Chemical Plants Need to Be Cautious of Flooding

Along with the string of hurricanes in 2017 came flooding that just won’t seem to quit. The hurricanes may be over, but the flooding seems to be getting worse. This is not only a concern for homes that are in the water’s path, but it’s also a major issue for potential chemical spills.

The New York Times says that when the hurricanes left, the climate started to warm up. Because of this, there was a toxic spill in Baytown, Texas. Waters ended up flooding a chemical plant and released lye. A Florida fertilizer plant and an Ohio refinery saw the same kind of situation. The fear of this happening again is instilled in the minds of many.

At this point, any chemical plant near waterways in the impacted areas are at risk. A Climate Science Special Report says that flooding and climate change are going to get worse as the months go on. The heavy rainfall that many areas are experiencing is going to make the situation a lot worse.

The Times says that the location of these plants is due to a time when it was the easiest to transport goods to and from a certain area via a waterway. During that time, the flooding wasn’t much of a concern or a risk, so it didn’t stop anyone from building so close to the water.

Jeanne Herb, an environmental policy expert at Rutgers University, spoke to the Times regarding the rising water levels.

“Waterfronts are changing as a result of sea level rise,” she said. “More often than not, these are facilities are on the water for a reason. So how do we make sure that there are protections in place? That’s the big question.”

Back in 2015, President Barack Obama signed an executive order that required planners of buildings that were federally funded, roadways, and other infrastructure to make sure they built with flooding and rising water levels in mind. This would ensure that anything like a chemical plant would be protected against the dangers. However, when President Donald Trump took office, he rescinded the rules.

Every year, about 16,000 chemical spills are due to material transfers via trucks, tanks, and trains. However, this shouldn’t be the only concern. At this point, any companies looking to build in the near future need to be aware of potential risks and do what they can to take preventative measures.

Got Snow On Your Roof? Here’s Why You Should Remove It (And How To Do It)

Ah, winter. The holidays are fun and all, but in many parts of the country, dealing with freezing temperatures, snow, and ice gets old fast. This time of year often brings the need for home repairs to the forefront, like furnace issues, frozen pipes, and poor insulation. And then, of course, there’s your roof.

To put it plainly, a lack of roof maintenance can turn into a major issue once the snow starts to fall. A tiny bit of fluffy snow won’t hurt your home, but even half a foot of wet snow could cause damage. Six inches of wet snow is equal, in terms of weight, to 38 inches of dry snow. Letting the white stuff build up can lead to water leaks under your shingles, ice dams, or even roof collapse.

While roof collapse is certainly the most serious problem, ice dams can be disastrous, too. When snow melts and refreezes, it has no place to go — and that’s when ice dams form. Because ice dam formations can actually lead to both water leakage and eventual roof collapse, it’s key that these issues be removed before any long-term damage occurs.

Your best bet for snow and ice removal is to hire a professional. It’s a lot safer and you won’t risk damaging your home in the process. While professional snow removal doesn’t come cheap, many homeowners find it’s worth it. You still need to be careful when hiring professionals, though. The construction industry eliminated more than 40% of its workforce between 2006 and 2011, an action that impacted contractors, roofers, and other professionals. While good roofers may be easier to come by these days, there may be bad ones looking to take advantage. More demand means more opportunities. In Pennsylvania, there have been reports that some contractors are working illegally without state registration. This means there’s no guarantee that these roofers have insurance or are even qualified to do the job. And that leads homeowners vulnerable not only to financial fraud but to safety risks. To avoid this from happening to you, you should always check your contractor’s ratings on the Better Business Bureau website, ask for proof of insurance, and do a bit of Googling to look for bad reviews.

If you’re determined to DIY, there are some affordable options. Roof rakes cost anywhere from $30 to $50 a pop and can help remove heavy snow pile-ups. However, use them with caution; with very heavy snowfall, you could be removing a substantial amount of snow and may not know where it’ll land on your property. RoofMelt tablets can help, too. Just toss some on your roof and wait for the ice to melt. However, experts caution that homeowners should refrain from getting on their roofs themselves to remove the ice and snow, and that they should never put salt on the roof to melt the ice.

Overall, if you spot any cracks in your walls, spot a lot of ice buildup on your roofs or in your gutters, or are simply dealing with the aftermath of a big storm (typically, more than six inches of snow), call in the professionals. Saving a few bucks isn’t worth putting your safety or your home’s structural integrity at risk.

Washington State Law Now Tickets Drivers for Using Electronic Devices

We are all familiar with driving under the influence. This commonly refers to driving after drinking or driving after consuming drugs. However, a new law in the State of Washington will now cost you for driving under the influence of something completely different.

The new law called driving under the influence of electronics, or E-DUI bans cell phone use or the use of another electronic device while a person is driving, at a stoplight, or stopped in traffic. The law went into effect back on July 23, 2017. Since the law came into play, 6475 distracted driver warnings have been issued across the state.

KOMO says until now, drivers have just been issued a warning. But, now if you’re caught using an electronic device while behind the wheel, you will be issued a ticket. While a normal DUI conviction can cost $20,000 or more, your first E-DUI ticket will cost the driver $136. if a driver is taking it again within five years of their first offense, the fine will go up to $234. In addition to the fines, all information regarding using electronic devices behind the wheels will be made available to insurance companies.

According to KEPR, hands-free devices will be restricted to a single touch. Washington State Patrol Chief John R. Batiste spoke with KOMO regarding driving while using devices.

“When you drive distracted, you are putting both yourself and other drivers in danger,” he said.”By eliminating distractions while driving, we will move closer to reaching the statewide Target Zero goal of no fatalities and serious injuries by 2030.”

Distracted driving fatalities increase to 32% from the years 2014 to 2015. This only applies to Washington State. Other types of distracted driving are also covered under this law. For example, say a driver runs a red light and a police officer is nearby to witness the action. If they run the light and did so due to things like putting on makeup or brushing their teeth while driving, they will be subject to a ticket. This ticket could set them back $99.

Wisconsin Fights For Dental Care For All With Boys and Girls Club

Dental care can get very expensive, and unfortunately that means that many people go without seeing the dentist as often as they should, or even at all. In fact, the number of children in the United States that go without dental care is up to 1 in 5. Fortunately, health care workers and activists around the country are passionate enough to try and solve this problem.

Just look to Dane County, Wisconsin, where a Boys and Girls club just opened a new dental clinic this January. This clinic is run by More Smiles Wisconsin, “a nonprofit organization offering low-cost dental services in south central Wisconsin,” according to the Cap Times. The dental care situation in Wisconsin seems a little bleak. More Smiles Wisconsin tells us that almost one third of the population of Wisconsin does not regularly visit a dentist.

This is why More Smiles and the Boys and Girls club are working tirelessly to provide critical dental care to young people in the area. This new location is actually the second clinic to be opened by More Smiles Wisconsin. After five years of planning, the organization was finally able to get a grant from Delta Dental, which turned their dreams into a reality.

More Smiles and their Boys and Girls Club clinics recognize how costly dental care can be, especially for those from low income families. To help these families, they accept insurance plans like Medicaid and Badgercare to provide care for those that do not have private health or dental insurance. In addition, they do not turn anyone away for their lack of ability to pay for the services they need. They even have serviced a homeless patient at their new clinic already.

More Smiles Wisconsin is hoping to open up a third clinic to service those on the north side of the county soon. Eventually, they would like to expand to the surrounding counties and even move out to the rural areas. Before they can do that, however, they are looking for more volunteers and donations to be able to grow their generous services.

These workers are, quite literally, bringing smiles to children’s faces.

MLB Hall of Fame Inductees Announced: Guerrero, Jones, Hoffman, and Thome

The National Baseball Hall of Fame announced its four new members.

Vladimir Guerrero, Chipper Jones, Trevor Hoffman, and Him Thome were all elected to the prestigious Hall on Wednesday.

According to ESPN, both Thome and Jones were elected in their first year of eligibility. This is also only the fourth time in the history of the Hall that the Baseball Writers’ Association of America elected four players (1947, 1955, and 2015).

“This is the day that’s going to change my life forever,” said Jones, who played his entire 19-year career with the Atlanta Braves. “We have a handful of those during our lifetime, transcendent moments that just change your life forever. Today was certainly one of them.”

Jones, the eight-time All-Star and 1999 National League MVP, was also the second number one overall draft pick to make it to the Hall of Fame (Ken Griffey Jr. in 2016).

Guerrero, who nearly missed gaining admission into the Hall last year on his first year of eligibility, garnered 92.9% of the vote to become the first Dominican-born position player in the Hall.

During a swing’s peak, a baseball bat can travel around 80 mph, and Vlad nearly perfected the art of the swing as he hit 449 home runs and slugged .553% during his career (with a .318 batting average) and won the 2004 American Leave MVP award.

Thome’s highlights over his illustrious 22-year career include hitting 612 home runs (eighth all-time), 1,747 walks (seven all-time), and drove in at least 100 runs nine times.

And Hoffman, the only pitcher on this year’s docket, ranks second in all-time career saves with 601 and was the first pitcher ever to reach both the 500- and 600-save mark. Hoffman spent 18 years in the MLB and 15 and a half of those seasons with the San Diego Padres — he garnered entry on his third try with 79.8% of the vote.

These four players, alongside veterans committee inductees Alan Trammell and Jack Morris, will be officially honored in Cooperstown, New York, on July 29, 2018.

ED Issues Could Be Early Indicator of Serious Heart Problems

Currently, there are over 30 million reported cases of erectile dysfunction throughout the United States. In addition to those 30 million reported cases, there are countless more unreported cases of U.S. males struggling with ED problems.

Unfortunately, there is no easy cure for these issues and they can actually lead to much more serious problems as well. Erectile dysfunction can lead to relationship issues, career problems, and negatively affect a person’s self-esteem. There are a few additional health concerns that ED can cause.

According to Reader’s Digest, ED could actually be an early indicator for atherosclerosis, a condition that builds up plaque inside a person’s arteries, raising the risk of potential heart attack and stroke.

A new study published in the journal Vascular Medicine analyzed 28 studies that previously took a look at the link between ED and heart disease.

Researchers found that people who suffer from ED also have thickening of one of the inner two layers of the carotid artery, which is another early indicator of heart disease.

“The presence of erectile dysfunction portends a higher risk of future cardiovascular events, particularly in intermediate-risk men, and may serve as an opportunity for intensification of cardiovascular risk prevention strategies,” said Naomi Hamburg, MD and Matt Kluge, MD, Boston University heart specialists. “The findings add to the growing evidence supporting additional trials to determine the clinical impact of erectile dysfunction screening and the appropriate cardiovascular directed evaluation and treatment of men with erectile dysfunction.”

Hopefully understanding some of the symptoms of ED can help prevent further health concerns down the road. Here are some of the symptoms of ED:

  • Trouble getting an erection.
  • Difficulty maintaining an erection during sex.
  • Reduced interest in sex.
  • Premature or delayed ejaculation.
  • Anorgasmia (the inability to achieve orgasm after sexual stimulation).

Trump’s New Estate Tax Law Helping The Wealthy

The new and final tax bill has some major advantages for wealthy Americans.

In late December, President Trump signed the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” into law, delivering $1.5 trillion dollars of tax cuts to various areas of the economy, including business entities, individual taxes, gift taxes, and more.

The estate tax exception will likely change under these new tax outlines, as well. For 2015, an individual could leave bequests (gifts to other individuals upon their death) worth up to $5.43 million free of any federal estate tax, which is the estate tax exception. But now, the new law doubles the estate tax exemption to $11.2 million and $22.4 million for couples.

“It’s a huge benefit to the wealthy,” said Beth Kaufman, an estate lawyer with Caplin and Drysdale in Washington, D.C.

According to, the new tax provisions will expire at the end of 2025. These new exception policies, however, will eliminate estate tax liability for individuals with estate assets between $5.6 and $11.2 million (plus double for couples). Unless Congress votes in the future to extend it, the estate tax would likely revert close to the previous level by 2025, too, although slightly higher because of the substitution of the chained Consumer Price Index for the current CPI formula.

“Most estate tax is paid by extremely wealthy people, so even doubling the exemption leaves most of it in place,” added Eric Toder, co-director of the Tax Policy Center.

Forbes adds that the tax bill doesn’t affect the changes to the rules in terms of step-up basis at death. Meaning, when a person dies, their heirs’ cost basis in the assets left to them will be reset at the specific value after death.

There should be many more legislative battles over the course of the next few years in terms of these new tax provisions, but critics of the estate tax are celebrating a long awaited victory this January.

Facial Hair Transplants on Men are the Next Big Thing

Half of a man’s head of hair will be gone prior to it becoming cosmetically visible. As many men throughout the country struggle with hair loss on top of their heads, many men also deal with thinning or non-existent beards.

To combat the lack of beard hair, many men are turning to facial hair transplants. According to WNDU, Dr. Ken Williams of the Irvine Institute of Medicine and Cosmetic Surgery has seen a large number of people looking for more hair on their faces.

“We take that hair from the back of the occipital region of the scalp,” Dr. Williams said. “We take that hair, and we transplant it and individually insert it into the face where hair follicles are lacking.”

This process can take either a few hours or almost an entire day. The facial hair will then fall out within two to three weeks, but regrows within three months. Doctors find that it is as successful as a regular hair transplant.

Dr. Williams says that the procedure can work on anyone who is looking for a fuller beard. He says that many people change their beards for religious reasons, to cover scars, or for transgenders.

“It doesn’t matter what gender they are, which orientation they are, the color of their hair, the color of their skin,” he said. “This is something that can be done for anybody who wants facial hair.”

A man who goes by the name of Justin wanted a fuller beard. He said he with his current facial hair situation, there wasn’t a lot going on.

“I just wanted a more distinguished look,” Justin said. “I’ve always wanted to be able to grow like a full beard.”

Justin says he spent about $20 thousand on three procedures. Even though that was a lot of his money, he said that it was worth it in the end.

“It’s just fuller,” Justin said. “It’s just fuller, thicker, which is exactly what I was going for.”

Central Florida Woman Wants Changes to Sedation Dentistry After Losing Her Son

The dental hygiene sector has gained advanced training and knowledge on how to properly administer dental sedation, especially for pediatric use. In fact, each year there are roughly 250,000 pediatric dental sedations performed, making the practice much more widespread. Sadly, despite all the technology and information dental professionals have available to them, there are still complications every so often.

A Central Florida mother is trying to get lawmakers to take a closer look at the entire practice of sedation dentistry after she lost her son two days after his dental extraction.

According to Click Orlando, 17-year-old Christopher Power was in for what was supposed to be a simple dental procedure to remove a few teeth before he got braces. But he stopped breathing once he was under anesthesia.

“Not having my child leaving with me, it’s heartbreaking for any parent,” said Alison Power, Christopher’s mother.

Alison now wants lawmakers, both locally and nationally, to take a closer look into how sedation dentistry is governed and administered within the dental community.

“He will not die in vain,” she added.

The dentist who performed Christopher’s procedure, Dr. Steven Baxter, actually had two other administrative complaints on file with the Florida Board of Dentistry for failing to take a preoperative radiograph during a dental surgery in 2014 and 2001.

Power was under the impression that Dr. Baxter was, in fact, an oral surgeon, but he is not.

“I’d seen no reason not to trust him,” she said. “The way it is being done right now, [with] someone in the room who has no knowledge, it’s unacceptable.”

Power has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Baxter and asked the Board of Dentistry to revoke or suspend his dental license. She now wears a green wristband to honor Christopher’s memory.

So far, no hearing has been set in the case before the Board of Dentistry. Until the wrongful death lawsuit is resolved, the grieving mother has another mission: to get Florida lawmakers to take a closer look at the sedation dentistry industry.

When improperly administered, anesthesia can be extremely dangerous, and Power wants to ensure sedation dentists are qualified to administer any drugs they give to patients in the future.

Texas Residents File Lawsuit Against Arkema Over Chemical Fires

Residents of Crosby, Texas have filed a federal lawsuit against the chemical manufacturer, Arkema, after finding and experiencing traces of toxic chemicals. According to NPR, the lawsuit charges Arkema with failing to notify residents of Crosby of the danger posed by the chemical fires.

The fires were caused at the plant site as the result of flooding by Hurricane Harvey. NPR reports that homes were affected by the plant’s chemicals miles away from the evacuation site.

Among the affected homeowners is Shannan Wheeler, 52, a petrochemical facility engineer. Wheeler’s home is located more than three miles away from the chemical plant.

“We actually heard and felt the boom out here,” Wheeler said to ABC. “[The smoke] didn’t rise, it simply spread like a rolling wave. Right over our house.”

Arkema stores and making organic peroxides, which are used for plastic manufacturing. Temperatures affect these chemicals drastically. Unlike semi-synthetic lubricants, which contain less than 30% of oil and change in viscosity depending on the temperature, the organic peroxides made by Arkema need to be refrigerated to keep them from igniting.

Up to 40% of American workers report their job as being very stressful. Arkema workers were certainly among this percentage during Hurricane Harvey. Arkema workers had to move the chemicals from the plant into refrigerated trailers. However, once the plant workers were evacuated due to rising flood waters, the trailers also flooded.

The rising temperatures caused the chemicals to catch fire. As a result, an emergency evacuation zone was put into effect within a 1.5-mile radius of the plant.

Residents living miles away could see the smoke over the course of five days and began to worry about the toxins in the air. Richard Rennard, an Arkema spokesperson and executive, reportedthat the smoke was noxious. “If you breathe in the smoke,” he said, “it’s going to irritate your lungs.” Despite these health effects, neither local emergency officials nor those at Arkema gave precautions to those living outside the evacuation zone.

Beginning on Thursday, August 31, Wheeler began noticing a putrid smell to the air and fog in the surrounding area. The morning of Friday, September 1, his family found black splotches of oil in their flower beds. On Sunday, September 3, emergency officials and Arkema chose to ignite the remaining containers of chemicals as a way to eliminate any possible hazards.

“All of the product has been successfully and safely burned,” said Rennard during a press conference. “We have seen no evidence of any issues with [air quality monitoring] results.”

One week later, while mowing his lawn, Wheeler began to experience welts along his hands and wrists. Wheeler’s doctor diagnosed the welts as dermatitis caused by chemical exposure.

Wheeler is now just one of 14 other plaintiffs who suffered from injuries and respiratory problems as a possible result of the fires. One plaintiff reports suffering from lesions and burns on his legs resembling poison ivy, which can be found in every state but Alaska and Hawaii, after walking through floodwaters.

In a separate, but related lawsuit, a group of first responders also experienced health problems as a supposed result of the Arkema fires. The lawsuit claims police officers were unable to breathe and were vomiting as a result of toxic fumes.

What’s more is that up to 17% of everything printed in an office environment is considered waste. Compared to this percentage, approximately 65,000 pounds of chemicals and 17,000 pounds of other matter were reported to have been released into the air from the Arkema fires during Hurricane Harvey.

A criminal investigation is currently underway by the Harris County District Attorney. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Environmental Protection Agency are also investigating the Arkema fires.