Neti Pots: Tap Water is a No-No

Spring is almost over, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the end of allergies. Those
who suffer year-round look for relief in a number of ways—from daily doses of allergy medicine to regular sessions of acupuncture. Another popular—as well as drug-free and inexpensive—method is nasal rinsing.

A common nasal irrigation device is the neti pot—a small, teapot-like container that you fill with a saline solution to clear nasal passages. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the neti pot can flush out dust, pollen, and other debris, and also help to loosen thick mucus.

The FDA states that, when used properly, the neti pot is safe and effective in reducing allergy symptoms—as long as they are used correctly. Neti pots must only be filled with distilled, sterile, or previously boiled water. If you use tap water, you risk putting organisms in your nasal passages that can cause serious infections, or even result in death. You don’t get sick from drinking tap water because your stomach acid can kill low-level organisms.

According to the FDA, other tips for safe use of your neti pot include:

  • Making sure your hands are clean before use.
  • Checking that the device is clean and completely dry.
  • Carefully following the manufacturer’s directions for use.

Before using any nasal rinsing device, consult with your doctor to see if it’s the best solution for you. Be sure to check the license of your doctor by going to the Medical Board of California’s website, www.mbc.ca.gov.

 

 

A Clear Look at Contact Lenses

Contact lenses can be liberating. You don’t have to deal with the discomfort of eyeglasses resting on your face and ears, your peripheral view is generally better, and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), they can even improve the progression of nearsightedness in children and teenagers.

However, despite their benefits, if you don’t care for and wear them properly, they may cause eye infections that can lead to long-term damage, according to the CDC. The good news is, though, that with good habits, you can most likely avoid infections.

Here are some tips to ensure healthy use of your contact lenses:

  • Be sure to wash your hands with soap and water before handling.
  • Rub then rinse them with disinfecting contact lens solution.
  • Don’t “top off” old solution in your case or re-use solution.
  • Don’t sleep, shower, or swim with your lenses on.
  • Don’t wear your contact lenses longer than your eye doctor instructed.

If you’re interested in wearing cosmetic contacts, know that, similar to vision-correcting lenses, they must be prescribed by a licensed optometrist or ophthalmologist. Find out more about cosmetic contact sales in the Board of Optometry’s Cosmetic Contacts: Change the Look of Your Eyes Safely and Legally publication.

Regularly check the health of your eyes by visiting your eye doctor. To verify the license of your optometrist, visit the Board of Optometry’s website at www.optometry.ca.gov.

 

 

 

Having Dense Breasts: What Does It Mean?

When women get their mammogram results, they may be notified that they have “dense breast tissue.” Starting in April 2013, California law requires that patients be informed if they have dense breasts, and if they do, they may want to consult with their doctor about additional screening options.

Density is apparent only in mammograms and has nothing to do with firmness. Breasts appear dense if there is a great deal of fibrous or glandular tissue, and less fatty tissue. According to the American Cancer Society, about 40 percent of women in the U.S. over age 40 have dense breasts.

Having dense breasts increases your risk of getting breast cancer—the second-leading cause of cancer death in women, with lung cancer as the number one-leading cause. A February 2017 University of California, San Francisco, study showed that women with dense breast tissue are at a greater risk for breast cancer compared to women with a family history of the disease, their own history of benign lesions, or a first full-term pregnancy over age 30. However, it’s still not understood why there is a link. But what is clear is that dense breast tissue makes it more difficult to see tumors in mammograms.

If you do receive notice that you have dense breasts, be sure to discuss with your doctor about what follow-up tests (e.g., an MRI, ultrasound, or 3D mammography) may be necessary. To check the license of a doctor, visit the Medical Board of California website at www.mbc.ca.gov.

 

 

Safe Sandal Season Brings Awareness to Potential Dangers of Pedicures

Proper salon cleaning procedures are essential to avoid serious diseases

A pedicure can be a great way to pamper yourself, but did you ever think you could get a life-threatening infection from one? It’s possible if the salon isn’t using proper cleaning and disinfection techniques. Lurking in the depths of a foot spa basin may be bacteria, fungal strains, and other dangerous microorganisms that thrive in warm, moist environments. Any break in the skin—like insect bites, scratches, scabs or razor cuts—are gateways for those microorganisms to cause infections. Whirlpool foot spas must be cleaned and disinfected after each use, at the end of each day, and every week.

California’s Board of Barbering and Cosmetology licenses and regulates salons and the people in them that provide the services, and has established cleaning and sanitation procedures that are required by law for infection control.

Watch this quick video before your next salon visit—it shows what has to be done and why it’s critical (some graphic content):

The board also offers these pre-pedi safety tips:

  • Don’t shave or wax your legs 24 hours before a pedicure. If you have broken skin or lesions on your lower legs, don’t get a pedicure until they have healed.
  • Always verify the licenses of anyone working on you. Current licenses are required to be posted on the wall in plain sight. You can verify licenses through the board’s website and check to see if your salon or cosmetologist has been disciplined for rules violations.
  • Ask how the salon cleans and disinfects its pedicure equipment. You also have the right to see the pedicure cleaning and disinfection log. Wiping out the tub between clients isn’t enough. For example, in the case of whirlpool foot spas and air-jet basins, special disinfectant must circulate through the equipment for 10 minutes between patrons.

As for those “fish pedicures,” you won’t be finding Nemo in any California salons—the practice is illegal statewide. Among other reasons, fish can’t be properly disinfected between customers. Learn more here: www.barbercosmo.ca.gov/forms_pubs/publications/fish_peds.pdf.

To learn more about salon safety or to file a complaint, visit the Board of Barbering and Cosmetology’s website.

CELEBRATE EARTH DAY – APRIL 22, 2017

Earth Day 2017

April 22, 2017 will mark the 48th year of Earth Day.  The first Earth Day was observed on April 22, 1970, and what began as a grassroots effort has today blossomed into a global event celebrated every year on April 22 by millions of people worldwide.

To honor the planet and to raise public awareness about the environment, events are planned throughout the months of April and May in communities throughout the state. If you’re interested in participating and celebrating this great planet of ours, the California Department of Resources, Recycling and Recovery has compiled a list of planned statewide Earth Day festivities.  Events range from family-friendly activities to community service projects.  For more information on these events and to learn more about reducing our carbon footprint, visit their website at www.calrecycle.ca.gov.

To do our part, the California Department of Consumer Affairs will host its fourth annual Earth, Safety and Wellness Day event on May 11, 2017.  This year’s event will focus on how to protect and preserve the environment, the property re-use program, as well as provide information on safety and wellness.  Non-profit organizations and certified small business vendors will also be on site.  

This event is open to anyone who wishes to attend. Come join us in learning how to protect and preserve our environment for generations to come!

 

 

Taking Control of Pests This Month

Paying tribute to the pest control industry, the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) founded National Pest Management Month. The April event seeks to raise public awareness about pest control and the risks associated with household pests, and provide information to homeowners on avoiding infestations.

This month-long event comes on the heels of massive rainstorms—which translate into a heavy pest season. With all the rain we’ve had this year, pests such as fleas, termites, carpenter ants, and cockroaches will be out in full force. Assistance from a pest control professional will be key in helping protect yourself and your family against possible health and structural threats.

To find out more about National Pest Management Month and to get tips on protecting your home, visit the NPMA’s website at www.pestworld.org. To check the license of a pest control professional, visit the Structural Pest Control Board’s website at www.pestboard.ca.gov.

April is an Ideal Time to Focus on Health

The weather is warming up, making it an ideal time to get healthy by getting active outdoors and taking advantage of the in-season fruits and vegetables. As further inspiration, a slew of campaigns focusing on health management through exercise, diet, and regular health care are happening this month. Here are a few to get you started:

  • April is Defeat Diabetes Month, sponsored by the Defeat Diabetes Foundation. As part of the campaign, the Foundation is challenging participants to track how many activities and good habits they candevelop this month. The website www.defeatdiabetes.org has an activity calendar of daily suggestions to stay active and eat well; for example, plant your own garden, try papaya and asparagus, go hiking, visit your doctor for a check-up, and explore a wildlife refuge.
  • According to volunteer eye health and safety organization Prevent Blindness, more women than men have eye disease. In an effort to educate women about preserving their vision, Prevent Blindness has designated this month as Women’s Eye Health and Safety Awareness Month. From using cosmetics safely and wearing UV-blocking sunglasses to making regular optometry visits and learning about your family history of possible eye disease, there are many ways to take care of your vision. Find out more about the event and women’s eye care by visiting the Prevent Blindness website at www.preventblindness.org.
  • What is occupational therapy? Find out during National Occupational Therapy Month, founded by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). The event recognizes the important role occupational therapists play in helping people return to everyday activities after injuries, assisting children with disabilities participate in school and social situations, and enabling the elderly to stay as independent as possible. Learn more about occupational therapy and the month long celebration at the AOTA website, www.aota.org.

To verify the license of your healthcare providers, visit the appropriate board’s website: Medical Board of California at www.mbc.ca.gov, Board of Optometry at www.optometry.ca.gov, and the Board of Occupational Therapy at www.bot.ca.gov.

Was Your Car Repaired After An Accident? Was it Done Right?

For safety’s sake, DCA’s Auto Body Inspection Program will find out

After you’ve had some types of repair work done on your car, it’s pretty hard for the untrained eye to see if it was all done right, isn’t it? Well, if you’re a California consumer, you can get some assistance by getting a free auto body inspection from experts at the DCA’s Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR).

Why have an inspection?

This sport utility vehicle had its door repaired by a California auto body repair shop. Afterward, the owners took it through a car wash and it leaked profusely. BAR inspectors discovered that the seam next to the Post-it note should have been welded together. It leaked where the work had been done and had no structural integrity. The proper weld would have created rigidity necessary to prevent crumpling of the passenger compartment. Another collision could have led to serious injury – or worse – for the occupants.

Because most collision repairs are hidden by the vehicle’s panels, it can be hard to tell if the repairs were performed correctly, or done at all. Undetected deficiencies could reduce the structural integrity of the vehicle and could put the driver and passengers at risk. BAR officials have seen cases where consumers who have had collision repairs done paid for parts they didn’t receive or labor that wasn’t performed. In some cases, the vehicle may be left unsafe. Or, consumers may be set up for further mechanical problems down the road. This quick video shows how one consumer was helped: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LCxs4OdA13U

How does the inspection program work?

Call BAR’s toll-free number at (866) 799-3811 to schedule an appointment, and have ready a copy of the auto body repair invoice listing the repairs performed. On the scheduled date, a BAR inspector will come to meet you to inspect your vehicle. The Bureau’s inspectors check your vehicle to determine whether the auto body repairs were performed properly and match the work listed on the invoice. That’s how easy it is, at no cost to you!

If BAR inspectors find no discrepancies, they’ll just document the result. When BAR officials do find problems, they will help get the shop to make corrections. You can also:

  • Have the inspector open a complaint that will be investigated by a BAR field representative.
  • Contact your insurance company for a follow up with BAR.
  • Choose not to pursue the issue.

BAR experts say that most of the time when a problem is found, it’s simply the result of an oversight on the body shop’s part, but the State will take action if it’s believed fraud is involved.


This vehicle is missing a shield in the bumper cover that protects the components behind it—in this case the windshield washer fluid container—from road damage. The shield also directs air back into the engine to assist with cooling. It’s minor, and likely an oversight by the body shop, and the consumer can choose to seek remedy or not.

Although BAR will not inspect mechanical work, the Bureau will still take a complaint about it. Visit www.bar.ca.gov and click on the “Consumer” tab for information on how to file a complaint as well as more details about the Auto Body Inspection Program.

DCA’s Umbrella Has You Covered

National Consumer Protection Week spotlights free resources, programs to help consumers

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Consumers: Do you feel empowered? You will after this week!

The California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) is proud to be a partner during the 19th annual National Consumer Protection Week (#NCPW2017), a coordinated campaign that encourages consumers nationwide to take full advantage of their consumer rights and make better-informed decisions. This year, it runs from March 5 through 11, so stay tuned to this blog and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for great tips all week!

Here are some of the ways DCA helps:

Licensing for protection

We all know someone who’s had a bad experience with an unlicensed or unscrupulous contractor who does sloppy work, lacks proper insurance or takes money upfront and disappears or leaves the job incomplete. That’s why you’ve heard our mantra “check the license” repeatedly, because this is one way consumers can help protect themselves from frauds, scams and financial harm. Licensing tells you that the person you are dealing with has met certain qualifications and levels of competency and offers a remedy if a service is not delivered or work is not acceptable. Through its boards, bureaus, committees and other entities, DCA regulates many industries and the people licensed to work in them.

Check a license or file a complaint against a licensee by calling our Consumer Information Center at (800) 952-5210, or visit www.dca.ca.gov.

Consumer education, enforcement and special programs

Through award-winning consumer publications, social media, blogs, Senior Scam StopperSM events from the Contractors State License Board and other special programs like the Auto Body Inspection Program from the Bureau of Automotive Repair and the Veterans Come First Program from the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services, DCA staff educates consumers by giving them the information they need to avoid unscrupulous or unqualified people who promote deceptive or unsafe services.

DCA also advocates consumer interests before lawmakers and enforces consumer laws. Our enforcement staff works with the California Attorney General’s Office and local district attorneys to fight fraud in the marketplace. In fact, many investigations are initiated by consumer complaints. If DCA determines wrongdoing, it can place licensees on probation, or suspend or revoke licenses.

Dispute resolution

When a dispute arises between a customer and a business in certain industries under DCA’s jurisdiction, alternative methods are available for resolving complaints without going to court in which the involved parties can work out a solution with the help of a mediator.

Who we are what we do

Learn more on our website at www.dca.ca.gov or get our publication titled, Who We Are & What We Do. For a free printed copy, call the DCA Publications Hotline at (866) 320-8652. Find more consumer resources at https://oag.ca.gov/, https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/, www.ncpw.gov and #NCPW2017.

Don’t Miss the Latest Issue of Consumer Connection!

In 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recalled 51.3 million autos in the United States. The recalls included everything from defective ignition switches and consumer-connection-winter-2016steering wheels to acceleration issues and airbag and seatbelt defects. If you receive a recall notice, don’t ignore it. The winter 2016 issue of Consumer Connection walks you through what to do if you receive one.

This edition of DCA’s magazine continues its regular feature highlighting Department leadership. This issue includes an interview with the Executive Officer of the Board of Registered Nursing (Board), Joseph Morris. Mr. Morris discusses his background, long-term goals for the Board, and the Board’s challenges ahead.

The issue also explores a variety of other interesting topics, including recognizing a flood-damaged car when shopping for a used vehicle, fighting antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and the recently launched California State Athletic Commission’s campaign to prevent and treat concussions.

Visit the DCA website to download or read the magazine. You can also pick up a printed copy in the DCA Headquarters lobby at 1625 North Market Boulevard in Sacramento. Or, to have it mailed to you at no charge, call (866) 320-8652 or send an e-mail request to consumerconnection@dca.ca.gov. Get connected!