Don’t Waste Your E-Waste: Put it to Work

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In 2012, the United Nations reported that in five years, the world’s electronic waste would grow by 33% from 49.7 million tons to 65.4 million tons—that’s the weight of 200 Empire State Buildings or 11 Great Pyramids of Giza.

Nearly five years after that prediction, we have arrived.

Of the estimated $655.8 billion the National Retail Federation predicts Americans will spend this holiday season, a good majority will be spent on electronic devices, which will be replacing current electronic devices, and which will eventually be replaced by newer, more improved electronic devices.

You get the idea.

In California, it is illegal to throw certain electronic devices—phones, TVs, laptops, computer monitors, DVD players, VCRs, etc.—in the trash. Fortunately, there are many options available that can keep them out of California’s waste stream and keep you from throwing them into a drawer or tripping over them in the garage.ecoatm01

You can get money for them. Places like EcoATM will give you cash for your devices. If you send your device to online source Gazelle, you will get a check in return.

You can donate them to a nonprofit. Cell Phones for Soldiers provides cost-free communication services to active-duty military and veterans. New or gently used mobile phones turn into hours of free talk time for the soldiers. Verizon’s HopeLine helps support victims and survivors of domestic violence while ensuring that phones are reused in an environmentally responsible way. Secure the Call provides free 911 emergency-only cell phones to Senior Citizen Centers, Domestic Violence Shelters and Police and Sheriff Departments.

You can recycle them. California, the United States leader in renewable energy and recycling, passed the Electronic Waste Recycling Act in 2003. The Act required consumers to pay a point-of-purchase recycling fee when buying a new electronic device in the state, which, in turn, funds recycling programs such as CalRecycle. Electronic devices that cannot be reused or repaired can be recycled at any eRecycle location throughout the state.To find a local e-waste recycling center, visit calrecycle.ca.gov or call (800) RECYCLE.

 

California’s New Laws for 2017

scalesIn 2016, Governor Brown signed into law 898 pieces of legislation. Here’s a sampling of some of the new state laws:

Barbering and booze: Under Assembly Bill (AB) 1322, Board of Barbering and Cosmetology-licensed beauty salons and barbershops can serve up to 12 ounces of beer or 6 ounces of wine to customers without having an alcoholic beverage license or permit. The businesses cannot charge for the alcohol.

Building construction: Senate Bill (SB) 465 requires the California Department of Industrial Relations and the Division of Occupational Safety and Health to tell the Contractors State License Board when the state punishes disobedient contractors.

Gun laws: SB 880 and AB 1135 ban the sale of semi-automatic, centerfire rifles or semi-automatic pistols that do not have a fixed magazine. AB 1511 outlaws most gun loans.

Sexual assault: AB 2888 mandates a prison term for sexually assaulting unconscious individuals. This legislation is the result of a reaction to the jail sentence of a Stanford student who assaulted an unconscious woman and received a jail sentence in June 2016, but was released in September.

Distracted driving: Under AB 1785, drivers cannot hold or operate their devices for any reason. Exceptions are functions that require only a single swipe or tap of the driver’s finger, as long as the phone is mounted in the car.

Car seats: AB 53 requires that children under 2 years old be put in rear-facing child safety seats, except for kids who are at least 40 pounds or 40 inches tall. Children under 8 years old must ride in the back seat of a car.

Voter registration and ballots: AB 1436, which passed in 2012 but takes effect January 1, allows people to register on the day of an election. SB 450 allows voters to return mail ballots at any county elections office in the state, not just the county that issued the ballot.

Dogs in cars: AB 797 allows good Samaritans to help free animals showing signs of distress in a hot car. They must first contact law enforcement and wait for them to show up.

Gender-neutral bathrooms: AB 1732 requires that all single-toilet restrooms in schools, businesses, and public places be designated as gender neutral.

Minimum wage increase: SB 3 raises the minimum wage for workers at businesses that have 26 or more employees from $10 to $10.50 per hour. Yearly increases under the law will bump the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022.

Uber/Lift background checks: Under AB 1289, drivers for ride-booking companies will have their entire driver’s record checked.

Terminally ill and the “Right to Try”: AB 1668 allows terminally ill patients to try experimental drugs that have not yet had full federal approval for clinical trials.

For more details on California’s new laws, visit the Governor’s website at www.gov.ca.gov. For a list of all the new laws, go to www.leginfo.ca.gov/pdf/BillsEnactedReport2016.pdf.

 

 

 

Ticks Don’t Take a Winter Vacation

You may think that in winter you don’t have to worry about tick prevention, but if you live in any of California’s snow-free, temperate regions, adult ticks and emerging nymphs pose a threat all year long. Adult ticks are active from October to May, while younger and smaller nymphal ticks—about the size of a sesame seed—are active from January to October.

The three most common ticks in California (from top to bottom): The Western Black-Legged Tick, the Pacific Coast Tick, and the American Dog Tick.

The three most common ticks in California (from top to bottom): The Western Black-Legged Tick, the Pacific Coast Tick, and the American Dog Tick.

Ticks are nasty parasites, but they serve a purpose in the circle of life. They are food for reptiles, amphibians and birds; they host a variety of other organisms (many of those bad for humans); and because they carry diseases and drain blood, they act as a natural population control for their larger hosts—we just don’t want those “larger hosts” to be ourselves or our pets.

These mini-vampires can transmit a number of diseases including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tick-borne relapsing fever, tularemia, babesiosis, anaplasmosis and erlichiosis. Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne disease in California, but luckily, most tick bites don’t transmit disease.

If you’ve been bitten by a tick, the Medical Board of California offers some advice—and an illustration of how to take out the tick—on page 10 of this issue of the Medical Board of California Newsletter.  Lyme disease is treated with antibiotics and most patients recover completely without complications if the infection is caught early. But if left untreated, the disease can cause arthritis or nervous system disorders.

Once a tick is discovered, it should be pulled out as quickly as possible.  After you remove the tick, be sure to wash your hands and apply antiseptic to the bite area. Old-fashioned tick removal remedies such as insecticides, lighted matches, gasoline, petroleum jelly or liquid soaps don’t work and may cause injury to you or your pet.

The best way to protect your pets from ticks is through the use of monthly flea and tick preventatives, which are available from your veterinarian. If you are looking for a veterinarian, don’t forget to check the license first with the Veterinary Medical Board of California.

When working with or looking for tick prevention, the American Veterinary Medical Association recommends you:
  • Discuss the use of preventive products, including over-the-counter products, with your veterinarian to determine the safest and most effective choice for each pet.
  • Always talk to your veterinarian before applying any spot-on products, especially if your dog or cat is very young, old, pregnant, nursing, or on any medications.
  • Only purchase EPA-registered pesticides or FDA-approved medicines.
  • Read the entire label before you use/apply the product.
  • Always follow label directions! Apply or give the product as and when directed. Never apply more or less than the recommended dose.
  • Remember, cats are not small dogs. Products labeled for use only for dogs should only be used for dogs, and never for cats.
  • Make sure that the weight range listed on the label is correct for your pet because weight matters. Giving a smaller dog a dose designed for a larger dog could cause the animal harm.

Preventing a tick bite is important and you need to take precautions when you or your pets enter tick habitats such as tall grass and brush in urban, suburban, and rural settings. Below are a few things you can do while outdoors:

  • Wear light-colored clothing to make it easier to see ticks if they are on your clothes.
  • Tuck your pants into your socks when you are walking, hiking, or working in tick areas.
  • Use repellents containing at least 20% DEET.
  • Do tick checks for several days after you or your pets have been in tick habitat. Pay close attention to the hairline, waistline and armpits.
  • Remove attached ticks immediately. This can reduce the risk of transmission of Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases.
  • Seek medical attention if you, a family member, or your pet becomes ill after a tick bite.

To see additional photos or find out more information about ticks, visit the Centers for Disease Control’s information page.

 

 

Put the Squeeze on Dealers That Sell Lemons

California resident Travis Z. Gonzales thought he had purchased a car at the Costa Mesa CarMax location. Instead, the 2007 Infiniti G35 he drove out of the lot was actually a lemon on wheels.

Shortly after buying the car, Gonzales began experiencing several mechanical problems such aDevicess malfunctioning windows, transmission problems and instrument panel warning lights that illuminated routinely or in clusters. Plus, the brake pads needed to be replaced.

Gonzales filed a lawsuit against CarMax, alleging that he made the decision to purchase his vehicle from the dealership based upon the CarMax ads that highlight the benefits of its 125-point inspection.

He won. In October, a federal U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled that CarMax’s inspection process violates California’s Car Buyer’s Bill of Rights. The bill, passed in 2006, requires dealers of certified used vehicles to conduct and provide consumers with a checklist of every component that has been inspected and if those components satisfactorily passed the inspection. Evidence in the case proved that CarMax provides a list of components inspected, but does not provide information about the status of those components.

Put the Squeeze on For Free

If you find yourself with a lemon in your driveway, there is another option to going to court:  you can take advantage of California’s Lemon Law, which is regulated by the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Arbitration Certification Program (ACP). The Lemon Law covers new and used vehicles sold or leased in California that come with the manufacturer’s new vehicle warranty. The arbitration process is free and no attorney is needed. You can find out more about the Lemon Law and what it covers in ACP’s booklet, Lemon-Aid for Consumers, available online in both English and Spanish at www.dca.ca.gov/acp.

Holiday Stress: Tips to Help You Cope

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The holidays are here—and so are the squeeze of time constraints, budget-busting shopping, and being over-obligated. Travel can also add to the stress of the season. But, there are steps you can take to turn down the pressure gauges so you can relax and experience a joyful time with family and friends. Here are some suggestions from WebMD:

  • Know your spending limit and stick to it. American consumers plan to spend an average $935.58 during the holiday shopping season this year, according to a National Retail Federation survey conducted by Prosper Insights. That’s a LOT. Don’t buy gifts that you’ll spend the rest of the year trying to pay off or saddle yourself with credit card interest charges.
  • Give something personal. You can show love and caring with any gift that is meaningful and personal. It doesn’t have to cost a lot. It could be homemade goodies! Or use words instead of an expensive gift to let people know how important they are to you. Make a phone call or write a note and share your feelings.
  • Get organized. Make lists or use an appointment book to keep track of tasks to do, events to attend and mailing deadlines for cards and packages.
  • Share the tasks. You don’t have to do everything yourself. Share your “to do” list with others. Spend time with friends and family while you share tasks like decorating, wrapping gifts, and preparing the holiday meal.
  • Learn to say “no.” It’s okay to say “no” to events that aren’t important to you. This will give you more time to say “yes” to events that you do want to attend. Consider having flowers or a gift basket sent to those whose invitations you must turn down.
  • Be realistic. Try not to put pressure on yourself to create the perfect holiday for your family. Focus instead on the traditions that make holidays special for you. And remember that family problems don’t go away just because of the time of year. If you have a hard time being around your relatives, it’s OK to set limits on your time at events and visits.

It’s also important to make sure you care for yourself during the holidays the same way you do the rest of the year—eat right, get enough sleep and exercise. If the stress gets to be too much, 12-28-09 ornaments083.jpgemployee assistance programs at your place of work may provide access to confidential, no-cost counseling services and resources (check with your human resources department). If you need professional help, remember to check the provider’s license first with the Board of Psychology and Board of Behavioral Sciences. These two sites also offer links to mental health resources, such as the American Psychological Association’s page on stress. If you’re on the road this season, you may want to access the State Board of Pharmacy’s Traveling Medicine Chest fact sheet to help ensure your good times or travel plans are not affected by minor illnesses.

Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation Chief Lori Ajax Serves on Emerald Cup Government Agencies Panel

The Government Agencies panel fields questions from attendees of the 13th Annual Emeral d Cup

The Government Agencies panel fields questions from audience members at the 13th Annual Emerald Cup

Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation Chief Lori Ajax participated in the Government Agencies panel at the 13th Annual Emerald Cup, held recently at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, Calif.

The Emerald Cup bills itself as California’s premier outdoor organic medicinal cannabis competition for growing and breeding. The two-day event boasts thousands of attendees who hear industry leaders in panel discussions and interact with innovative vendors.

With a booming industry and changing regulation, the panel provided a clearer picture of the current regulatory climate, not only for the end consumer but also the cultivators and workers within the industry.

Chief Ajax was able to share her perspectives having spent most of her career regulating the alcohol industry. She began her tenure with the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control as an investigator in the field and worked her way up through the ranks to Chief Deputy Director, gaining valuable experience to apply to another heavily regulated product, cannabis.

Other panel members included Assemblyman Jim Wood, who authored the Marijuana Watershed Protection Act which serves as the environmental cornerstone in California’s Medical Marijuana Regulations and Safety Act; Fiona Ma, a certified public tax accountant and Chairwoman of the California Board of Equalization; California Department of Pesticide Regulation Director Brian Leahy, a pioneer in organic and biodiversity farming; and Nathaniel Arnold, Assistant Chief of Law Enforcement from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

“Participating in industry events like this helps us answer questions from the public and inform them about the bureau’s regulations development activities and gives bureau staff the opportunity to hear the industry perspectives,” said Chief Ajax.

To learn more about the regulations process and how to get involved, visit http://bmcr.ca.gov/meetings/materials/fact_sheet_regulations_process.pdf.

MEN! THE NURSING FIELD WANTS YOU!

NURSING TODAY

Thanks to the aging of our population, demand for healthcare services and the number of nurses preparing to retire from the workforce, the job outlook for careers in the field of nursing is promising.

The potential demand for more healthcare providers has created a need for an increase in recruitment and retention of registered nurses (RNs).  A high priority is focused on greater male-nurse-2recruitment of men, with an emphasis on ethnic and national diversity.

It is a great time for men to consider a career in nursing!

OPPORTUNITIES AND BENEFITS

Male nurses are not a new phenomenon.  Historically, nursing had significant male representation until the 1800s.  During the Civil War, a shift began when men were engaged in other pursuits and women stepped into those positions.  By the 1900s, nursing schools were admitting only women, and the Army and Navy Nurse Corps were limited to women.  Men were not allowed to serve in nursing positions in those organizations until after the Korean War.  Currently, women make up the majority of nurses (2011 American Community Survey).  However, since the 1970s, the number of men in the profession has continuously grown as more men discover the richness of career opportunities available in the nursing profession.

“Show me the money!” – Rod Tidwell, Jerry Maguire (1996)

According to recent surveys, RNs have very low unemployment rates because of high demand for skilled nursing care, and annual salaries range from $60,700 to $162,900.

NURSING OCCUPATIONS AND WHAT THEY DO

  • Registered Nurse – Assess patient health problems and needs, develop and implement nursing care plans, maintain medical records, and administer holistic healthcare.  Average pay is $60,000-plus.
  • Nurse Anesthetists – Administer anesthesia and monitor patients’ recovery from anesthesia.  Specialized graduate education is required.  Average pay is $150,000-plus.
  • Nurse-Midwife – Diagnose and coordinate all aspects of the birthing process and provide gynecological care.  Specialized graduate education is required.  Average pay is $80,000-plus.
  • Nurse Practitioner – Diagnose and treat illnesses and may order, perform, or interpret diagnostic tests.  May prescribe medications and work as a healthcare consultant.  Specialized graduate education is required.  Average pay is $80,000-plus.

LIKE WHAT YOU’VE READ SO FAR?

There are many routes to travel to arrive at a nursing career.  Whether you’re still in high school, a college student, or weighing a career change, consider a career in nursing that will allow you to make a positive difference in the lives of others while also achieving your personal and financial goals.men-in-nursing-pic

The California Board of Registered Nursing has helpful resources available to you to assist in your research of a career in nursing.  The brochure “Consider A Rewarding  Career In Nursing!” is available online at the Board of Registered Nursing’s Web site, www.rn.ca.gov.

 

 

 

 

The High Price of Insulin

The cost of another life-saving drug has dramatically increased.

Back in September, the price of a two-pack of EpiPens, a widely used medication for severe allergic reactions, skyrocketed to $614—up from $100 back in 2007. The next drug with a soaring price tag: insulin.

However, unlike EpiPens, insulin drugs must be taken on a daily basis. This can be extremely costly, especially when you’re looking at possibly $120 to $400 per vial of insulin per month, according to a Johns Hopkins Medicine shutterstock_525594898news release in March 2015. Additionally, unlike many other drugs, there are no generics on the market.

According to an October Washington Post article, a vial of insulin cost $17 in 1997 and is today priced at $138. Another version with a price of $21 per vial 20 years ago now costs $255. If you have health insurance, the list price may not be apparent. But if you are uninsured, have gaps in insurance, or have high-deductible health insurance, the price you’ll pay will be alarmingly clear.

There is debate as to why the cost has risen so sharply. Drug companies defend the pricing, stating there have been improvements over the years to the drugs; for example, newer versions of insulin are longer-lasting. However, some experts say the improvements don’t justify the higher pricing and are part of an overall strategy to keep prices high with new patent protections.

Not taking insulin or trying to save money by not taking a full dosage can be a decision with dire consequences for those with diabetes. It can lead to hospitalization and life-threatening situations such as a coma and kidney failure. Always check with your pharmacist about how to properly take your medication and carefully follow all instructions (visit the state Board of Pharmacy website at www.pharmacy.ca.gov to find a properly licensed pharmacist).

There is hope, however. According to The Washington Post. efforts are being made to create cheaper insulin options. For instance, Walmart sells an insulin version that is $25 per vial, and Eli Lilly is expected to release a less-expensive version by the end of this year.

In the meantime, patients facing high insulin prices should do all they can to properly manage their health, as well as talk to their doctors about the best options and do research on drug assistance programs. Visit the American Diabetes Association website for more information.

Male Contraception Study Cut Short

syringeA male contraception study, cosponsored by the United Nations and commissioned by the World Health Organization, was recently stopped after it was concluded that the drug caused too many side effects.

The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, tested the safety and effectiveness of a contraceptive shot that was administered every eight weeks to 320 healthy men in different countries around the world. The trial was initially considered successful after it significantly decreased sperm counts. However, after Stage II of the three-stage trial, a number of men dropped out of the study, citing side effects such as acne, mood swings, depression, muscle pain, and increased libido. Researchers decided to stop the trial early in the interest of patient safety. A survey of patients who didn’t drop out found that most would use the product if it were available.

The premature halt of the study has caused some experts to draw comparisons with the side effects experienced by those women who use female birth control. It has also caused some raised eyebrows from women, who have been dealing with the side effects of FDA-approved birth control methods for decades. To learn more about contraception options and their possible side effects, women should talk to a qualified health care professional. (You can check the license of a doctor at the Medical Board’s website at www.mbc.ca.gov or a pharmacist at the Board of Pharmacy’s website at www.pharmacy.ca.gov.)

Despite the sudden halt to the male contraception study, there are still plans to successfully bring a male contraceptive drug to the market. According to an NPR report, future trials with different, safer levels of hormones, as well as possibly alternative ways to administer the drug, such as via a gel or an implant, are in the works.

 

 

Dealing With the High Cost of Dying

103407746-gettyimages-471349769-1910x1000Let’s face it. No one enjoys discussing death or dying, much less planning a funeral for a loved one or even for themselves.

However uncomfortable the subject may be, if you don’t plan in advance, it could cost you both financially and emotionally.

Shopping around for the most suitable and affordable funeral goods and services is an important step in the right direction.  However, with so many funeral homes and services to choose from, it can be a daunting process.

The California Department of Consumer Affairs’ Cemetery and Funeral Bureau, which licenses, regulates, and investigates complaints against California funeral establishments and nearly 200 fraternal and private cemeteries in the State, offers a booklet titled, “Consumer Guide to Funeral and Cemetery Purchases,” which contains information that will help consumers make informed decisions throughout the process.  It provides extensive information on the legal requirements involving disposition arrangements such as home death care, retail casket sellers, embalming and cremation, as well as coroner fees and a host of other important and useful information.

consumer-guide-coverThe “Consumer Guide to Funeral and Cemetery Purchases” is available online in both English and Spanish at the Cemetery and Funeral Bureau’s Web site, www.cfb.ca.gov.

Additional help for consumers may also be on the way. Two groups, the Funeral Consumers Alliance and the Consumer Federation of America, recently filed a petition with the FTC seeking requirements for  funeral homes to fully disclose their prices for burial products and services online. Some establishments currently list pricing for services online; others do not.

If the requirements are approved, the change would update a 1984 FTC rule that currently requires price disclosure, but only in person or over the phone. Many consumer advocates maintain the new online guidelines—if implemented—would make planning for funerals much easier and convenient for consumers who could access funeral information with the click of a mouse and in the comfort of their homes.

Remember, once you’ve decided on a funeral home and arrangements have been made,  you’re entitled by law to get an itemized statement with the final cost so there are no surprises and you know exactly what you’re paying for.

Most importantly, the Cemetery and Funeral Bureau recommends consumers make sure that the funeral establishment, funeral director, crematory, crematory manager, or cemetery they choose are licensed by the State and in good standing.  You can verify the license online on the Bureau’s website at http://www.cfb.ca.gov/consumer/lookup.shtml

(NOTE: The State does not license cemeteries operated by religious organizations; cities, counties, or cemetery districts; the military; Native American tribal organizations; or other groups. If you don’t know who regulates the cemetery you’re interested in, ask the cemetery manager.)

If you need help with a cemetery or funeral issue, visit the Bureau’s Web site at www.cfb.ca.gov or call the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Consumer Information Center at (800) 952-5210 or the Bureau directly at (916) 574-7870.