The Health Risks of Sun Exposure and Practical Ways to Protect Your Family

May 21, 2012
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On May 20th, 2012 there was a pretty spectacular solar eclipse that was visible in the Western United States. Before the moon moved completely in front of the sun (I heard it covered 86% of the sun’s visible surface), my mother text me with “Impressive eclipse going on right now. Protect your eyes though.” I replied, “How?” She then replied, “What do you mean how? A solar eclipse that’s how!” I don’t think she noticed that I was referring to protecting my eyes. solar eclipse ring of fire on may 20th, 2012The comments on twitter were actually pretty hilarious as well. A lot of tweeters were posing rhetorical questions like, “How do I look at an eclipse without burning my eyes? Doesn’t make sense.” If you didn’t get a chance to check it out, I included an awesome picture that shows the “ring of fire” eclipse.

Thinking about the eclipse and the damage it can cause to one’s eyes prompted us to provide our visitors with some valuable information regarding the harmful effects of UV radiation, over-exposure to the sun, and heat. We wanted to provide some facts and figures regarding the health risks of sun exposure and how our products provide a stylish solution to this problem (We had to work our product plug somehow!). Before we waste anymore of your time, let’s look at some of the science provided by the EPA.

EPA Facts and Figures on UV Radiation

According to scientists, there are three distinct bands of UV radiation: UVA, UVB, and UVC. We need to be worried about UVA. That’s the nasty stuff that our earth’s atmosphere cannot absorb (If only it tried harder!). There a few distinct factors that affect the levels of UVA rays.

  • Time of Day
  • Time of Year
  • Weather Conditions
  • Reflection

Depending on where you live, these factors range considerably. Our company is based in Phoenix, Arizona, so we are well-aware that consistent, heavy heat is present nearly all day during the summer. Most of us own pools, and as the EPA suggests, water reflects UV radiation and this reflection intensifies the damage. Thus, protecting your family with adequate shading is important. Covering your pool with a shade sail or shade awning can prevent harmful radiation.

Health Risks

According to the World Health Organization, UVA rays are the cause of many dangerous ailments including melanoma (skin cancer), cataracts and eye damage, as well as long-term immune deficiency. We have included this graph to illustrate exposure vs. risk of disease (courtesy of WHO).uv exposure and the burden of disease The American Academy of Pediatrics released a report which can be found here, which examines in detail the effects of UV radiation, specifically UVA. Some of their suggestions for prevention are as follows,

  • Do not burn; avoid suntanning and tanning beds
  • Wear protective clothing and hats
  • Seek shade
  • Use extra caution near water, snow, and sand
  • Apply sunscreen
  • Wear sunglasses

Shade Masters sun shades are a practical solution to mitigating long-term effects of exposure. Our custom shade sails have been popular in Arizona, and our customers have given us lots of positive feedback on the effectiveness of the awnings. Beyond the dermatological risks, over-exposure to the sun poses risk to heat stroke. Drinking in the sun and playing in the sun are all activities that many of us enjoy, however there are extreme risks if proper precaution isn’t taken. Heat stroke is too often overlooked as a danger in the summer. That’s why we are working on a great new product that is both affordable and functional.

This new product will be an adjustable, motor-powered, outside sun shade that can move at the user’s whim. In the near future we should be able to provide you with some great video content of this adjustable awning in action. In the mean time, if you are interested in learning more about shade sails, shade awnings, or patio covers we strongly urge you to click those links and read more about them. You can also visit our gallery of products here and our store here.

While the sun is the reason most of us love Arizona, it is still critical to protect ourselves from it. We want to keep you safe and healthy and enjoying life. Start by understanding the risks of over-exposure to the sun and UV radiation, and practice some techniques to keep you and your family safe.