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The Danger of Cooking Spray and Explosion Risks—An Overview

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spam cooking spray fire illustration

There have been numerous recent reports of aerosol cans of cooking spray—such as PAM brand cooking spray—exploding near the stove and leaving victims with severe burn injuries. Innocent consumers across the United States have been victims of severe bodily injuries, including burns to their hands, face and neck, due to a seemingly innocent pantry staple violently exploding on them.

If you have an aerosol spray can of PAM cooking spray, you should read the information below and in our following three articles that will overview the dangers of these cans, the design defects that are causing these explosions and the injuries suffered by unsuspecting victims, and whether a lawsuit could be a path forward for you.

The Danger of Exploding Cooking Spray Cans: A Violent History.

Sadly, it’s not breaking news that innocent consumers are falling victim to exploding aerosol cans of cooking spray. In fact, this danger has a well-documented history in America; still, however, these hidden dangers are still sold by the millions in grocery stores nationwide.

There have been dozens of victims claiming that aerosol cooking spray cans have exploded violently without warning, leaving them scarred with serious injuries and burns.

Perhaps one of the worst cases involves an Ohio woman who was cooking by the stove in 2017, using a can of PAM brand cooking spray while she cooked food at the stovetop. All she could recall about the incident was that she was cooking, putting a fork in the pan, when the explosion blast happened in a moment. She said that the next thing she realized was that she was on fire.

The woman suffered severe burns to her face, neck and chest. Doctors said that had her eyes been open at the moment of the blast, she would likely be blind. She suffered from her injuries for weeks as she recovered in an outpatient facility. She struggled for months to return to normal activities, like dressing herself and bathing.

Experts reviewing this fire and similar fires say that the aerosol can of PAM cooking spray overheated from the heat of the nearby stove, or fell into a flame of the stove, and as a result of the heat combusted into a fireball explosion. Similar cases have occurred across the United States, in Connecticut, Colorado, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and others.

So Why Do These Explosions Keep Occurring?

Because of the violent nature of these explosions—and the resulting serious injuries—naturally there have been numerous investigations into the cause of the blasts.

These investigations include reports by expert scientific witnesses who have testified about the cause of the explosions in several of the lawsuits that have come from these explosions, brought by innocent victims seeking reimbursement for their horrific injuries.

After a scientific review, these experts concluded that a design flaw in the aerosol cooking spray cans were the likely cause for the explosions.

Each of the cans that caused an explosion had vents along the bottom of the cans. The evident intent of these vents was to help release the pressure from the can, to help prevent it from exploding during normal use. But it turns out that these vents were doing the exact opposite.

Instead of releasing the internal pressure from the cans, the vents were releasing air at much lower, and much less-pressurized levels than should be released from an aerosol can vent. These levels were well below what would be necessary to release pressure from the can to ensure safety during use. And because of the low temperature and pressure, the air released was extremely flammable.

This flammable air released from the aerosol cooking spray cans, when combined with either heat from a nearby stove or by accidentally being dropped in a hot stove, triggered an immediate and violent blast. The resulting explosions were essentially fireballs, exploding right in the face of the victims.

We’ve written a detailed overview of the design defect of these cans, and why that could be important to recover damages if you’ve suffered injuries from an exploding can. You can read more here.

What Kinds of Injuries Occur from These Explosions?

Exploding cans of cooking spray can cause immediate—and horrific—injuries. These injuries are those that would typically come with a large fire or violent explosion, such as:

  • First degree burns to exposed
    areas, such as the neck, hands, face and chest;
  • Second degree burns in these
    areas that penetrate both the outer and middle layers of the skin and can take
    weeks to recover;
  • Third degree burns in these
    bodily areas that penetrate the deeper tissues of the body and can cause
    lifelong injuries and deformations, and can take months to heal;
  • Blindness from open eyes at the
    time of the explosion;
  • And death.

We’ve outlined the types of injuries and cases that have occurred as a result of these dangerous devices.  You can read more here.

What Can Victims of these Cooking Spray Explosions Do?

If you’ve been a victim of injury from a cooking spray can explosion, there are laws that protect you and legal options that can help you recover for your hospital bills, physical disrepair to your home and other damages you suffered from the explosion.

In the United States, we have consumer protection laws, both at the state and federal level, that are meant to protect you in situations like this where a consumer product is unsafe. Products sold to consumers in stores—like PAM brand cooking spray—must comply with these laws. Products like cooking spray must be safe for “ordinary use,” which means how a reasonable person would use the product according to the package instructions.

Hiring an experienced product liability litigation attorney is always in your best interest if you’ve been a victim of these explosions. Having a knowledgeable attorney at your side when facing a global manufacturing company in the courtroom can significantly increase the changes of obtaining a favorable result, whether that is at settlement or at trial. Victims attempting lawsuits without an attorney have reported much lower compensation, as they face intimidating large companies and their attorneys.

You can read about how you could bring a lawsuit to recover damages for your injuries and damages in our article here.

So if you or someone you love has suffered injuries from a cooking spray can explosion, you should read further through our articles on the design defect of the cans, the types of injuries these explosions have caused, and how you could recover damages for your suffering through a lawsuit.

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Vaping Death Totals Continue to Rise

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While the vaping illness that was so prevalent in the news during the summer of 2019 isn’t making headlines now, it’s still a major concern with new cases and deaths being reported. Four more deaths have been added to the list since January 21, bringing the total to 64.

More Illnesses and Deaths

Those deaths have occurred in 28 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The number of those hospitalized for the illness was up to 2758, which is an increase of 47 since the January update. The illness also has a name – EVALI or e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury. Most of the products contain vitamin E acetate, which is a product safe for use as a topical or for eating but harmful when inhaled. However, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) still believes there could be more than one cause of the disease.

According to health officials, the worst of the disease occurred in September 2019 with the most cases being treated. New cases are still being treated and reported around the country and other deaths are under investigation. The government agencies have warned people to avoid using illegal products for vaping.

Sales of vaping products, especially those that contain THC, have dropped around the country where cannabis has been legalized for recreational use. Washington had the largest drop in sales by nearly 50 percent. Other states, including California and Colorado, are seeing an increase once again.

Continued Concern

Federal agencies claim that nicotine vapes aren’t part of the outbreak of the illness. A ban across the country on most flavored vaping products took affect early in February. This includes fruit and mint, but it may not be as effective as is hoped. The ban focused on cartridges for vaporizers or prefilled pods, such as those manufactured by the major e-cigarette manufacturers. Disposable vapes weren’t included in the ban, and they feature various flavors.

There is some concern that states may be taking the ban too far. Proponents for vaping say that banning menthol could do more harm than good. They cite statistics that say menthol smokers smoke less than non-menthol smokers. Vaping in schools is still a major concern because the devices are easy to conceal and use during school hours. It can be difficult to catch a student vaping. The schools are concerned about how vaping is impacting their studies and grades as well as their behavior at home.

The design of many of the vaping products makes it easy to hide in plain sight. For instance, one product looks just like a Sharpie and even has the word written on the side. Another product looks like a watch, which can be worn on the wrist. To combat this problem, some schools have installed vapor detectors in bathrooms. While no alarm is triggered, a message is sent to administration to alert them about what is going on.

Vaping may not make the headlines as it has in the past, but it still carries a risk for those who continue.

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Facts and Myths About What Causes Cancer

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Over the years, you’ve probably heard that a wide range of things can lead to cancer. New research will either validate or deny these claims, but it can be hard to separate fact from fiction. Here is a list of a few things that have created concern in recent years and the truth about them.

Artificial Sweeteners

One of the most popular items that has been linked to cancer is artificial sweeteners like Equal and Sweet ‘n Low. Sweeteners that contain saccharine got a bad rap a few years back when it was discovered that the ingredient caused cancer in rats.

According to researchers, rats react in a different way to saccharine than people. There has been no indication that it leads to a higher cancer risk, and the warning label has been gone on these products since 2000. Aspartame hasn’t been found to cause cancer either.

Cell Phones

While cell phones haven’t been linked to cancer, they do come with warnings. They emit the same kind of energy as what is found in microwave ovens. It’s best to use a hands-free device, just in case.

Meat

You may not think about the dangers of eating processed meat, but the nitrates in hot dogs, lunch meat and other types of meat could cause cancer. These nitrates specifically increase the risk for colon cancer.

Coffee

No, coffee doesn’t cause cancer, which is good news for coffee fanatics. In fact, even better news is that research shows that drinking coffee regularly could reduce the risk for specific kinds of cancer, including liver, uterus and prostate cancer.

Fluoride

You can find this ingredient in mouthwash and toothpaste, along with other products. It may also be present in drinking water. While there have been concerns for how it can cause cancer, no direct link has been found.

Antiperspirant or deodorant

Both of these products are designed to help prevent odor, but antiperspirant keeps you from sweating while deodorant stops the smell. These products contain various chemicals that act similar to estrogen, which can cause cancerous cells to grow. However, no definite link has been found between the products and cancer.

X-rays

X-rays aren’t safe for the body, which is why doctors and dentists cover you with a lead blanket to keep the radiation away from your body. Higher doses of radiation lead to a higher risk of cancer. However, x-rays usually include a small amount and only slightly raise your risk.

Cleaning Products

Some cleaning products and other household items can increase your risk of cancer. The dangerous products are those listed as volatile organic compounds or VOCs. If they are listed as low-VOC, it means they are safer. You can look for products that say danger or poison, highly flammable, corrosive or highly combustible as an indication of what to stay away from.

Some of these items have been linked to cancer while others have not proven to carry a risk. It’s best to be careful and avoid certain products if you’re concerned.

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Are You at Risk for Cancer from Driving Too Much?

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A study done by the University of California at Riverside suggests that carcinogens in car seats may increase risk for developing cancer on long commutes. According to research, car seats contain TDCIPP, a flame retardant.

CBS News reported on the study, which raises the concern for people who spend longer times in their vehicles due to commutes to work or school. People who are exposed to carcinogens long-term may have an increased risk for developing cancer.

What is TDCIPP?

This chemical is technically known as chlorinated alkyl phosphates. It’s used in automotive seating and upholstery as a fire retardant. It’s also been used in the pads on infant changing tables and nursing pillows. It was once used in pajamas for children, but it was eliminated because it caused serious side effects. However, it’s still one of the most common additives for baby products.

The chemical can get into the air and mix with dust in a home. It can fall onto various surfaces in the household, including toys. Children who put the toys in their mouth may ingest the chemical. TDCIPP can also land on food, which would allow adults to ingest it. With vehicle upholstery, the dust could be breathed in because of the closed space.

It can be difficult to eliminate exposure to this chemical, especially when it comes to driving or riding in a car. However, you may be able to limit your exposure in other ways by reviewing the materials in the products you buy. TDCIPP is found in polyurethane foam. You can choose cotton, polyester or other natural fabrics that are safer and don’t contain foam.

TDCIPP was added to Proposition 65 in California, which is a list of chemicals known to cause cancer. This chemical was added in 2013, but it’s still being used in vehicles. The study showed that elevated risk came from just a week of commuting.

The Study and Participants

The study used about 80 participants, all of whom were students with commutes of about 15 minutes up to over two hours. The participants wore silicone wristbands as part of the test for five days. Airborne contaminants are attracted to silicone. The research team believes that the chemical then migrated to the participants’ systems.

The team plans to conduct another test with more participants of various ages. They plan to study ways to protect those who must commute daily from exposure. At the present time, they recommend dusting the inside of the car regularly to remove any excess dust. The Environmental Protection Agency also has guidelines on how to limit exposure to contaminants, though they may not be specific to TDCIPP.

The concern goes beyond what information was learned in this study to the possible impact for those who spend years with daily long commutes. Some people travel for one or two hours every day or more for many years. The potential for long-term effect is still an unknown until more research is done on TDCIPP and commuters.

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