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Health Highlights: Nov. 19, 2015

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

NFL's $1 Billion Concussion Lawsuit Settlement Goes to Appeals Court

A proposed $1 billion plan to settle thousands of concussion lawsuits filed against the NFL by former players goes to an appeals court Thursday.

Opponents of the settlement say it benefits some retired players at the expense of others, the Associated Press reported.

Former players with Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and advanced dementia could receive awards of several million dollars, but there are no awards for depression, mood disorders or seizures that may be linked to concussions.

Critics also note that there are no awards for future cases of a degenerative brain disorder called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), found after the suicides of troubled former players, the AP reported.

"Class counsel bargained away the rights of more than 20,000 former NFL players - many of whom are suffering the serious effects of CTE, fairly called 'football's industrial disease.' This alone is reason to reject the settlement," lawyer Steven Molo wrote on behalf of clients appealing the settlement.

Prior cases of players found to have CTE after their death could lead to awards of up to $4 million, but there is a cutoff date to reduce the risk of player suicides. CTE can only be diagnosed after death.

The settlement, approved last year by a senior U.S. District Court judge, offers players baseline neurological testing and related medical claims for 65 years, the AP reported.

The appeal will be heard before a three-judge panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court.

About 6,000 former players, or nearly three in 10, will develop moderate dementia or Alzheimer's disease, according to the NFL. Under the proposed settlement, those players would likely receive an average of $190,000, the AP reported.

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Last of U.S. Government-Owned Chimps to be Retired

The last remaining research chimpanzees at the U.S. National Institutes of Health will be retired as soon as there is space for them at a federal sanctuary.

In 2013, the NIH announced it would retire most of the several hundred government-owned chimps in research laboratories, but said it would keep 50 chimps in case they were needed for a health emergency, the Associated Press reported.

Those remaining chimps are now being retired, the NIH said Wednesday.

"It's time to say we've reached the point in the U.S. where invasive research on chimpanzees is no longer something that makes sense," NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins said, the AP reported.

So far, about 300 government-owned chimps have been sent to the federally-approved Chimp Haven sanctuary in Louisiana.

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EPA Plans Tighter Limits on Downwind Air Pollution

Tighter limits on downwind air pollution from 23 states have been proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The agency also plans to remove Florida and South Carolina from the "good neighbor" rule because they don't send significant amounts of air pollution to other states, the Associated Press reported.

The rule applies mainly to states in the South and Midwest that produce air pollution that travels to the East Coast.

"This update will help protect the health and lives of millions of Americans by reducing exposure to ozone pollution, which is linked to serious public health effects including reduced lung function, asthma ... and early death from respiratory and cardiovascular causes," EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said in a statement, the AP reported.


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