Southern California environment news and trends

FDA: Sun and sunscreen is bad for babies under six months old

With the summer season peaking, kids out of school on vacation and temperatures soaring across the country, outdoor activities are in full swing. But if that family outing includes a baby under the age of six months, a recent consumer update from the U. S. Food & Drug Administration says extra precautions need to be taken in order to keep them safe from the sun’s harmful rays, including not exposing them to sunscreen.

“The best approach is to keep infants under 6 months out of the sun,” said Cheryl Sachs, a pediatrician at the FDA in the consumer update, “and to avoid exposure to the sun in the hours between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when ultraviolet (UV) rays are most intense.”

The thinness of a baby’s skin makes them much more susceptible to the chemicals found in most sunscreen products, as does as a high surface-area to body-weight ratio compared to older kids and adults. The FDA recommends keeping little ones in shaded areas as much as possible, and to dress them in hats and clothing that protect sensitive skin areas.

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International Surfing Day officially kicks off California summer

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GREGORY BOISSY/AFP/Getty Images

Surfer Kelly Slater rides a wave.

Wednesday, June 20, marks the Summer solstice, the longest day of the year. This year, however, the date will also make official a summery surf holiday of which the Beach Boys will surely approve.

As announced by the Surfrider Foundation, the California Assembly this week approved House Resolution No. 30, declaring June 20 as International Surfing Day. Even better, Surfrider Foundation Chief Executive Jim Moriarty has already written an official “sick note” for working surfers to show their employers to excuse any surf-related absences.

The sick note might seem like a well-conceived joke, but it’s already worked for legislative deputy Kevin Bigham, who used it to convince his boss L.A. City Councilman Joe Buscaino to give him the day off to hit the beach. Maybe combining the letter with the video is the way to go for aspiring Wednesday surfers? Send an email to info@surfrider.org, and they will send back your very own sick note.

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Heat-related deaths expected to soar in U.S.

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Image: Cimexus/Flickr

According to a new report from the National Resources Defense Council, climate change could lead to as many 150,000 more Americans dying from heat-related causes by the end of the century.

As reported by Think Progress, the study, entitled “Killer Summer Heat,” looks at the projected numbers across 40 American cities, and it’s not pretty. With Louisville, KY (19,000 deaths) and Detroit, MI (18,000 deaths) leading the pack, Los Angeles clocks in at 1,200 projected heat-related deaths by the year 2099.

"This is a wake-up call. Climate change has a number of real life-and-death consequences. One of which is that as carbon pollution continues to grow, climate change is only going to increase the number of dangerously hot days each summer, leading to a dramatic increase in the number of lives lost," said Dan Lashof, director of NRDC's climate and clean air program in a press release. "To prevent the health impacts of climate change from getting even worse, we need to establish a comprehensive program to reduce heat-trapping pollution from all sources, by building on the Environmental Protection Agency's proposals to limit carbon pollution from new power plants and cars."

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Rattlesnake season arrives early in the Southland

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David McNew/Getty Images

Now that spring is in full swing and the unofficial arrival of summer is upon us with Memorial Day weekend, outdoor enthusiasts aren’t the only ones getting an early start on sun-kissed activities. According to the L.A. Zoo and California Poison Control System, the local rattlesnake population is coming out of hibernation early this year, with the potential of a larger snake infestation than usual.

“Fatality, loss of limb, some really severe injuries, medical procedures are necessary to save limbs and life,” said Fish & Game biologist Kevin Brennan about the grisly results of a rattlesnake bite to CBS Local. Officials estimate that California sees one or two fatal rattlesnake bites annually.

Hikers and anyone spending extended time roaming through brush areas are encouraged to wear long pants that cover shoe tops, and to bypass areas where the ground is not fully visible. With a “bumper crop” of baby rattlesnake births expected this season, don’t think the little ones are any less dangerous. Their venom is just as poisonous.

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Deciphering the new L.A. beach ordinance (and yes, you can get fined for throwing a football)

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Ron Almog/Flickr

It just looks so innocent...

What we’ve got here, to paraphrase the Captain from movie Cool Hand Luke, is a failure to communicate.

Like many of you, I was taken aback and more than a little perplexed by yesterday’s news claiming that Frisbee-tossing and football throwing had been deemed a fineable misdemeanor on L.A. County beaches over the summer months.

Doing my due diligence, my research included reading the entire 37-page ordinance explaining the various nuances of this new ban. Turning to Section 28, 17.12.150 on pg. 15, I read the following passage:

“A violation of this chapter is a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine not exceeding $1,000, and/or imprisonment in the county jail for a period not exceeding 6 months.”

This is the magic passage that caught my eye. While it seemed excessive, it wasn’t outside of the realm of possibility. Footballs and Frisbees are projectiles, and on a crowded beach could become quite dangerous.

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