the United States today are well-aware, treatment may include surgery to remove the cancer (lumpectomy), to remove lymph nodes, or even to remove the breast entirely (mastectomy). Breast cancer treatment also frequently involves some combination of radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, targeted therapy drug therapy, and immunotherapy.

Although death rates have decreased since 1989, nearly 42,000 women in the United States are expected to die in 2019 from breast cancer. The decrease in death rates is believed to be the result of advances in treatment and research, earlier detection through screening, and increased awareness of the disease and its risk factors.

crossing-801713_1920-2-300x198Serious pedestrian accidents in Chicago and the suburbs continue to be a problem for a number of reasons: more people walking to work, an increase in traffic on the roads, and drivers failing to look out for pedestrians. Increasing cell phone usage and distracted driving are also putting pedestrians at risk. Tragically, two pedestrians in Naperville and St. Charles have been seriously injured and pedestrians in Bloomington, Morton Grove, and Chicago have died after being struck by cars recently. Municipalities need to address this problem by analyzing where and why pedestrian accidents happen and taking measures to prevent these tragedies from occurring.

In the meantime, how can victims and families be compensated for these terrible accidents? If a pedestrian is hit by a car, the driver is usually –but not always—found to be at fault and his or her insurance compensates the pedestrian. That is because most states have laws requiring drivers to be alert to their surroundings and to hazards in the road, which would include pedestrians. If the pedestrian is following the rules of the road and is struck by a motorist who is speeding, fails to yield, is disobeying traffic signals, or is otherwise impaired or distracted, the driver is at fault and their policy must compensate the victim. Even pedestrians who are not in the crosswalk may get compensation from the driver’s insurance if they were paying attention, did not act irresponsibly and did not run into the road to try to beat traffic.

But what happens if the responsible driver is not insured?  If the at-fault driver has no insurance or very little insurance, then the pedestrian’s own uninsured and underinsured coverage in their auto policy can compensate them for injuries sustained even if they were not driving at the time. Most people are not aware of this.

ethylene-oxide-300x208“The announcement that Sterigenics has decided not to reopen its Willowbrook facility, while a victory for the people fighting Sterigenics’ unsafe ethylene oxide emissions, is also a sad reminder that it should never have been allowed to operate there in the first place. For years, Sterigenics spewed its cancer-causing chemical into a neighborhood filled with schoolchildren, teachers, moms and dads who had no idea they were ever in danger. Dozens of lawsuits filed against the company claim that Sterigenics’ chemical emissions gave them cancer or, even worse, caused the death of a family member. I hope news of the company’s closing is of some solace to them, and that no community will ever again be treated as callously as they were.”

Sterigenics-300x202“I am disgusted, but not surprised, by the Illinois EPA’s decision to grant Sterigenics a permit to reopen. This is the same state agency that, in 1984, gave the operator of the Willowbrook plant a permit to emit ethylene oxide into the local community in quantities that the state knew posed an unacceptable cancer risk to local residents.

 With this latest permit issuance, Illinois has proved once again why it cannot be trusted to protect its citizens.  It seems more interested in protecting Sterigenics’ right to make a profit.

For many years, Sterigenics has spewed a very dangerous carcinogen into a residential community.  It never warned the people who live and work there. Children.  Parents. Students. Teachers. Youth sports team players and coaches. Workers in the local shops. It never gave them a chance to protect themselves.  By these actions, Sterigenics forfeited its right to operate here.

vape-3677946_1920-300x200Young people are showing up at hospitals with lungs that look like those of 70-year-olds. Around the country, people of all ages are suffering from a mysterious lung illness, and vaping could be to blame. Federal health officials are looking into the cases of 450 people hospitalized with breathing illnesses after using e-cigarettes and vaping devices, and at least six deaths have been linked to a vaping-related lung illness.

And there’s not just one set of symptoms to look out for. Affected individuals present a variety of symptoms when they arrive at the hospital. For example, one 18-year-old patient complained of chest pain, nausea, fever, and shortness of breath. He was sent to the ICU within 48 hours of arriving at the hospital where doctors diagnosed him with an acute lung injury. That patient ended up being connected to a breathing tube and was placed into a medically induced coma for a week. Another patient, who was 19 years old, suffered from coughing, chest pain, extreme weight loss, and nodules in the lungs. Most patients had nausea or vomiting as well as breathing problems. A third of the confirmed cases were serious enough to need a breathing tube.

Health professionals are taking action to figure out what’s going wrong with vaping. The Center for Disease Control, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, state and local health departments, and other public health partners have mobilized to investigate a “multistate outbreak” of pulmonary diseases. The outbreak is linked to vaping and has had drastic effects on individuals’ lungs and health.

pills-1885550_1920-300x225If you are taking Zantac, you should be aware that the FDA and the European Union are investigating whether the heartburn medication, as well as generic versions of the drug, contain high enough levels of the cancer-causing agent NDMA, (N-Nitrosodimeethylamine), to pose a danger to patients.

Zantac, or Ranitidine, as it is called in generic form, is an antacid and antihistamine used by thousands of people to prevent heartburn and gastrointestinal issues. More troubling is the fact that it is sometimes given to infants suffering from reflux. Now, the medication, which is sold at major pharmacies such as Walgreens, CVS, and Walmart, is under investigation by European and U.S. health regulators.

U.S. drug safety officials became aware of the potential problem when Valisure, a Connecticut based online pharmacy that independently tests every medication it dispenses, alerted the FDA that its testing had found high levels of NDMA, a carcinogen, in Zantac and generic versions of the drug.

water-1154080_1920-1024x680In the United States, more than 13 million households rely on private wells to get their drinking water. But unlike municipal sources of drinking water, like a town or city, private wells are not regulated by the government. Instead, private well owners are responsible for the safety of their own drinking water.

To make sure that private well water is free from contaminants, wells should be tested at least once a year. Yet, routine water tests for private wells are uncommon in Illinois and in other places across the country. Without these tests, however, families have no way of knowing whether their private well water is safe to drink.

Testing your well water is important because it’s the only way to determine whether it contains chemicals or other contaminants that may be harmful to your health. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency warns that the following contaminants are commonly found in private well water:

Since the ingredients in many traditional cosmetic products pose a health risk, it’s no wonder that consumers are searching for “natural” and “clean” products. In fact, in-house research at Sephora shows that 54% of itssephora-450966_1920-300x216 shoppers are looking for brands that are “free of” certain ingredients. As a result, new brands positioning themselves as “cleaner” alternatives to traditional cosmetics are exploding. “Natural” brands made up approximately one-quarter of all higher-end skincare sales in 2018, reflecting this consumer trend towards “clean” and “natural” products.

Cosmetics retailers are noticing the trend, and “natural” products are moving from specialty stores to the mainstream marketplace. Major stores like Target and CVS are expanding their “natural” cosmetics offerings and Sephora, already carrying an expansive line of “natural” beauty products, launched a clean beauty initiative, giving products that are free of toxic ingredients a special green label. That all sounds great! But, what do “natural,” “clean,” and “green” actually mean in the cosmetics world?

Nothing! No governing body regulates those terms, so a company can call a product “natural” or “clean” and define the term however it wants. And, there is a lot of incentive to do so, since 90% of consumers believe that natural beauty ingredients were better for them. Usually, “natural” means plant-based and “clean” means free of certain products, such as parabens, phthalates, or sulfates. However, nothing guarantees this, and some consumers are starting to catch on. For example, a recent class-action lawsuit  accuses Tarte Cosmetics of misleading consumers. The complaint alleges that Tarte’s “high-performance naturals” line includes synthetic ingredients and that the “natural” label misleads consumers into purchasing synthetic products. This is just one example of the cosmetics industry taking advantage of consumers’ fear of toxic chemicals.

Imagine you’ve just gotten into your car. You turn it on and BOOM your airbag deploys for no reason. Or, your car hits a pothole and BANG your airbag explodes from the steering wheel.

crash-test-1620608_1920-thumb-250x166-86090During accidents, airbags save lives – the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that frontal airbags saved 25,782 lives between 1987 and 2008. But, what about when an airbag deploys for no reason? Car manufacturers have had to recall car and truck models because the airbags inexplicably deployed. When that happens, there are major risks associated with your airbags, including risks to your hearing.

In an accident, your airbag needs to deploy in the milliseconds between when the airbag controller senses a collision and when you slam into the steering wheel. In order to do this, the airbag has to deploy with explosive force, at speeds up to 200 miles per hour. That generates a lot of noise.

transportation-system-3179313_1920-300x200Some of the scariest moments on the road occur when a tractor-trailer suddenly decides to pull into your lane, oblivious to the fact that you are in the way, or turns in front of you, unaware that your car is there. At that moment, you realize that the truck is not going to stop because they can’t see you. Usually, you are able to slow down or move into another lane to avoid injury, but for some motorists this situation becomes deadly.

Side underride collisions happen when a car crashes into the side of a tractor-trailer, and the force of the crash propels the car underneath the truck. These kinds of truck accidents are especially dangerous because the truck can sheer off the top of the car and kill the occupants. Usually, these side underride collisions occur at night, when a truck is trying to cross or turn onto a street or highway. But they can also occur when a truck suddenly moves into a different lane, trapping a car under the body of the truck. Unfortunately, these side underride accidents–where a car ends up wedged underneath a truck– can be deadly even at low speeds.

In fact, several hundred people die each year when their cars lodge under tractor-trailers from the side, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. This is unacceptable, especially when you realize that most of these accidents could be avoided if trucks were equipped with side guards: panels placed around the lower part of a truck’s trailer. Side guards would prevent cars from sliding under the body of the truck, protecting the driver and passengers. So why aren’t trucks equipped with these potentially life-saving side guards? Because the government, so far, has not required it.

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