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Number of Vaping Illnesses Continues to Rise

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Doctor team examining at lung radiograph x-ray film of patient in operation room.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the number of cases of lung illnesses linked to vaping continues to rise. The latest stats indicate that 805 confirmed cases have been reported, along with 12 deaths.

More Illnesses Reported

The reach of this illness has extended to 46 states and the Virgin Islands. Ten states have reported deaths, including the following:

  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • California – 2 deaths
  • Indiana
  • Minnesota
  • Kansas – 2 deaths
  • Missouri
  • Mississippi
  • Oregon

The number of deaths has almost doubled in the past week.

Investigations continue into the deaths and illnesses, but no single cause has been identified. No one product or substance was used by all patients. Over 150 samples of vaping products have been gathered, and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is studying them. Vitamin E still stands out as a strong possible culprit because of the risk that comes when it doesn’t vaporize but is inhaled into the lungs as a liquid. However, it hasn’t been found in all the samples.

Symptoms are similar for all the patients. They experience shortness of breath and chest pains along with coughing. Some people have had to be put on ventilators because they couldn’t breathe on their own. Others require oxygen to help with breathing.

Over half of the reported cases involve patients under the age of 25. Three-fourths of those who have been sick are male.

Legal Action

Due to this health crisis, several states have taken action. Massachusetts has stopped all sales of vaping products for the next four months. Rhode Island is in the process of banning flavored e-cigarettes. Michigan and New York have placed restrictions on the purchase of vaping products. Walmart is planning to remove electronic cigarettes from its shelves. Other municipalities and states are preparing for action as well.

The Trump administration is working on a ban for all flavored e-cigarettes until they can be approved by the FDA. Doctors are recommending that people stop vaping and turn to a nicotine patch if they had been smoking. The CDC and other agencies warn people about buying vaping products off the street. These products can contain many different chemicals that could prove to be harmful.

Impact to Vaping Manufacturers

Because of the situation, vaping product manufacturers are feeling the fallout. The CEO for Juul, the market leader in vaping products, stepped down and was replaced by an executive from Altria, a tobacco company that owns 35 percent of shares in Juul. The manufacturer also stopped all advertising for its products in the US and has said it will not oppose restrictions or the proposed ban on flavored e-cigarettes. It has promised to help agencies and regulators to make the products safe and to address the concerns of the public.

The CDC says it is continuing to see more cases every day, which is concerning for the medical profession and the public. However, many people are still using e-cigarettes and vaping products in spite of the warnings against them. This includes teens and others who are underage.

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Defective Products

Defective Fuel Heater Causes Recall of Trucks and Buses

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Over 50,000 buses and trucks are being recalled because of a defective component in a Cummins diesel engine. Navistar, Inc. has initiated the recall because of a possible fire hazard from an electric fuel heater.

Danger of Fire and Injury

If a Cummins medium-duty diesel engine would overheat, it could cause plastic components in an electric fuel heater to melt. As the plastic melts, it could cause the vehicle to catch fire. This engine is used in school buses, emergency vehicles and trucks. Another concern is could cause the engine to stall out. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicates that it increases the changeof a crash from the engine stall-out.

Of the more than 68,000 Cummins engines in circulation, about ten percent are expected to have the problem. At this point, Cummins said it isn’t aware of any fires or injuries that have been caused by the defective part.

The manufacturer is still in the process of developing a solution. The company plansto notify dealers on April 30th and begin the recall on May 29th. The first incident occurred in the early part of February. There have been 12 known cases where the component has melted when Cummins decided to issue a recall notice. The company notified Navistar, the maker of the majority of affected vehicles.

Models Impacted

Most vehicles are 2018 and 2019 model years with a few 2020 and 2021 buses as well as International/Durastar and International/Workstar models from 2017.

IC Bus is a line of school and commercial busses. Models impacted from the recall range from 2018 to 2021 and include both school buses and commercial transit. International is the truck side of Navistar’s company with various models. The International/Workstar is a severe-duty truck for hauling heavy cargo, such as rock. The International/HV is often used to haul cement and other heavy products. The MV, another model included in the recall, is popular for hauling cargo with a trailer connected.

Navistar is a leading manufacturer of buses and commercial trucks as well as defense vehicles. Any recall can have significant impact because of the number of these vehicles out on the road. The size of the trucks and buses make any defects dangerous not only for the driver but for other vehicles around them. If the vehicle catches fire, it can incinerate other vehicles nearby. If the truck is hauling hazardousproducts or explosives, the risk intensifies.

While some vehicles have a safety system that shuts down a vehicle when a fire starts, not all models are equipped in that way. A fire with one of these models can result in severe injury, especially with burns. Other injuries can be caused by a crash if the engine shuts down while the vehicle is moving.

Anyone driving one of these models can contact their employer to let them know about the recall. They should stop driving immediately until it can be determined if the vehicle has a defective device and the issue is corrected.

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Nissan Vehicles Now Included in Takata Airbag Recall

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Nissan vehicles are the latest models to be recalled for defectiveness of Takata airbags. The manufacturer recalled around 216,000 vehicles because of the possibility of a malfunction in the airbag system.

Nissan Models and the Recall Issue

According to Nissan, the problem is with the airbags on the driver’s side of the vehicles. The vehicles are being recalled because the Takata airbags may not deploy when they are supposed to or they may rupture in the attempt. If they rupture, it could cause shrapnel to go flying in the cabin, which could lead to serious injury or death of a passenger. Shrapnel can create wounds like a knife because of the sharpness of the metal. The person may bleed out or have scarring and be disfigured. It can also lead to hearing and vision issues.

Models affected by this recall include NV cargo and passenger vans from 2012 to 2017, Nissan Titan and Armada from 2013 to 2015, and Infiniti QX56 from 2011 to 2012.

This isn’t the first time Takata airbags have caused a recall of vehicles. Back in 2008, Honda was the first auto manufacturer to recall vehicles because of defective airbags. The company had to recall about 4000 vehicles. Since then, other brands have had similar recalls. In fact, the situation has been so serious that Takata declared bankruptcy and the company was sold to Key Safety Systems.

The recall of Nissan vehicles is due to a slightly different issue. A problem with manufacturing at a Mexico facility could result in overloading or asymmetric loading of the propellant while the component was being manufactured. In prior recalls, the chemical that was used in the propellant could become unstable when it was exposed to higher temperatures or humidity levels. It also could develop instability after long time periods. The chemical being used was ammonium nitrate.

According to Nissan, no incidents have been reported which are related to the recall issue. Other Nissan and Infiniti models aren’t affected by the problem.

What to Do If You Own a Recalled Model

The manufacturer has a plan in place to deal with the recall. They will notify vehicle owners on May 25, 2020. Owners of the affected models can take their vehicles to a Nissan dealer to have the front airbag on the driver’s side replaced at no charge.

To find out if a Nissan vehicle is part of the recall, owners can check the website of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or contact Nissan at 800-867-7669. Infiniti owners can contact the manufacturer at 800-662-6200.

This is not the first recall of the year. Takata issued another recall notice in January for 10 million airbag inflators. These products were sold to 14 different auto manufacturers. When an airbag doesn’t deploy as it should, it can allow serious injury to the driver. If it malfunctions, the injuries can be quite severe and cause permanent injury or even death. Anyone with a recalled model should get the problem taken care of and the airbag replaced right away.

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Joybird is the Latest Company to Recall Dressers for Tip-over Hazard

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Joybird Furniture has issued a recall of the Blythe dresser due to a risk of tipping over. The product doesn’t comply with stability standards and could fall over and cause injury to children.

Risk of Tipping Over

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the dressers are unstable if they haven’t been attached to a wall. If a child should attempt to climb on the dresser, they are more likely to tip over and trap the child underneath. This could lead to serious injury and even death.

Currently, the recall notice involves around 100 of the products, which measure 66 inches in width and 37.5 inches in height. They are 18 inches in depth, and they weigh around 200 pounds. They cost $1700 and were sold online at the company website between October 2017 and July 2019.

To identify the dressers, the consumer can look on the back of the dresser for a sticker that includes the month and year the piece was manufactured and the name, Stitch Industries, Inc. It will also say TSCA Title VI Compliant.

There have been no incidents reported from consumers who own the dresser, but the product does contain a real risk. Anyone who owns one of these dressers can call the company at 888-282-0842 or email them at support@joybird.com. They can also contact the manufacturer through the company’s website.

Joybird has said it will provide a free pick-up of the dresser and give consumers a full refund. This is the resolution that safety experts prefer because it ensures the home is safe from the risks that come with this product. However, Joybird has given customers a second option. They can contact the company and request a free repair to be done in the home on the legs of the dresser or installation of a tip-over restraint kit. These options will also include a gift card worth $50 which can be used for merchandise on the company’s website.

Changes to Standards

Legislation is being considered which would create a federal statute that is not only stricter than the voluntary standard currently in use, but it would be mandatory. The act is STURDY or Stop Tip-Overs of Unstable, Risky Dressers on Youth.

According to Consumer Reports, someone is injured around every 20 minutes from a piece of furniture or an appliance that tips over. A death occurs about every two weeks. These items include televisions and dressers. Many products have been recalled because of the tip-over risk.

Dressers can cause suffocation of the child because they can’t get out from under them. Many times, no crash is heard because the body of the child absorbs the impact. The child may have been climbing the front or playing inside a drawer.

With the current voluntary standard, any dresser which stands above 30 inches should be able to stay in an upright position even with 50 pounds hanging from the front. Since the standard isn’t mandatory, manufacturers don’t have to test for it or meet it.

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