by Todd Manning
Senior Project Manager

Beginning in 2008, The American Academy of Ophthalmology named July as UV Awareness Month. It makes perfect sense for the hottest month of the year to be designated UV Safety Awareness Month. People are outdoors more, it is very warm, and the potential to damage to one’s exposed skin is at its peak from radiation in the form of ultraviolet light. UV rays are invisible radiation that comes from the sun, tanning beds, and sunlamps. These rays can penetrate and change skin cells.

Specifically, the three types of UV light rays are designated as Ultraviolet A (UVA), Ultraviolet B (UVB), and Ultraviolet C (UVC). Ozone in the Earth’s stratosphere blocks OVC, however UVB and UVA rays pass through the atmosphere causing adverse health consequences that include; sunburns, skin cancers, eye damage (cataracts, cornea damage, macular degeneration), and wrinkles.

Over-exposure to the sun, especially between the hours of 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM, when UV light is strongest, can occur within 5-15 minutes for light skinned persons and after about 30 minutes for darker skinned people. According to the Nevada Cancer Coalition, one in five individuals will be diagnosed with skin cancers such as basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, and melanoma in their lifetimes, some as early as teens and 20s. Skin cancer is preventable if precautions are taken to include the five S’s: “Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek, and Slide” as designated by the Nevada Cancer Coalition’s Sun Smart Nevada Program as follows:

  • Slip on a long-sleeved shirt or sun protective clothing. Dark or bright colors absorb more UV rays than lighter colors. Nylon and polyester fabrics block rays the best. Some clothing is made with UV protection.
  • Slop on broad spectrum sunscreen of sun protection factor (SPF) 30 or greater and re-apply every two hours. If you apply a 30 SPF sunscreen sufficiently and evenly, it will take 30 times longer for your skin to burn than if you had no sunscreen at all. Use a least 1 ounce of sunscreen, about enough to fill the palm of your hand.
  • Slap on a hat, with a wide brim. The hat should protect the eyes, forehead, nose and ears and include a 2 to 3-inch brim all around.
  • Seek shade or shelter during peak exposure time from 10 AM to 4 PM. Be aware that sun damage can occur even through clouds during these hours, especially in lower latitudes.
  • Slide on UV-protective sunglasses to protect the eyes. Use wrap around or oversized styles to block up to 99% of UV rays.

Following the five S’s above will lessen the harmful outcomes of over exposure to the sun’s rays. One need not eliminate all exposure to the sun because UV rays also stimulate production of vitamin D in the body which helps the body absorb calcium and strengthens the immune system. Use good judgement when having fun in the sun not only in July but the entire year long.

If you have questions regarding UV protection or other safety concerns, please contact Todd Manning, Senior Project Manager with EI, at (804) 647-8199 or [email protected].