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Think Flint’s Lead Contamination Problem is Bad? Think Again.

Think Flint’s Lead Contamination Problem is Bad? Think Again.

Flint, Michigan, has gotten worldwide attention because of the problems residents have with water contaminated with lead. When local officials switched water supplies to one with more acidic water, it caused the lead in water pipes and fittings to leach out into drinking water. Reuters recently investigated the issue nationwide and found about 3,000 communities in the U.S. where lead contamination is worse than in Flint, though these communities receive virtually no public attention. Many New Jersey school systems have come under scrutiny after water tests showed high levels of lead. Reuters, after reviewing public health records, found nearly 3,000 areas where recently recorded lead poisoning rates were at least double that of Flint in the peak of the city’s contamination crisis. More than 1,100 of these areas had a rate of elevated blood tests at least four times higher. The areas span the country, in rural and urban areas. Reuters found: Within 15 blocks of a house in St. Joseph, Missouri, at least 120 children have been poisoned by lead since 2010, making the neighborhood among the most toxic in Missouri. Even a local pediatrician’s children were poisoned. In Warren, Pennsylvania, 36% of children have tested with high lead levels. In a zip code on Goat Island, Texas, a quarter of children tested showed lead showed poisoning. In parts of Baltimore, Cleveland and Philadelphia, lead poisoning has spanned decades, and the rate of elevated lead test results over the last ten years was 40% to 50%. No matter the location, Reuters found people whose lives have been impacted by lead exposure. Those dealing with lead poisoning are mostly...
Defective Hoverboards Claim Their First Life

Defective Hoverboards Claim Their First Life

A Pennsylvania family is grieving the loss of a three-year-old killed in a house fire last month in Harrisburg. The cause is believed to be a re-charging hoverboard that burst into flames, starting the fire that caused the fatality and left two house occupants in critical condition. Such an accident can happen in New Jersey if defective batteries are re-charged and catch fire. Three-year-old Ashanti Hughes was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital, reports the Los Angeles Times. One occupant jumped to safety from a second-floor porch roof and three others were taken out by firefighters using ladders. The fire department has ruled the fire accidental, stating it was caused by a hoverboard plugged in to recharge on the first floor, where family members were present. They reportedly heard the hoverboard make sizzling and crackling noises before it exploded in flames. Fire Chief Brian Enterline told the press that hoverboards are “notorious for starting fires” and asked people not to use what he called “knockoff brands” that are unsafe. “We’ve seen too many fires and too many fire fatalities as a result of these hoverboards,” he said. NBC reports that a U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) spokesperson called the death the first fatality in the country linked to a hoverboard-related fire. The problem with these hoverboards, as well as defective e-cigarettes and Samsung phones, is that their lithium-ion batteries can malfunction and cause fires. According to The Economist: Lithium is the least dense metallic element, so its light weight makes it a good choice for batteries in portable devices because it can pack more power per pound than...
Where There’s Smoke There Should Be a Working Smoke Detector

Where There’s Smoke There Should Be a Working Smoke Detector

A fire in your home could be a living nightmare. A functioning smoke or fire detector should give you enough time to safely get out of your home and call for help. If that detector isn’t working properly, especially if a fire occurs at night when you’re asleep, the results can be catastrophic. We rely on these devices to keep us safe without giving them much thought. If a smoke detector isn’t working properly and serious property damage, injuries or deaths occur because of a fire, can someone be held legally responsible? Depending on the facts of the case, there may be a basis for a lawsuit against another party seeking compensation for property loss and injuries. If you own your home, you should have enough smoke detectors installed, and their batteries need to be replaced regularly. You should have a smoke detector in each bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement. If you have a two-story, three-bedroom house, you should have a minimum of five smoke alarms. If they’re not powered through your home’s electrical system, their batteries should be replaced at least annually. The detectors generally have an eight- to ten-year life span, so they should also be changed when the time comes. If you don’t pay any attention to your smoke detectors, never replaced the batteries and don’t have enough of them in your home, you may have a difficult time with a successful lawsuit if a fire occurs and injuries result. If the detector didn’t help save your home or your health because of a long-dead battery,...
Less Light, More Danger This Time of Year

Less Light, More Danger This Time of Year

With the end of daylight savings time and more darkness, when most people drive home from work in the evening, comes greater risk of pedestrians getting involved in motor vehicle accidents in New Jersey. Because there is less light and worse visibility, pedestrians may not see oncoming vehicles, and drivers may not notice pedestrians walking onto the street. Earlier sunsets and darkness have been linked to more pedestrians being killed or seriously injured in vehicle accidents, according to a study by New York City’s Department of Transportation analyzing data from 2010 to 2014, the most recent years available, reports the New York Times. The traffic analysis shows: From 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. during the week, the prime time most workers commute home, the weekday hourly average rate of severe injuries and fatalities involving pedestrians rises to 2.44 in mid-December, nearly triple the average rate of 0.84 in August. There is a sharp increase in severe injuries and fatalities from November to March. The city’s statistics are consistent with data on pedestrian accidents across the country, according to Michael Flannagan, an associate research professor at the University of Michigan: There is a big jump in pedestrian fatalities and injuries in the evenings in the fall, after the change back to standard time makes the evenings suddenly darker. The problem isn’t sleep disruption — it’s that it’s suddenly more dark and more difficult to see. In the spring, when daylight savings time goes into effect, evenings are suddenly lighter and pedestrian fatalities and injuries decrease. Dr. Daniel M. Laby, the director of the Sports and Performance Vision Center at the...
Cherry Hill Students Exposed to High Levels of Lead in Water

Cherry Hill Students Exposed to High Levels of Lead in Water

School water supplies contaminated with lead have been found all over the state of New Jersey, most recently in Cherry Hill. Nine water sources at five public school buildings were found to exceed government-set limits for lead, the school system announced last month, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Water samples were taken from fixtures at Bret Harte, James Johnson, Horace Mann, Joseph D. Sharp, and Woodcrest Elementary Schools. The school system announced the discovery in a letter by Superintendent Joseph N. Meloche, who also stated that all of the contaminated outlets have been taken out of service. He claimed students need not bring their own water to school, because there are sufficient safe supplies available. Lead testing has been mandated by the state for all public schools. Gov. Christie called for the testing earlier this year after elevated lead levels were found in the Flint, Michigan, public water supply. High lead levels in water have been found in schools in 13 other New Jersey school districts. Lead normally leaches out of older water lines, pipes, plumbing fixtures and fittings and into the water in older buildings where lead was used in solder to connect water pipes. Cherry Hill’s schools were built between 1955 and 1970. The five schools with high lead levels were built between 1958 and 1967. The contaminated Cherry Hill water samples exceeded 15 parts per billion, the limit the federal Environmental Protection Agency has set for corrective action. A total of 209 samples were taken from Cherry Hill school buildings. More bad news may follow, as 19 more schools are supposed to be tested by the...
Mandatory Arbitration Agreements May Prevent Your Day in Court

Mandatory Arbitration Agreements May Prevent Your Day in Court

Arbitration is a method of resolving differences between two parties that doesn’t involve litigation in court. By itself arbitration is not necessarily bad. It depends on what rules are set up to govern the arbitration and whether the parties fully and knowingly agreed to use arbitration as a means to avoid a full-blown trial in court. Many people are finding their legal claims are being forced into arbitration, and away from court, against their will. If you’ve never heard of arbitration, consider yourself lucky. Most of us hear about it when it’s too late. You want to protect your legal rights; you don’t want to discover that you waived your rights to join a class action or sue the defendant because of a supposed arbitration agreement you allegedly accepted. These binding, or forced, arbitration agreements are literally all over the place. If you sign up for a credit card, open a bank account, buy a car, invest money, fill out nursing home paperwork, accept a job offer or sign a contract, there’s a very good chance that somewhere in the fine print there’s a clause stating you agreeing not to sue the other party but will resolve a potential dispute in an arbitration instead. As you enter a business or retail store, you might want to look around by the door to see if there is any statement posted in small letters. It might state that by entering the premises you’re binding yourself to arbitration in case there are legal disputes (such as compensation due to injuries caused by a slip and fall) between you and the business. Given...
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