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Article in NY Times regarding findings that some granite counter tops emit dangerous levels of radon and radiation.  Radon is a hazardous chemical element, a colorless gas, which is the second most frequent cause of lung cancer after cigarette smoking.  The article relates the story of a homeowner who had her granite counter tested and found levels over 25 times those considered safe.  Radon exposure is especially dangerous to smokers, whose lungs are already in a compromised position, as well as young children.

There are several resources on-line to help determine if you have a problem.  The EPA has a Radon website with links to information on testing your home for radon.  The AARST (American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists) website also has information on technicians qualified to test your home for radon. 

An EPA spokesman is quoted in the story as saying “there is no known safe level of radon or radiation” exposure and that “any exposure (to radon) increases your health risk”.

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According to a story on Law.com, a jury in New Jersey awarded $6 million to plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Kia Motors America Inc. – because the braking system on their Kia Sephia sedans, which was produced in the late 1990s, is defective.  The lawsuit alleges that the braking system in the Sephias routinely overheated, causing the brakes to wear out quickly (pads and rotors wore down after only 10,000 miles), leading to expensive repairs for the owners of the cars. 

There were about 8,500 plaintiffs involved in the case and each plaintiff will receive about $750, the amount it costs to repair the defect.  Attorneys will receive almost $4million in fees.  Lawyers in Pennsylvania got a $5million verdict against Kia in 2005 on the same issue.  And a nationwide class action regarding the brake issue was previously settled as well, for a smaller amount.

The CPSC has announced a recall of MagnaMan Magnetic Toy Figures, a product manufactured by MEGA Brands of America.  The toys contain small magnets which can detach, then can be swallowed or aspirated by young children.  If multiple magnets are swallowed, the magnets can attach to each other in the body and cause intestinal perforations or blockages, which can be fatal.

The toys were sold at Walmart, Target, Toys R Us, K-Mart and other toy stores from January 2005 through December 2007 for around $10.   

 A second recall of MEGA Brands products, this one on Magtastik and Megnetix Jr. Preschool Magnetic toys was also issued by the CPSC.  These products pose the same risk as the action figures listed above, small magnets which can be swallowed by young children.  The toys were sold at the same stores and during the same time frame as the action figures as well. 

magnetix

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, a jury in San Francisco awarded a mesothelioma victim $20 million dollars.  The jury assessed one third of the fault to Georgia Pacific, a manufacturer of asbestos containing joint compound.  So GP is responsible for $7 million dollars out of the total award. 

Mesothelioma is a deadly cancer, whose only known cause is exposure to asbestos.  The mesothelioma victim, Joan Mahoney, was exposed to the joint compound while participating in a house remodeling business she owned with her husband.  The joint compound was used to fill in cracks in sheetrock and the asbestos fibers became airborne when the joint compound was sanded.  The lawsuit claimed that Georgia Pacific used asbestos fibers in its product long after the connection between asbestos and cancer was known and long after competitors began using different materials in their products.  GP only stopped using asbestos in their products after the federal government outlawed the practice in 1977. 

A wooden ice cream sundae playset manufactured by Battat Inc., and sold exclusively at Target Stores between 12/06 and 12/07, has been recalled due to choking hazard.  The set contained six wooden scoops of ice cream, three wooden cherries, wooden banana slices, a spoon and a bowl; and the pieces attached to each other with velcro strips.  The wooden cherries are small enough to pose a choking hazard to young children.  Consumers should not allow small children to play with the set and should return the toy immediately to Target for a refund.

Ice cream

Merck has settled almost 50,000 cases alleging injury from their drug Vioxx for $4.85 Billion, according to a story in the Baton Rouge Advocate.  Claimants alleged the drug caused heart attack or ischemic stroke, the type in which blood flow to the brain is blocked, in some users of the drug.  The drug has been off the market for 3 years. 

CORRECTION:  In this post I included information on sending Christmas cards to Walter Reed Hospital.  I have found out that is not the proper way to send the cards. 

These are the proper ways to support our military.  The following wesite has great information on sending cards and gifts to our military men and women:

http://www.americasupportsyou.mil/americasupportsyou/index.aspx

You can also donate to the USO, who provide gifts to oursoldiers for the holidays:

https://www.uso.org/donate/custom.aspx?id=589

A little of your time and effort could mean a lot to someone who has made a great sacrifice for our freedom.

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