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Health Highlights: Oct. 19, 2017

Ash From California Wildfires a Potential Health Threat Lawsuits Target Diet Soda Marketing

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Ash From California Wildfires a Potential Health Threat

Ash from homes and cars burned in wildfires is a potential health threat to residents and clean-up crews that could persist for years, according to health officials in Sonoma and Napa Counties in California.

American Red Cross volunteers are handing out hundreds of face masks every day, CBS News reported.

People should stay inside, especially children and those with lung problems, advised Scott Alonso of the Sonoma County Department of Public Health.

"And also, when you're driving, make sure your AC is on re-circulate," said Alonso, CBS News reported. "Protecting yourself from that, so your air filters are doing all the work for you and they're not bringing in that outside air."

The long-term health effects of smoke- and ash-laden are unknown, but people can reduce the risk of serious illness by remaining patient and not cleaning up their homes, Alonso said.


Lawsuits Target Diet Soda Marketing

The three largest carbonated beverage makers in the United States are being sued for allegedly misleading consumers about diet sodas.

The federal lawsuits were filed Oct. 16 and accuse Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Dr Pepper Snapple Group of marketing their diet sodas in way that makes consumers believe the products will help them lose or manage weight, while research has shown the opposite is true, CBS News reported.

According to the lawsuits, the companies' use of the word "diet" in the products' "false misleading and unlawful" marketing could make a "reasonable consumer" believe the drinks are a diet aid.

"What's been going on is clearly deceptive advertising," said Abraham Melamed, one of the attorneys behind the case, CBS News reported. "In our opinion, it's one of the biggest consumer scams in the last 50 years, and it has to stop. There's a strong sense of urgency because there are hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of consumers out there that are being deceived on a daily basis."

A Coca-Cola spokeswoman said the lawsuit against it is "completely meritless." PepisCo and Dr. Pepper Snapple declined to comment, CBS News reported.

Consumer News