Understanding UV Safety

October 2018

Q: I read that skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S. How can I protect myself and my family from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays?

A: It’s true that skin cancer, while largely preventable, is the most common form of cancer in the U.S., according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Overexposure to UV radiation from the sun also can result in a painful sunburn, premature aging of the skin, cataracts and other eye damage, and immune- system suppression. Children are particularly at risk. The EPA recommends these action steps:

  • Don’t burn. Sunburns significantly increase one’s lifetime risk of developing skin cancer, especially for children.
  • Avoid sun tanning and tanning beds. UV light from tanning beds and the sun causes skin cancer and wrinkling.
  • Generously apply sunscreen. Use about one ounce to cover all exposed skin 20 minutes before going outside. Sunscreen should have a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 15 and should provide protection from both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. Reapply every two hours, even on cloudy days, and after swimming or sweating.
  • Wear protective clothing. Wear a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, when possible.

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