Multiple reports have been noted about injuries to people from exploding cans of Pam cooking spray along with other brands. Some of these incidents have led to lawsuits being filed against Conagra, the manufacturer of Pam.
The Claims Against Conagra
The plaintiffs are alleging that the aerosol cans for the cooking spray were defective because they exploded even with normal use. They say that the manufacturer never warned about the potential risk for these situations to occur.
The cans have exploded when being used in a kitchen or placed on a shelf around the stove. One instance occurred when a woman claims she was injured by an exploding can after placing it in her shopping cart. Another person was working as a chef in Houston, Texas and his body caught on fire when a can exploded above the grill in the restaurant. It resulted in a full kitchen fire.
The manufacturer has responded to these claims by stating it believes the product is safe when used correctly. Conagra has said that care must be given, and the cautions are listed on the packaging and must be followed. The cautions include not storing the can in an area with the temperature about 120 degrees Fahrenheit and not keeping it close to a hot stove or spraying it over an open flame.
Even with the number of injuries reported, there have been no recalls of the product. Conagra did change its design for the larger aerosol cans, but it says the reason was to standardize all cans.
The Danger of a Defective Spray Can
Contents of the Pam cooking spray are held under pressure in an aerosol can. When the pressure becomes too great, it can cause an explosion. However, plaintiffs are alleging that these cans were defective because they exploded before they should, and no warnings were in place about the possibility of such an incident.
Conagra has been making this product for over 50 years, most of the time with no problems. In 2011, a new design for the aerosol cans were put into production for a limited number of cans. These cans are the larger version rather than the regular can you would find in most residential kitchens. Instead, they are often used in restaurants and other food-industry businesses. However, they were also sold in warehouse stores like Sam’s, which allowed homeowners to purchase the cans for use at home.
With the new design for the cans of cooking spray, the vents were placed at the bottom, which would allow the can to vent instead of exploding. Flammable liquids are included in the ingredients, such as propane and butane. When the cans get too close to a heat source, these chemicals begin to move faster, causing the can to expand. Once it has ran out of room for expansion, the can will explode if it cannot vent correctly.
While all aerosol cans have this same danger, the temperature usually must be very high to cause an explosion. You might think of a can of hairspray left in a car on a hot summer day. It will explode when the temperature in the car gets too hot. However, this situation is not supposed to occur in a kitchen under normal circumstances.
Injuries from a Defective Cooking Spray Can
The injuries being reported from cooking spray can explosions have mostly been burns. They may be second- and third-degree burns, which require surgery and skin grafting. Other injuries result from the impact of objects that are moved because of the explosion.
One person lost most of their eyesight because their contact lens melted to their eyeball when a can of cooking spray exploded. Burns to hands can result in damage to nerves and loss of feeling. Many of these injuries are permanent and can cause disfigurement.
The victims often lose work and may be unable to return to their jobs because of permanent injury. The injuries often require multiple surgeries and extensive rehabilitation which can take months or even years.
These cases have happened all around the country from Indiana to Texas to Illinois and other locations. As more people realize what has happened, there may be additional lawsuits. Anyone who has a larger sized can of cooking spray can easily determine if it is one of the defective designs. It will have U-shaped marks on the bottom of the can as vents. These cans should be disposed of correctly and not used to prevent the risk of explosion.
Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder Recalled
Johnson & Johnson has issued a recall on its baby powder based on testing done by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). When the FDA conducted a test on a sample from a lot of baby powder, it found traces of chrysotile fibers, which is a type of asbestos and a cancer-causing substance.
The FDA supports the quality of the testing and says that it has not heard of any adverse reactions due to exposure, but it warns consumers to not use the baby powder from the affected batch.
The affected product comes from a single batch of 33,000 bottles. J&J is issuing a refund to all customers who purchased one of the bottles. The levels of the fibers found in the powder were very small at 0.00002 percent and it isn’t known how the fibers got into the product. There is the possibility of cross-contamination, but there is also concern that the sample may have come from a bottle without a solid seal. The agency is also checking to ensure the tested sample was authentic.
Johnson & Johnson stated that no asbestos has been found in the talc products over the last 40 years, including tests completed in the past months. Even the FDA tests have found that the products were safe.
Talc’s Common Uses
Talc is a natural mineral found in the earth the same as asbestos. However, asbestos is carcinogenic while talc is safe for use. Because the two minerals are often found close to each other, mining companies must be careful in choosing the sites. They must also be cautious in testing the ore to ensure safety for the general public with the products that use talc.
Talc is most often seen in baby powder and other powders. It’s also used in cosmetics because it acts as a drying agent. Because of the likelihood that talc and asbestos are in the same location, the FDA has remained active in monitoring for asbestos in products that contain talc. In fact, the agency has found asbestos in other products with talc. Two examples are Justice and Claire’s cosmetic products in recent months.
Asbestos Can Cause Cancer
Asbestos has been linked to mesothelioma, a cancer that is found in the tissue which lines some of the organs, including the lungs, heart and stomach. When a person breathes in asbestos, it doesn’t leave the system, instead getting trapped in the tissues. Over time, the amount of asbestos builds up and can cause cancer.
A person with this type of cancer often begins showing symptoms by a persistent cough and chest pain, along with fatigue and sometimes night sweats. While the cancer is rare, it is most often seen in people who have been exposed to asbestos. Treatment includes chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy. Many people die of this disease, especially if they aren’t diagnosed until the late stages.
While the amount found in the Johnson & Johnson baby powder isn’t believed to be enough to cause cancer, it’s best to take precautions and stop using the product from the affected lot.
Exposure to Man-Made Chemicals Could Inhibit Brain Function
A study from the Georgetown University Medical Center shows that toxic chemicals made by people which linger in the environment could impair brain function. This study is believed to be the first to focus on PCBs or polychlorinated biphenyls and the impact to the cells which provide support for neurons and the central nervous system.
How PCBs Impact the Brain
The research was done on the brain cells of mice in laboratory tests. According to researchers, the study shows how important the astrocytes are for brain function and how much they are impacted by PCBs. The astrocytes not only support the neurons in the brain, they regulate communication between them and maintain the barrier between blood and brain. They also repair nervous tissue after an injury occurs. If these cells don’t do their jobs, neurons die.
PCBs have other negative consequences, including disruption of hormone signals, preventing the immune system from working properly and inhibiting reproduction as well as causing cancer. The chemicals are linked with killing certain brain cells in patients with Parkinson’s disease.
These chemicals were popular because they are resistant to heat, stable and insulated. PCBs were used in lubricants, paints, coolants, flame retardants, adhesives and many other products. Production of the chemicals ended in 2001 when the dangers became more apparent. However, their stability means they persist in the environment even years later. PCBs have been linked with the decline of the population of killer whales in existence.
In certain regions of the world, the people may be constantly exposed to these chemicals. At this time, it’s not possible to remove the chemicals from a person’s system. However, the goal is to find ways to compensate for the damage through other treatments, which would help the person continue to function as normally as possible.
PCBs May Cause Many Cancers
PCBs are a probable carcinogen. Studies of the chemicals have shown an increased risk for several cancers, including the following:
- Liver cancer
- Brain cancer
- Gall bladder cancer
- Gastrointestinal tract cancer
- Biliary tract cancer
It may also be linked to breast cancer. These chemicals may also cause developmental problems for babies when the pregnant mothers are exposed. In one study, the babies who were born to exposed mothers had lower birth weights and head sizes. They also scored lower on memory, behavioral and psychomotor tests for the first seven years.
Today, the most common way to be exposed to PCBs is by eating contaminated fish or breathing the air near contaminated areas. PCBs don’t leave the body, so they can accumulate over time. These chemicals have been found all around the world and they don’t go away. Many experts believe that PCBs can spread through the air along with the water. Higher concentrates of the chemicals are found with more exposure. For instance, a child born to a mother who was exposed may have a higher concentrate than the parent. Some of these PCBs become nontoxic, but it takes many years for the process to be completed.
School Buses Being Recalled Across the Country
Over 50,000 school buses have a safety issue and are being recalled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The buses are from the 2014-2020 model years. The recall is for safety and involves a seat issue.
According to the NHTSA, the seats may not have adequate impact absorption, which could increase the likelihood of injury in a collision. The seats are SynTec S3B and S3C, made with styrene blocks. There isn’t enough absorption around the seat frame, which is made of steel. It would not provide adequate support if there is a crash and it doesn’t meet federal regulations for school buses.
The vehicles involved include the following Thomas Built vehicles:
- Saf-T-Liner EFX
- Saf-T-Liner C2
- Saf-T-Liner HDX
Daimler Trucks North America must alert all dealers and bus owners about the recall. The company has stated that it will add more impact material and then re-bond the back of the seats and vinyl cover at no cost to the customer. The recall should start around December 2. School districts are waiting for the list of VINs to be released to know which buses are impacted by the recall.
School Buses are Safe
School buses are generally safer than other vehicles with fewer injuries and fatalities noted in crashes. The buses are designed differently, which makes them about seven times safer than a passenger vehicle, according to the NHTSA. They are heavier than other vehicles and distribute the force of a crash in a different way. The close seats include seat backs which absorb energy from a crash. This design is one reason the recall is important for the safety of the children.
An accident on a bus may include another vehicle or multiple vehicles. It may involve only the bus and another type of obstacle. A child may be injured as they get on or off the bus or even be hurt while waiting for the bus.
Injuries from a bus accident are often minor when they do occur. However, they can be serious, especially in a situation where the bus doesn’t meet safety standards. The design of these seats is to eliminate the need for traditional safety belts. When they don’t absorb the force from the crash, the child is more likely to suffer an injury. It could be a neck or back injury or even head trauma. Sprains and strains are common injuries in any vehicle accident as are fractures and broken bones.
The NHTSA estimates that there are about 450,000 buses on the road, transporting children to and from school with an average of less than ten fatalities in a year. A recall of 50,000 of those vehicles is no small number. While the issue doesn’t reduce the ability of the buses to provide transportation for the kids, it does impact the safety if the vehicle is involved in a collision. This is a nationwide recall, which will impact school districts around the country and must be dealt with to ensure the continued safe transport for the children who attend school in the affected locations.
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