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New Study Suggests Correlation Between E-cigarettes and Marijuana Use Among Teens

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A new study from researchers at the University of California indicates that the use of e-cigarettes and marijuana may go together, especially for underage smokers. There has been a significant increase in the use of both products.

More Underage Users

The study used data from 2017 to 2018, analyzing it for pot and e-cigarette use among age groups. According to the information, use of e-cigarettes had gone up by 48 percent among those between 18 and 25 years of age. For the same age group, marijuana use went up by almost 20 percent. Smoking traditional cigarettes didn’t show any significant change, but it had been declining for the past ten years.

The data showed that over one-third of users in the studied age group used at least one of the tree products. Coming in third was tobacco cigarettes with just over 300,000. More than twice that number used e-cigarettes, while 1.3 million used marijuana.

Flavored e-cigarettes where the most popular among users with 4 out of 5 choosing products that had flavors. Two out of five used menthol-flavored products. Another concerning statistics was that almost half of e-cigarette users were between 18 and 20 with 40 percent of pot smokers in that age range.

Experts advocate for enforcement of current laws and more education to raise awareness and encourage quitting. They also say the products need to be made less desirable and acceptable while reducing accessibility.

Targeting a Younger Audience

Many manufacturers have created an image of e-cigarette users, making it look cool and trendy by the design of the products and ads. For instance, the JUUL vaping device looks like a flash drive. It’s discreet and stylish, which can enhance the image of vaping as trendy. Because of the small size, the device is easy to hide.

JUUL and other manufacturers of e-cigarettes have come under serious scrutiny with the rise of underage vaping. While they claim their products are intended only for adult cigarette smokers who want an alternative, they hold a strong appeal to young adults and teens. In fact, the sale of flavored products has been banned in the US in an attempt to stop the alarming trend of vaping for this age group.

As the experts have indicated, steps should be taken to curb this trend. Current methods haven’t been working well. In the past year, vaping has been linked to a lung illness that claimed the lives of people of all ages and caused many others to become seriously ill.

Even as these deaths made the news and agencies recommended not to vape, many users failed to heed the warnings. They continue to purchase products, including disposable vaping pods that haven’t been regulated. New methods are needed to prohibit access to these products. As this study indicates, the danger may go beyond underage users who try e-cigarettes to them trying other products. It may even become more serious than just smoking pot to trying other products that are addictive and dangerous.

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FDA Sets Limit for Acceptable Amount of Arsenic in Baby Cereal

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Cereal can contain arsenic from the grains it uses, but rice cereals are often higher in this toxic substance. The FDA has issued a limit for the amount of arsenic that can be found in rice cereal for infants. It is the first limit the agency has set up for arsenic in any food.

Arsenic in Baby Cereal

Rice is a grain with a high absorption rate for arsenic. It can end up with 10 times more of the metal than other grains. Because rice cereal is usually one of the first solid foods given to babies, it can have a significant impact on development.

Babies may eat multiple servings of rice cereal in a day, which can lead to exposure to inorganic arsenic, which is toxic. It can damage the neurodevelopmental system and harm their IQ.

Arsenic in rice cereal isn’t a new issue. Testing revealed that over 60 percent of rice cereals and other products have arsenic in them back in 2012. Since then, agencies have called for limits on the amount found in these products. Now, eight years later, the FDA has determined a limit of 100 parts per billion for arsenic in infant rice cereal. Other agencies have called for a lower limit.

While this limit is important news to manufacturers of baby cereal, it’s not enforceable. It is voluntary for manufacturers to follow these guidelines. The FDA conducted tests in 2018 on baby rice cereals, looking at the amount of arsenic present. About three-fourths of the products were at or below the new 100 ppb limit.

While critics believe this is an important first step to controlling the amount of arsenic that enters an infant’s system, they say more still needs to be done. Other products should be included, according to consumers advocates. Apple Juice is another product of concern. Experts believe it should be treated the same as drinking water with a limit of 10 ppb.

The Dangers of Arsenic

According to consumer advocates, limits should be given for all heavy metals, including lead and cadmium. The goal should be lower to reduce risk for children.

Arsenic is a natural element, which means it occurs in nature. It can get into the food supply through the soil as well as in the water and air. Contamination can happen with mining or fracking. Volcanoes that erupt can create an increase in arsenic at the surface of the earth.

Long-term exposure of arsenic has been linked to certain types of cancer and skin disorders. Even short-term exposure can lead to nausea and vomiting and other side effects. Young children have a higher risk for learning and development issues, which is why the FDA monitors products for infants and younger people at a higher rate than with other products.

It is important for parents to be aware of these risks and to determine which products are safest for their children. The effects from exposure to arsenic may not be seen right away, but they may be serious.

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Car Accidents

New Report Shows Automated Driving Systems Not Equal to Human Drivers

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Automated systems have progressed quickly in the automotive industry. Vehicles can park and even drive without the assistance of drivers in some cases. However, a new study by AAA indicates that these systems still aren’t as reliable and safe as human drivers.

Flawed Systems

According to the report by AAA, the current automation systems are limited. They still require drivers to pay attention and not rely on them completely as they drive to prevent accidents. Researchers conducted tests of vehicle automation systems, including Ford CoPilot 360 and GM Super Cruise. These systems help the driver by performing steering, braking and acceleration at least partially without human intervention.

Research indicates that the systems aren’t always consistent in their performance. Some vehicles failed to stay within the designated lane and would occasionally steer too close to traffic coming from the other direction. Many of these systems have lane monitoring to keep vehicles in the correct lane.

The systems also come with automatic braking for emergencies or stopped traffic. AAA found that sometimes the vehicles may brake abruptly, not giving the vehicle behind them enough time to stop, resulting in a rear-end collision. These systems are also supposed to recognize obstacles to avoid accidents. However, some tests showed that they didn’t adjust direction to avoid a disabled vehicle that was in the roadway.

The manufacturers don’t claim perfection when it comes to the systems. In fact, they often include the shortcomings of the vehicle in the owners’ manuals. However, drivers often expect perfect performance when they drive. They rely solely on the automated systems rather than paying attention to the situation.

Based partly on the results of the study, AAA is asking manufacturers to improve these systems, often known as Level 2 systems, before they add them to new models. This isn’t the first test done of automated systems. The results are similar to other studies done by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Consumer Reports has also seen similar results in evaluations of systems.

The Testing

AAA used five vehicles for testing:

  • 2019 Ford Edge
  • 2019 BMW X7
  • 2019 Cadillac XT6
  • 2020 Subaru Outback
  • 2020 Kia Telluride

All models feature active driving assistance. All but the Cadillac and Ford models were tested on the AAA closed test track. Those two models had limitations on location and speed. All five models were tested on a round trip between Los Angeles and San Francisco, which totaled 800 miles. They were driven on interstates as well as local highways.

All five models have problems with being able to stay in the correct lane. They fared well on the closed track, except for some left bias, which would put them closer to oncoming traffic. All five had issues on curving roads and hills.

While AAA admitted that some models worked better in various situations than others, none could be completely relied upon. The researchers recommend that drivers continue to pay attention and use the systems as assistance, but not to rely on them to do the job alone.

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Gas Fireplaces Recalled Due to Safety Hazards

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A specific brand of gas fireplace has been recalled due to the risk for burns and lacerations, according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission website. The fireplace is manufactured by Miles Industries of Canada.

The specific name of the product is Valor H5 Gas Fireplace. It has been sold at Specialty Hearth stores, Abercrombie & Co, and Southern Fireplaces & More, as well as Custom Hearth and Southern Hearth & Patio. These units cost between $3700 and $5500 for the product alone, not including installation expenses. The recalled product was sold between July 2014 and March 2020.

The recall notice is for two models of the Valor H5, which were manufactured in seven trim options. They came with a mesh barrier screen and a log set. They are fully enclosed with a sheet metal box and a glass front. The fireplaces have an exhaust which is vented outside.

The issue with these fireplaces, which caused a recall notice was for a delayed ignition. The pilot degrades which would allow the gas to accumulate before it lights. Once the ignition happens, it can make the glass window shatter. A person nearby could be hit by the glass, causing lacerations. It can also lead to severe burns.

As the glass shatters, it can send the shards flying and embedding into a person who is in the vicinity. Flying glass can be more dangerous than a regular cut because of the power behind the impact. The risk for burns is significant as well if the glass shatters because it is like an explosion, which can cause the fire to travel further.

What Consumers Should Do

Consumers who own one of these products should stop using them immediately. They can contact the retailer where they bought the fireplace for a free repair. Miles Industries is also contacting any purchasers known. Consumers can also contact Miles Industries directly at 866-420-3360 or through email at H5@valorfireplaces.com.

Information about which models are part of the recall can be found on the right side of the box which holds the unit. The model number is listed on the top left with the serial number just below. The model number is 1150ILP with a serial number between 20001 through 20365. The other model number is 1150JLP with serial numbers between 20366 and 21502.

Do not continue using the fireplace until it has been checked out by a professional. A delayed ignition allows gas to build up, which can create a dangerous effect once it is lit. While only a small number of these products have been sold in the US, there have been reports of malfunction without injury. Consumers should take the recall seriously because these injuries can cause serious damage, depending on the area of impact on the person. Burns and lacerations from flying glass can be painful and even cause permanent damage.

Any recall notice should be heeded as evidence exists that it can be dangerous and even life-threatening in certain situations.

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