Entries in Los Angeles (8)


LA Tops ‘Dirty Air’ List for 13th Time in 14 Years

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- Thanks to the Clean Air Act, a lot of people in the United States are breathing a little easier. The American Lung Association’s “State of the Air 2013″ report, which analyzed ozone and particle levels in the air from 2009 to 2011, showed that the nation’s air quality is overall much cleaner, especially compared to a decade ago.

Still, the report found that more than 131.8 million people – 42 percent of the nation – live where pollution levels often make breathing a hazardous activity.

Nearly 120 million people live in areas with unhealthful levels of ozone, putting them at risk for premature death, aggravated asthma, difficulty breathing, cardiovascular harm and lower birth weight, the report revealed. The actual number who breathe unhealthy levels of ozone is likely much larger, since this number doesn’t factor people who live in adjacent counties in metropolitan areas where no monitors exist.

Car-obsessed Los Angeles once again tops the list for the worst ozone pollution in the country for the 13th time in the 14 years the report has been issued. Californians, in general, tend to inhale the dirtiest air: seven of the top-10 most air polluted cities on the list are in that state.

Houston, Dallas and Washington, D.C., round out the top 10 for dirtiest air.

Although the worst offenders tended to be repeats from the 14 previous reports, there were a few surprises.

“One of the concerns we saw in this year’s report was the increase in unhealthy ozone days in the middle part of the county,” noted Janice Nolen, assistant vice president of national policy for the American Lung Association. “This smog spike in smaller cities in particular may be related to increased heat in the summer and to the growth in oil extraction.”

Four cities – Bismarck, N.D., Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla., Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, Fla., and Rapid City, S.D. – were noted for having the cleanest air overall, meaning they reported no days at the unhealthy level for ozone, short-term particle pollution or year-round particle pollution.

The majority of cities that topped the list for lower ozone pollution, lower particle pollution or both, tended to be in the western part of the country in states like Colorado, Arizona and Utah. But Bangor, Maine, enjoyed low levels for both year-round and short-term particle pollution, and Burlington, Vt., topped the list for lightest ozone levels and year-round particle pollution.

One lone city from the Deep South, Muscle Shoals, Ala., was singled out for low levels of ozone and short-term particles.

Even in the cities with the filthiest of air, there are some glimmers of fresh oxygen through the smog. Fifteen of the 27 cities with the most ozone pollution improved their air quality in the previous year. And 13 of the country’s most smog-polluted cities experienced their best year yet.

Unfortunately, even with the improvements, people living in the most pollution-choked areas are still breathing air that reaches dangerously unhealthy levels.

The full report can be found here.

Copyright 2013 ABC New Radio


Porn Industry Against Mandatory Condom Measure

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- A ballot measure mandating that porn stars wear condoms in adult films passed with 56 percent of the vote in Los Angeles County this week, but the adult film industry in California says it already has a system to curb the spread of sexually transmitted diseases -- and it's better than latex.

The Safer Sex in the Adult Film Industry Act, or Measure B, will require performers to wear condoms during vaginal and anal intercourse, something industry leaders and their employees think is unnecessary because studios require performers to submit to mandatory STD testing every 14 or 28 days.  If they aren't STD-free, they can't be entered into the industry-wide sexual health database, and they're banned from performing.

"The adult industry takes this very seriously.  This is how we survive as an industry," said Steve Hirsch, who founded porn production company Vivid Entertainment in 1984 and argues that Measure B is unnecessary.  "This is how these performers make a living.  We're talking about their lives."

He said Measure B is a "solution looking for a problem."

Spearheaded by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Measure B also requires adult film producers to complete a blood-borne pathogen training course, post compliance signs on set, and cover fees for periodic inspections.

The Free Speech Coalition, the adult film industry trade group, has already written a letter to Los Angeles County to say compliance with measure B has "excessive costs," is unconstitutional and should not fall to local government to decide.  The letter said FSC will "challenge this intolerable law in court," and may move its billion dollar industry elsewhere.

Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, a professor of infectious diseases at the University of California Los Angeles, spoke at an AHF press conference following Measure B's passage.  He said recent surveys and studies proved that adult performers are 8 to 15 times more likely to contract an STD than anyone else.  He also said current industry testing practices are insufficient because they miss herpes simplex, as well as Chlamydia and gonorrhea in the throat or anus.

"This is really a victory for common sense," said Whitney Engeran-Cordova, a senior director at AHF, during the conference.  "I hope that the production directors and performers and all of the industry realize it was not only the voters who passed this.  It was also customers."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Mandatory Condom Use for Porn Stars?

Hemera/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- Los Angeles residents may soon vote on whether condom use should be mandatory in the City of Angels’ prolific porn industry.

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation, an organization that spearheaded the proposal, collected more than 70,000 signatures which were certified by the city clerk on Tuesday. The number of signatures is far more than the 41,000 needed to have the issue considered for city voting.

Under current law, porn stars must test negative for HIV and other STDs within 30 days of filming. Many argue that even the current law should be modified because HIV often does not show up in tests until months after a person contracts the virus.

Many in the adult entertainment industry argue that mandatory condom use would destroy the fantasy associated with pornography.

While LA residents would vote on the issue during the presidential primary in June, the Los Angeles Times reported that the proposal still faces legal challenges. City Attorney Carmen Trutanich filed court documents earlier this month that said the state, not the city, has the only legal authority to impose condom use on porn sets.

But Ellen Widess, head of the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, said the proposal is a legal possibility.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Egyptian Baby with Two Mouths Receives Lifesaving Surgery in US

Keith Brofsky/Photodisc/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- Fifteen-month-old Rokaya Mohamed traveled from her home in Egypt to Los Angeles to receive a surgery that doctors had never performed until last Wednesday.

Rokaya was born with two full mouths -- both included an upper and lower jaw.  At birth, doctors told Rokaya's parents that their baby wouldn't survive.  But she proved them wrong when she continued to grow and get healthier on the liquid diet her parents fed her.

"The X-rays, the ultrasound didn't show us how her face is going to be," Rokaya's father, Tamer Mohamed, told ABC News affiliate KABC-TV through an interpreter.  "We are going to fight to change her life."

Dr. William Magee III, medical director of international programs in the department of plastic and reconstructive surgery at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, heard of Rokaya's condition.  While he and his team have performed facial cleft surgeries on more than 100 children from more than 50 countries, he had never seen a child born with two full formed mouths.  It is perhaps the only known case of its kind.  Nevertheless, Magee III believed he could transform Rokaya's face and, in turn, save her life.

"We spent a lot of time planning the surgery, but we made some final decisions on how to go about it while in the operating room," said Magee III.  "The face is made of multiple pieces, so it's like pieces of a puzzle.  The cool thing is that we were able to use all those extra pieces in Rokaya's face."

While Rokaya will have to undergo many more surgeries in her life, Magee III said he is confident that the Egyptian team of doctors will be able to successfully take over Rokaya's medical needs.

"We're very well-experienced in terms of bringing in children around the world for these surgeries," said Magee III.  "We thought we could do an excellent job and get her home safely.  She's done quite well, better than we anticipated."

Rokaya was released from the intensive care unit (ICU) Monday.  She will likely be in the U.S. for another few weeks as she recovers from the surgery.

Nonprofits, including Mending Kids International, the Children of War, and Operation Smile -- an international medical charity committed to healing children's smiles -- helped Rokaya's family pay to travel to the U.S. and receive the surgery.  Operation Smile was founded by Magee's father, Dr. William Magee Jr. in 1982.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


STD Testing Hits L.A. Streets, Free for Women

L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas(LOS ANGELES) -- Sexual health clinics are hitting the streets in South Los Angeles, where women can now pick up home tests for chlamydia and gonorrhea from kiosks and a mobile health van.

The program, launched by L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, aims to curb the city’s troubling rise in sexually transmitted diseases. L.A. leads the nation in the number of chlamydia cases, and has the second-highest number of gonorrhea cases, most of them centered in the city’s south end.

“Unfortunately, these infectious diseases are at unacceptable levels and are increasing, particularly among young African-American women,” Ridley-Thomas said in a statement. “These are our mothers, our sisters, our daughters who are suffering from the health consequences of these STDs, and we cannot let them go untreated. Families depend upon them, communities depend upon them, but you can’t treat what you don’t know exists.”

The kiosks and van are an extension of the ongoing “I Know” initiative to raise STD awareness and increase testing. Until now, “I Know” provided free testing kits that could be ordered via mobile phones and the Web. In its first year, 2,927 kits were ordered and 1,543 testable swabs were returned, 131 came back positive for chlamydia or gonorrhea.

Chlamydia and gonorrhea are the most common infectious diseases in the U.S., affecting more than 1.5 million people — mostly women. When detected, the diseases are curable. But they can cause serious health complications, including sterility, if left untreated.

“Easy diagnostic testing and effective single-dose treatments mean there is no reason for anyone now to suffer infertility, tubal pregnancy, complications for newborns, or other serious long-term consequences of these unnecessarily common STDs,” L.A. County health officer Dr. Jonathan Fielding said in a statement.

Fielding added that most cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea are symptomless, and that regular screening is the only effective way to stop their spread.

The “I Know” kit and subsequent lab tests cost $26. But L.A. women will get it for free.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Porn Actor Retests HIV-Negative after Industry Shutdown

ABC News(LOS ANGELES) -- An adult film performer whose positive HIV test prompted the shutdown of Los Angeles' billion-dollar porn industry last week has been retested and does not have the virus, an industry trade group announced.

“This is good news for the primary patient, the industry will continue to be abundantly cautious as we try to nail down the reasons for what now appears to have been a false positive result on a previous test,” Free Speech Coalition executive director Diane Duke said in a statement.

"After discussion with our medical expert, he has advised that it would be appropriate for production to resume," she added.

HIV tests detect antibodies to the virus in a person's blood.  But because they are developed to be especially sensitive, they can sometimes generate a false positive result, according to the World Health Organization.  Therefore, positive results must be confirmed by another test method.

The HIV scare came less than one month after the Free Speech Coalition launched a new online sexual health database aimed at preventing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases among porn actors through mandatory testing.  To be listed in the database -- a requisite for getting work -- porn actors must get tested every 30 days and present a clean bill of health.  But critics say routine testing does not prevent STDs from creeping in.

"Testing is not a substitute for condom use, and it never will be," said Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation in Los Angeles.  "No test can detect HIV from the moment of infection.  There will always be a window period," which might not reflect recent infection.

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation is pushing for mandatory condom use in the making of adult films -- a move that's been met with strong resistance from the industry itself.

"If the market would accept condom-positive movies, that's what we would all be making.  The fact is consumers don't want that," Christian Mann, general manger of Evil Angel Productions and unpaid Free Speech Coalition board member, told ABC News when the database launched.

"The market will always trump regulation," said Mann.  "If you make it so California-based productions cannot compete in the market, you'll just drive production out of the state."

But Weinstein insists that worker safety should not be optional.

"You can't dangle from a 30-story building from a rope; you have to wear a harness," he said.  "The idea that hurting these performers is a matter of freedom of expression is simply wrong."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


US Radiation Breast Cancer Treatment Registry May Be Incomplete

ABC News(ANN ARBOR, Mich.) -- A new report suggests that nearly  20 percent of breast cancer radiation patients are not getting their treatments posted in a federal database.

The Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) database is overseen by the U.S. National Cancer Institute. Cancer researchers rely on the database to compare racial and geographic trends in the disease.

Researchers looked at SEER data in Detroit and Los Angeles and compared it with treatment center reports. They found that 273 of 1,292 patients were not getting their treatments recorded.

The study was published in the journal Cancer on June 29.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Flavored Milks No Longer an Option in LA Public School Cafeterias

Bananastock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- What role did a celebrity chef play in changing the policy on flavored milk in Los Angeles public schools?

Board of education officials aren't giving Jamie Oliver all the credit.  But the British food crusader had the school district in his crosshairs last year when he dramatically lobbied to change the L.A. school lunch program to provide healthier options -- all on camera in the second season of his ABC reality television show, Food Revolution.

Either way, the outcome is clear: if you're a Los Angeles public school student who likes some chocolate or strawberry flavoring added to your milk, you may be in for some disappointment.

"Jamie Oliver provided the opportunity to focus on an area that could contribute to ongoing district initiatives, which included the recommendation for the removal of flavored milk with added sugars," said a spokesperson for the school district.

But she noted that the Los Angeles Unified School District is already a recognized leader in the effort to promote healthy foods and lifestyles to combat health issues related to obesity.

"Our goal, in tandem with Jamie Oliver, is to continue to serve healthy and nutritious meals."

On Tuesday, the LAUSD decided, in a 5-2 vote, that L.A. public schools will no longer offer flavored milks as part of an effort to curb childhood obesity.

"Those excess calories are not needed and, when coupled with insufficient exercise, increases risk for students," said LAUSD food services director Dennis Binkle.  "These include the fat-free chocolate milk and fat-free strawberry milk."

The district -- the second-largest in the country -- joins several others, including Berkeley, California and Boulder Valley, Colorado that have also banned the sugary milks. On his show, Oliver explained there was as much sugar in a typical school-sized carton of flavored milk as there is in a full-sized candy car.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio