Contact a professional with any concerns
Paint adds color to our lives, but sometimes it can add concerns to our homes. Although lead house paint was banned from U.S. use in 1978, it still lives on in many older residences, and tenants, landlords, and homeowners need to remain vigilant regarding this ongoing household health issue.
Here’s a little bit about lead and its close-to-home paint hazards:
- Lead exposure killed more than 1 million people worldwide in 2017 alone.
- Approximately 24 million U.S. housing units have significant lead-based paint hazards like deterioration and related dust.
- Four million of these U.S. housing units are home to young children.
- As many as 500,000 U.S. children have blood-lead levels higher than 5 micrograms per deciliter, but there is no safe level of lead exposure: Even small amounts of lead can cause an array of serious health problems in all ages, but especially in children, whose bodies absorb the toxin more quickly.
If lead is so dangerous, why was it ever used in household paint? This heavy metal had been added to paint for centuries to make it more dense and opaque, allowing small amounts of paint to cover large surfaces and making paint more cost-effective. But what also surfaced throughout the centuries were references to lead’s high toxicity: As far back as 1786, U.S. statesman Benjamin Franklin warned a friend about his grave lead-paint-poisoning concerns, and the League of Nations—the United Nations’ predecessor—called for an end to lead in paint in 1922. Nevertheless, it wasn’t until 1971 that U.S. legislation was passed recognizing and eventually ending the use of lead in new paint.
But the old paint remained—and often still remains—in our homes. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency:
- If your house was built between 1960 and 1977, it has a 24% chance of containing lead paint.
- If your house was built between 1940 and 1959, it has a 69% chance of containing lead paint.
- If your house was built before 1940, it has an 87% chance of containing lead paint.
Chances are that, regardless of the age of your home, old leaded paint has been covered by a fresh lead-free coat by now; however, it can still be there under the surface, with toxic elements ready to be released by renovation, repair, and related construction activities.
If you have concerns about lead paint in your home, or if you have plans for renovation or construction and are worried
about potential lead-paint problems, contact a professional for assistance. Licensees of Department of Consumer Affairs’ Contractors State License Board (CSLB)—including those with specialized painting licenses—are helpful resources, and licensed contractors also can have additional training and certification in safe lead testing, abatement, and construction practices under the California Department of Public Health’s (CDPH) Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program. To check a contractor’s license, visit search.dca.ca.gov, and see a list of CDPH-certified lead-abatement professionals.
For additional free materials and information on household lead paint (available in English, Spanish, Russian, Vietnamese, Somali, and Arabic), visit the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
#AskDCA: ‘My elderly neighbor doesn’t have family nearby and I’m concerned for his well-being. How can I make sure he is looked after?’
Question: ‘My elderly neighbor doesn’t have family nearby and I’m concerned for his well-being. How can I make sure he is looked after?’
Answer: A professional fiduciary, licensed by the Professional Fiduciaries Bureau (PFB), can be hired by independent, productive people who anticipate a future need in making sound financial, health care, and day-to-day decisions. If a person becomes incapacitated or dies, the professional fiduciary can manage their estate.
Contact a licensed pest-control professional for help with harmful insects around your home
People from all over the world are drawn to the beauty, climate, and star-studded glamour of Southern California. Sometimes, other species are attracted to SoCal, too: A new pest has arrived on the SoCal scene—the Aedes mosquito—and local-government agencies are working to get the word out about this aggressive and invasive insect.
The common California Culex mosquito is annoying at best and harmful at worst, being a carrier of the West Nile virus. However, Aedes mosquitoes—the Asian tiger mosquito, the yellow-fever mosquito, and the Australian backyard mosquito—not only are more aggressive biters, but also are carriers of many more deadly diseases including malaria, yellow fever, dengue, and Zika, making them the cause of more than 1 million deaths worldwide each year.
First found in Southern California some years ago, the non-native Aedes mosquitoes have not yet been tied to an uptick in these deadly diseases. But local agencies like the San Gabriel Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District aren’t waiting for people to get sick: They’re working hard to prevent mosquito-borne disease transmission, to stop the spread of these dangerous mosquitoes throughout the state, and to educate Californians about these invasive pests. Here’s what you can do:
- Regularly look for—and drain—even the smallest standing-water sources. While Culex mosquitoes love large standing-water bodies like ponds and dirty swimming pools, Aedes mosquitoes prefer tiny standing-water sources like bottle caps, old tires, and planter saucers.
- Contact a licensed pest professional. If you have concerns about pests of any kind in and around your home, reach out to a pest professional licensed by the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Structural Pest Control Board for assistance. Find out more about their services at www.pestboard.ca.gov and check a professional’s license at search.dca.ca.gov.
For many K-12 students in California and across the nation, the start of a new school year looks very different–yet very familiar. This school year, classes are being conducted primarily online from home to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The shift from in-person to online learning requires students to spend more time looking at electronic devices such as tablets and computers, chucking any preexisting household screen-time limits imposed by their parents and guardians.
Before schools moved to distance learning, eye care professionals guided consumers about how best to ward the harmful effect too much screen time can have on children’s eyes.
Although the playing field has changed, the tactics remain the same. Licensed California optometrist and Associate Clinical Professor Lillian Wang of the University of California, Berkeley, School of Optometry, suggests computer vision syndrome, or digital eye strain, is one of the most significant potential hazards of increased screen time on a child’s eyes.
“When you’re looking at something up close in an extended period of time like kids now have to do with virtual school, their eye muscles are contracted for hours if they don’t take a break. That causes a lot of eye strain, discomfort, and eye fatigue,” said Wang.
She gave an analogy of holding a two-pound weight at your waist, which does not seem heavy at first. However, if you kept that two-pound weight in the same position for a long time, your arms would begin to get tired. The same thing occurs with eye muscles: When eyes focus on a computer screen for an extended period of time, the eyes will experience fatigue, and symptoms like an inability to focus and headaches can occur.
How do you combat this eye strain? Eye care professionals suggest implementing the 20/20/20 Rule.
“So, every 20 minutes, you want to look at something that’s at least 20 feet away,” said Wang. “And what that does is it relaxes your eye muscles, so they don’t have to contract, and you want to do it for 20 seconds. It can be as simple as looking out of a window and focus on something outside of the window, like a tree or a building.”
She noted this small act helps the eyes to relax, and it works for children and adults.
Also, when students are focused and paying attention to their teacher or concentrating while completing a lesson, they blink less. Reduced blinking can lead to computer dry-eye, another hazard of increased screen time.
“Every time you blink, your eyelids actually refresh the layer of tears that covers the cornea, the front surface of your eye,” said Wang. “When we don’t blink enough, the cornea has a tendency to dry out, and then you get irritated eyes or exhibit a burning sensation, they might turn red because your eyes are feeling uncomfortable.”
It may not seem like a big deal, but blinking is essential. Relief from computer dry-eye can be relieved by blinking more or using artificial tears, which are available for purchase over-the-counter.
The distance of the screen is another concern. Making sure your child’s device is not too close is another useful tactic to give their eyes a break to lessen the screen’s negative impact. According to Wang, a minimum of sixteen inches from their head would be an ideal distance for kids to view their tablets or laptops.
Also, staring into a digital screen for longer than usual, you may wonder if you should be concerned about the blue light emitting from the electronic devices into your child’s eyes.
According to Wang, “Blue light glasses or filters may work for some and not for others. All electronic devices, anything with a screen emits blue light, even your phone.”
Researchers assert that blue light can cause sleep issues and eye strain. But should your child wear blue light glasses? The answer is a matter of preference. There is a lot of literature out there that supports the benefits of blue light blocking accessories. However, there is not enough research data to support the purported benefits, and the eye health industry has not entirely gotten behind blue light blocking devices. The best course of action is to read about the pros and cons and make the best choice for the individual in consultation with an eye care professional licensed through the California Department of Consumer Affairs’ (DCA), California State Board of Optometry, Medical Board of California, or the Osteopathic Medical Board of California.
As a final point, it is important to note that children’s eyes differ from adults. Their eyes are susceptible to many vision and eye problems that are not detectable from a routine eye exam. Wang suggests if a child exhibits symptoms of eye strain, headaches, tired eyes, and they have tried the 20/20/20 Rule, but their symptoms persist, then they should get a comprehensive eye exam.
Checking the licensure status of your child’s eye care professional is simple. Their license can be verified through DCA’s license search tool at https://search.dca.ca.gov.
Get to know this growing profession
Landscape architecture is all around us. And the visionary work of these licensed professionals results in usable, beautiful, ecologically responsible, natural areas that enhance our communities and, ultimately, our own quality of life.
A COMMUNITY-DEFINING CAREER
As described by the American Society of Landscape Architects, landscape architects “analyze, plan, design, manage, and nurture the built and natural environments. They design parks, campuses, streetscapes, trails, plazas, and other projects that help define a community.”
While every day is a bit different for a landscape architect, typical duties include:
- Meeting with clients, engineers, contractors, and building architects to understand the requirements of a project.
- Preparing site plans, specifications, and cost estimates.
- Coordinating the arrangement of existing and proposed land features and structures.
- Preparing graphic representations of plans using computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) software.
- Selecting appropriate materials.
- Analyzing environmental reports on land conditions, such as drainage and energy usage.
- Inspecting project progress to ensure that it adheres to plans.
All of these day-to-day duties add up to a finished product that seamlessly and harmoniously connects people with a nature-based, human-built environment.
While each different state sets its own requirements for licensure, each requires candidates to pass the national Landscape Architect Registration Examination (LARE), which is administered by the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards.
California regulation and licensure are overseen by the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Landscape Architects Technical Committee (LATC). Prior to registering for the LARE in California, those wishing to become licensed landscape architects in California must:
- Be at least 18 years of age (or have graduated from high school to receive training/experience credit).
- Have a bachelor’s, master’s, or associate degree, or an extension certificate in landscape architecture or an architecture degree from a program accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board.
- Have six years of qualifying education and training experience in actual practice of landscape architecture (an approved degree or extension certificate in landscape architecture will allow applicants to take LARE sections 1 and 2 prior to earning training experience).
Upon meeting education and training experience requirements, the licensure candidate must apply for eligibility. The application and all required documents must be received by LATC no later than 45 days before the first date of any LARE section the candidate wants to take.
For those wishing to move and practice from out of state, California has a licensure reciprocity program.
And this licensed profession is in demand. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts steady growth for landscape architect careers, citing:
- Ongoing commercial, industrial, and residential construction needs.
- Increasing demands for sustainably designed outdoor spaces.
- Conservation of water and other natural resources.
FIND OUT MORE
To become one of the more than 3,500 licensed California landscape architects, or to find out more about the profession and its services, visit www.latc.ca.gov. If you are interested in hiring a landscape architect, check out LATC’s “Consumer’s Guide to Hiring a Landscape Architect” and check the professional’s license at search.dca.ca.gov.
‘Guardians of the record’ uphold unbiased accuracy
For kings and serfs, for traders and taxpayers, for judges and witnesses, court reporters have been there through the ages to make sure people’s voices lived on in the written record. Find out more about these professionals, how you can become one, and why their work matters.
AN IMPORTANT ROLE
Court reporters preserve words for posterity, although the way they do it has changed somewhat over time.
According to the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA), the profession goes back to the 4th century B.C., when Marcus Tullius Tiro used a system of shorthand—including his still-popular “&”—to record the speeches of Roman speakers and leaders. English physician and clergyman Timothie Bright is credited with the first formal phonetic writing system (recording words’ spoken sounds with special symbols rather than writing their commonly accepted spellings), which he published in 1588. Other popular phonetic shorthand systems followed, including Thomas Gurney’s in 1750, Isaac Pitman’s in 1837, and John Robert Gregg’s in 1888.
Modern shorthand took a technological turn in 1913 with Ward Stone Ireland’s reliable and portable “stenotype machine” which, by pressing one or more keys at a time, court reporters could capture word sounds in phonetic code, with the code typed and printed on paper for recordkeeping. Today’s machines hearken back to Ireland’s invention, with the addition of computerization.
TODAY’S COURT REPORTERS
Today, about a dozen states have their own formal education, testing, and certification requirements for court reporters (also sometimes called certified shorthand reporters or CSRs), with other states offering acceptance of a national certification offered by NCRA or having no regulatory requirements at all.
Since 1951, California has been one of the states with its own high-level licensure and requirements for these professionals. Current licensure requirements overseen by the Court Reporters Board of California (CRB) include passing a three-part exam, usually after attending a CRB-approved court reporting school. Having an out-of-state license or appropriate work experience can also qualify you for the exam.
While many licensed court reporters do work in courts, others are employed in a range of settings:
- Freelance reporters are hired by attorneys, corporations, unions, associations, and other individuals and groups who need accurate, complete, and secure records of pretrial depositions, arbitrations, board of directors meetings, stockholder meetings, and convention business sessions.
- Hearing court reporters use verbatim methods and equipment to capture, store, retrieve, and transcribe pretrial and trial proceedings or other information.
- Stenocaptioners operate computerized stenographic captioning equipment to provide captions of live or prerecorded broadcasts for viewers who are hard of hearing.
- Legislative court reporters transcribe proceedings in the United States Congress and in state legislatures around the country.
- Official court reporters work for the judicial system to convert the spoken word into text during courtroom proceedings. The reporter also prepares official verbatim transcripts to be used by attorneys, judges, and litigants.
- Scopists are professional transcript editors for court reporters. However, unlike an editor or a proofreader, a scopist has the ability to compare a court reporter’s shorthand to the finished transcript. By “scoping” the transcript, mistranslate errors can be identified, thereby helping the court reporter preserve an accurate record.
THE VALUE OF COURT REPORTING
Now, with technology all around us—including the ability to record right on the phones we carry everywhere—some may wonder why professional court reporters are still needed. According to CRB, there are five major reasons why you should rely on their highly trained licensees for your official recording needs:
- Accuracy—You’ve only got one chance to accurately capture the legal record. A licensed court reporter provides a word-for-word record and is trained and empowered to ask participants to repeat words, to speak up when necessary, and to clarify technical terms.
- Qualification—Licensed court reporters must pass a three-part licensing exam and must complete hundreds of hours of training in English, legal and medical terminology, and transcription preparation, plus a minimum of 60 internship hours.
- Certification—Not all transcripts are created equal: Only certified transcripts created by a licensed court reporter are guaranteed to be accepted in court.
- Documentation—For appeals, the accuracy of transcripts taken during the original proceedings is critical and may impact the ability of your appeal to move forward.
- Regulation—If a problem or disagreement arises with a licensed court reporter, you can file a complaint with CRB to investigate on your behalf and to ensure the law is followed.
And what court reporter W.C. (Casey) Jones said in his poem “I Am The Reporter” shared at the 1964 Kansas Shorthand Reporters Association still holds true today:
I have kept confidence reposed with me by those in high places as well as those in lowly positions.
I protect the truthful witness, and I am a Nemesis of the perjurer.
I am a party to the administration of Justice under the law and the Court I serve.
I discharge my duties with devotion and honor.
Perhaps I haven’t made history, but I have preserved it through the ages for all mankind.
Related Reading: Coming Soon to California Courts: Voice-Written Transcripts
Bureau Of Automotive Repair Adopts Regulations To Increase Assistance To Consumers Impacted By Covid-19
Eligible consumers may receive up to $1,200 in emissions-related repairs
SACRAMENTO – The Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) has adopted emergency regulations updating the Consumer Assistance Program (CAP) to increase assistance contributions available to consumers during the ongoing state of emergency in California. The regulations increase the state’s contribution toward emissions-related repairs from a maximum of $500 to $1,200 for eligible consumers.
“The effects of COVID-19 have created many challenges for consumers that may negatively impact their ability to pay for emissions-related repairs required to pass Smog Check and complete the Department of Motor Vehicles’ registration renewal process,” said BAR Chief Patrick Dorais. “BAR sought the emergency regulatory action to improve access to required repairs and ensure critical workers and individuals reentering the workforce have reliable and safe transportation.”
CAP offers eligible consumers repair assistance and vehicle retirement options to help improve California’s air quality. The repair assistance option offers income-eligible consumers assistance towards emissions-related repairs at a STAR test-and-repair station if their vehicle fails its Smog Check inspection.
In addition to the increased state contribution, the regulations modify the consumer copay structure and relax some vehicle registration related eligibility requirements.
The world can be a very scary, unkind place. If you were gone, would anyone notice? Would anyone miss you?
You bet they would.
And there are people who have been to that dark place and have come back and who fight to stay out of it. Every day. And there are people who have not been to that dark place but they understand and want to listen. And there are those you love you no matter what—even if you don’t love yourself right now.
So please stay.
Today is National Suicide Prevention Day.
According to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, suicide is the second leading cause of death in kids age 10 to 24. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists suicide among the top 10 causes of death in the United States. And last year, the World Health Organization (WHO) predicted that in 2020, someone would take their life every 20 seconds.
Every. 20. Seconds.
Firearms. Hanging. Suffocation. Poisoning. Overdose. Those are the top ways people choose to end their lives. Whether the depression is clinical, or it comes as a result of bullying, abuse, or other outside factors, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline says there are common signs to watch for, including:
- Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves
- Looking for a way to kill themselves, like searching online or buying a gun
- Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
- Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
- Talking about being a burden to others
- Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
- Acting agitated; behaving recklessly
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Withdrawing or isolating themselves
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
- Extreme mood swings
#BeThe1To Save a Life
If you know someone who is struggling right now, you can be the difference. The #BeThe1To website offers a five-step action plan:
Ask. Listen. Be direct; asking the question “Are you thinking about suicide?” communicates that you’re open to speaking about suicide in a non-judgmental and supportive way. Listen; make sure you take their answers seriously, especially if they indicate they are experiencing thoughts of suicide.
Be there. Being there for someone physically or over the phone give them a connectedness and can help break their isolation. Make sure you’re going to be there for them. And follow through; they are depending on you, even though they may not realize it.
Keep them safe. If they mentioned in step 1 that they are thinking of suicide, it’s important to find out a few things to establish immediate safety. Have they already done anything to try to kill themselves? Do they have a specific, detailed plan? What’s the timing for their plan? What sort of access to do they have to their planned method?
Help them connect. Provide them with a way to reach out if they are in crisis and you cannot be there, such as a national hotline, or a mental health professional. Develop a safety plan to ensure they can reach someone immediately if they need to.
Follow up. After your initial conversation, keep in touch: Leave a voicemail. Send a text. Stay connected. Find out if there is anything else you can do to help.
One more thing: Take care of yourself if you decide to support someone through this process; it can awaken some emotions within you as well. If it does, remember—help is there for you, too.
Because you are not alone.
Because you matter.
Get help: Resources
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7/365 assistance: (800) 273-8255
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline one-on-one confidential online chat
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Spanish (888) 628-9454
Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741 to have a confidential text conversation with a trained crisis counselor 24/7
LGBTQ Assistance: The Trevor Project
TrevorLifeline: (866) 488-7386—Crisis intervention and suicide assistance hotline, 24/7/365
TrevorChat: Confidential online instant messaging with counselors 24/7
TrevorText: Text START to 678-678 Confidential text messaging with a counselor available 24/7/365
Find a licensed professional:
California Board of Psychology
Board of Behavioral Sciences
Licensed professionals stand ready to help make your home safer
You can’t see it, hear it, or smell it, but it causes more than 400 U.S. deaths and 50,000 emergency-room visits each year. But you can stop carbon monoxide (CO) from harming you and your family.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, deadly gas that, when breathed, stops your blood cells from carrying enough oxygen. Your brain and heart suffer most quickly, but all organs are harmed. High levels of carbon monoxide can kill, but even low levels can have long-lasting effects like permanent brain or heart damage.
This gas can come from a variety of innocent-looking everyday items in your home and garage, including:
- Space heaters
- Clothes dryers
- Charcoal grills
- Cooking ranges
- Water heaters
- Portable generators
- Wood-burning stoves
- Car and truck engines.
Although CO gas is invisible, its effects on you can be noticeable: Be on the lookout for symptoms like a dull headache, shortness of breath during mild exertion, weakness or fatigue, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, visual disturbances and blurred vision, difficulty concentrating, and loss of consciousness. If you and your family members start experiencing these symptoms, turn off any appliances and open windows if safe to do so, go outside, and call 911 for immediate medical assistance.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers simple do’s and don’ts that can make a big difference in preventing CO poisoning:
- Do have your heating system, water heater, and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified professional every year.
- Do install a battery-operated or battery back-up CO detector in your home. Check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall. If the detector sounds leave your home immediately and call 911.
- Do seek prompt medical help if you suspect CO poisoning and are feeling dizzy, light-headed, or nauseated.
- Don’t use a generator, charcoal grill, camp stove, or other gasoline or charcoal-burning device inside your home, basement, or garage or near a window.
- Don’t run a car or truck inside a garage attached to your house, even if you leave the door open.
- Don’t burn anything in a stove or fireplace that isn’t vented.
- Don’t heat your house with a gas oven.
- Don’t use a generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine less than 20 feet from any window, door, or vent. Use an extension cord that is more than 20 feet long to keep the generator at a safe distance.
Licensees of Department of Consumer Affairs’ Bureau of Household Goods and Services and Contractors State License Board are trained, regulated, and dedicated to making your home and appliances safe. Find out more about these professionals’ services at https://bhgs.dca.ca.gov and www.cslb.ca.gov, and check professionals’ licenses at search.dca.ca.gov.
The California State Board of Optometry warns consumers to only buy cosplay contact lenses with a prescription and from a licensed dealer
SACRAMENTO – Costume contact lenses are a fun way to temporarily change your eye color, change your mood for the day, or add that final touch to make your Halloween costume more frightening.
If not fitted correctly, costume contacts can be far from a “treat.” They can damage eyes, potentially causing you to end up with an unexpected “trick,” such as an eye infection, scratched cornea, impaired vision, or–even worse–loss of eyesight.
Cosmetic contact lenses are easy to find and are often sold illegally without a prescription online or at flea markets, novelty shops, barbershops, beauty salons, Halloween costume stores, mall kiosks, and even gas stations. Online retailers that sell contacts to California residents must also be licensed and verify the prescription with your eye doctor.
In California, you can only obtain cosplay and corrective contact lenses through a prescription from a licensed optometrist or ophthalmologist. In addition, to ensure the integrity of the lenses, they should only be purchased from a licensed optometrist, ophthalmologist, or contact lens dispenser, licensed with the California Department of Consumer Affairs’ California State Board of Optometry, Medical Board of California, or the Osteopathic Medical Board of California.
If you have purchased costume contact lenses without a prescription, the California State Board of Optometry wants to hear from you: Email the board to report illegal cosmetic contact lenses at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To verify the license of an optometrist, ophthalmologist, or contact lens dispenser, use the license search tool available through the California Department of Consumer Affairs: https://search.dca.ca.gov.
ABOUT THE CALIFORNIA STATE BOARD OF OPTOMETRY: The California State Board of Optometry licenses and regulates more than 12,000 optometrists and dispensing opticians and retail optical sellers. The board’s mission is to protect the health and safety of California consumers through licensing, registration, education, and regulation of the practice of optometry and opticianry. For more information visit optometry.ca.gov.
ABOUT THE DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS: The Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) promotes and protects the interests of California consumers while ensuring a competent and fair marketplace. DCA helps consumers learn how to protect themselves from unscrupulous and unqualified individuals. The department also protects professionals (licensees) from unfair competition by unlicensed practitioners. Consumers can file complaints against licensees by contacting DCA at (800) 952-5210. Consumers can also file a complaint online at dca.ca.gov.
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