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.


There goes the sun: Solar eclipse 2012 comes to Southland skies this Sunday

Children wear special glasses as they wa


2012 is turning out to be a banner year for area sky-watchers. It was just a couple of weeks ago when we were discussing how to best experience the “super moon” that loomed large over the city on Saturday night, May 5.

An equally rare astronomical occurrence happens this weekend: The first annular solar eclipse since 1994 that will be visible in Southland skies is due early this Sunday evening.

As reported by the L.A. Times, this “ring of fire” eclipse (when the moon and sun align perfectly, the moon appearing to block out most of the sun other than the outermost edges) will begin locally at 5:42 p.m. on Sunday night, peak at 6:38 p.m. and finish by 7:42 p.m., just 10 minutes before sunset at 7:52 p.m. Convenient, considering it is a school night. 

The Times warns that attempting to take in the eclipse along the coast is a dicey proposition that could leave viewers disappointed, depending on the weather (fog and low clouds are a real view-killer). Still, expect large crowds on SoCal beaches, so plan accordingly.


Here comes the sun: Dept. of Energy to bring Solar Decathlon to California

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Photo: Mike Spasoff/Flickr

 There sure is a lot of solar energy flying around these parts lately. Just this week we saw a sun storm that didn’t result in global catastrophe (yet), and we learned that California is still far and away America’s most solar powered state, and by a lot.

Still, it came as something of a surprise this week when U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced that the 2013 Solar Decathlon will happen in California, the first time the bi-annual event has occurred outside of Washington, D.C. since it’s inception in 2002.

The Solar Decathlon challenges 20 college teams to design and build efficient homes that are solar-powered. Among the criteria is that the structures be affordable, comfortable, and produces as much or more energy that it uses. The 20 structures will be showcased at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, CA.


Photo of the Day: Watch the vivid yellow of the sun's coronal mass ejection

NASA/Solar Dynamics Observatory

Coronal mass ejections have no potential to hurt people, but they can affect communications systems and satellites.

NASA/Solar Dynamics Observatory

Gases that are heated and electronically supercharged brighten the surface of the sun.

NASA/Solar Dynamics Observatory

Solar material ends up flowing off into space. That's the bright spot.

Sometimes, journalists spend all day monitoring regulatory hearings. So it has been with the advanced clean cars provram at the Air Resources Board (here in LA, happening at the Metropolitan Water District offices). It's risky business, alright. You run the risk of going cross eyed listening to public comment, techncial talk, and discussion among board members. Someday I'm going to come up with a bingo board for regulatory hearings, and it will include phrases like "kicking the can down the road," "broad cross-section of stakeholders," "landmark," and "bravo." At some point this afternoon, one guy in favor of what the Air Resources Board is doing spoke just after several specialty and minority Chambers of Commerce that don't, and he remarked on it. Chair Mary Nichols must have been punchy, because she advised the guy to form a chamber of commerce of his own.