Harmful UV rays are not completely blocked by windows either in the home or in the car, meaning everyone is at risk for indoor UV exposure. It’s a no-brainer to slather on the sunblock during the summer when UV exposure is most intense, but few people know they should wear it indoors as well.
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What Is UVA And UVB Ultraviolet Radiation
Most of us know what ultraviolet radiation is, but many don’t know UV radiation is further classified into UVA and UVB. But, what’s the difference between UVA and UVB rays? It’s true they can both lead to skin damage and even cancer, but UVB rays are associated with sunburns and are even more likely to cause melanoma. Fortunately, UVB rays aren’t a concern indoors since windows block their harmful effects. UVA rays can pass through windows that don’t have a protective cover. Those rays have been closely linked to premature aging of the skin because they can penetrate deeper than UVB rays. Indoor UV exposure then becomes an issue of accelerating skin aging by an average of five to seven years based on a recent study lead by Dr. Humbert.
The Scary Truth About UVA Rays
Have you ever noticed some people look a lot older than they are? True, genetic factors, diet, and certain lifestyle choices all play roles in how quickly the body ages, but how much sunlight exposure you get without the proper protective measures is guaranteed to make you look far older than your years. There are five hundred times more UVA rays than UVB rays present in sunlight, and most of the traditional sunblock sold at stores is only equipped to handle UVB rays. That means most UVA rays are still bombarding the skin with their aging effects.
Steps You Can Take To Reduce UV Exposure
UV exposure is especially dangerous to light-skinned people who don’t have a high level of melanin that naturally protects the skin from the damaging effects of the sun. Regardless of skin color, everyone should see a dermatologist at least once a year to get their skin checked for precancerous or cancerous moles. The good news is that there are several steps you can take to minimize the damage to your skin.
- Install light covers and light tubes to filter out UV rays that otherwise leak through windows
- Invest in some facial lotion or foundation with SPF protection
- Wear long sleeves and pants or light cover-ups even in the heat
- Sit further away from windows and desk lamps
- Purchase a Qtemp that will alert you when UV radiation levels are high
- Replace fluorescent light bulbs with LED light bulbs
- Don’t use tanning beds or lamps used to dry nail polish
Indoor UV Radiation Takeaways
It’s bad enough that Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) used in refrigerants and aerosol spray propellants depleted the protective ozone layer that blocks radiation from the sun. With the reduction in atmospheric protection coupled with changes in fashion trends that have seen a decrease in clothing coverage, skin cancer has been on the rise since the 1970s. Always assume where there is light there are ultraviolet rays and take the measures suggested above to protect your skin from damage.