Pacific Swell | Southern California environment news and trends

Morning greens: Flea-borne typhus is on the rise in Orange County, residents and cats on notice

Meanwhile, preserving the state fish has ranchers on edge. And remember when we reported that popular jewelry manufacturers settled with California about the levels of cadmium in their jewelry. Now they are pledging to “self-regulate.” Here’s your Tuesday morning greens.

Flea-borne typhus is on the rise in Orange County. CBS LA reports that Orange County health officials say five cases of flea-borne typhus have cropped up recently. The disease is transported by fleas from cats, opossums and rodents.  Symptoms include fever, muscle aches, and rash. Official urge residents to take steps to eliminate fleas from their homes and pets.

A dispute over the California golden trout, the official state fish, may influence ranchers in the state. Cow grazing options are set to expire this year in parts of the 300,000-acre wilderness next to Sequoia National Park. Now, “the U.S. Forest Service is studying three options: extend the experiment, eliminate grazing on all four allotments or forge an agreement with ranchers eager to run cattle over the rested meadows,” reports the Los Angeles Times. Meanwhile, area golden trout, a candidate for listing as an endangered species, remains threatened by the herds. The conflict has pitted ranchers against activists against the government.

Recently, we reported the popular retailers settled with California about toxic levels of cadmium in jewelry. Now ABC 7 reports that the U.S. jewelry industry has agreed to voluntarily limit the toxic metal cadmium in items aimed at children. “The new .03 limit is voluntary, but the Consumer Product Safety Commission says it will use the limit in deciding whether to pursue product recalls,” writes ABC 7. The agency says that unless it sees widespread failure to comply, the limits will not be mandatory. No word on who plans to check to see who is complying.

Robots are extracting coolants from old refrigerators. Refrigerators made more than 15 years ago often contain dangerous liquids extremely harmful to the environment. As the New York Times reports, a few companies are going the extra mile to safely remove the coolants by using robotic systems. As the NY Times writes, “Appliance Recycling Centers of America, a company based in Minneapolis with a chain of recycling depots, recently unveiled a 40-foot-tall behemoth that dismantles refrigerators the environmental way, extracting the coolant until only 0.2 percent is left.

Nobel Laureate and environmental visionary Wangari Maathai of Kenya passed away Monday. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu spoke of Maathai, “"At last count, the Green Belt Movement she helped to found had assisted women to plant more than 40 million trees. She understood and acted on the inextricable links between poverty, rights and environmental sustainability.” The activist died at age 71 from ovarian cancer.

Image: dphiffer/Flickr