A Little More Sun Protection Information

As I mentioned in the answer to Marlene Ward’s question on Monday, the ozone layer and clothing does help in protecting us from the sun’s damaging rays. The degree to which these two “sunscreens” help depends on location and composition.

The ozone is thickest at the north and south poles and is the thinnest at the equator. Ultraviolet ray intensity increases about 10% with every 1,000 feet of elevation above sea level. Therefore, Denver, the Mile High City, 5,280 feet above sea level, has a higher intensity of UV rays due to its altitude versus New Orleans, which is at sea level.

The sunscreen benefit of clothing is related to the thickness, type of fiber, weave, stretch, color, and other factors. A point of interest is the fact that nylon stockings have an SPF of only 2 to 3.

It is important to remember that fog and clouds only reduce UV intensity about 30% and that UV protection is needed even on cloudy days.

Don’t be fooled by window glass and sunglasses. UVB rays (the sunburn rays) are blocked by glass, but the UVA rays (the longer wavelength UV rays) pass through window glass and sunglasses and can damage the skin and eyes.

All the news is not bad. There have been advances. Environmental regulations have improved the thickness of the ozone layer. Clothing has been manufactured to provide sun protection, some chemically treated with sunscreen agents. Glass has been thickened, polarized, and tinted to increase its sun protective properties. Many cosmetic products contain pigment and sunscreen ingredients, which increase their sun protection ability to an SPF 3-15, based on the product.

When you are preparing to go out in the sun and applying your sunscreen products and/or apparel, keep in mind a couple places that some people neglect and then suffer the consequences later. The scalp can definitely burn…and I’m not just speaking of those with no hair. The sun can penetrate your hair and melanomas could occur yet be hidden under your hair. It’s best to wear a hat made from a tightly woven fabric or even a hair product with SPF in it.

Another overlooked spot is the rims of your ears. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, the two most common forms of skin cancer (basal and squamous-cell carcinoma) are primarily found on ears. Be sure to apply your sunscreen to your ears as part of your application routine.

Now that spring…and soon summer…is upon us, be sure you are diligent in protecting yourself from the damage that can be done by UVB and UVA rays. Use your sunscreen each and every day!

Leave a Reply