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  • Pauline Hoffmann

Sun Exposure

Updated: Nov 4, 2021

What are the risks and how do you protect yourself and others?

First of all, my apologies. This has been one heck of a week and I am way behind. The podcast posted this morning and I haven't written the associated blog that was supposed to be written on Tuesday. Yikes! Forgive me...and it isn't because I've been in the sun.

This week's episode is dear to me. My father died of melanoma over 30 years ago. He was 42 years old; I was 19. July is UV Safety Awareness Month. It is fitting because we generally associate sun exposure with summer (it is summer in the Northern Hemisphere). Sun exposure may occur year-round as you will hear in the podcast.

I did find a couple of incredibly helpful resources that are from reputable organizations. The first is a UV Guide from the World Health Organization (WHO). A word about the WHO.....yes, it's gotten some bad press because of the pandemic, however, it is still a reputable worldwide organization. A pdf of the guide may be accessed here. The guide details what UV rays are, what influences them, the effects of prolonged sun exposure, myths and facts associated with UV rays and sun exposure, and how you may protect yourself and others.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a wonderful month-by-month graphic that shows UV levels in the United States. You may view it here.

The European Space Agency has some colorful maps that show UV rays worldwide at different times of the year. Take a look here.

I was able to find many statistics related to skin cancer as well as how to protect yourself by going to the Skin Cancer Foundation website here. There is so much additional information here also. If you want to look at data, I direct you to this section specifically. Please also take a look at the site for information about prevention, treatment of sunburn, resources, and early detection. (Please know your risks and also how to detect the cancer!) The early detection section gives you detailed information about what you should look for on your skin and how you should look for it.

Avoiding sun exposure particularly during peak times (about 10 a.m. to about 5 p.m.) is key but sunscreen may also protect you. I like the sport sunscreens because I sweat and I also use SPF 50+. Hey, I'm paranoid. There are two kinds of sunscreens: physical and chemical. I generally use chemical, however, there are several locations in the world that are banning chemical sunscreens in favor of physical sunscreens (those that contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide). Chemical sunscreens have been shown to have deleterious effects on the environment particularly coral reefs. One of my favorite sites - National Geographic - has a wonderful article noting what sunscreens are best for you and why. You may view it here.

To find physical sunscreens that protect the planet, Haereticus Environmental Laboratory, a non-profit "scientific organization dedicated to increasing the scientific, social and economic knowledge of natural environmental habitats in order to better conserve and restore threatened environmental habitats and resources," (description taken from its website), tests and provides a Protect Land and Sea Certification. A list of certified sunscreens as well as information about the non-profit may be found here.

And this week's Arbitrary Random Statistic (ARS) has nothing to do with sun exposure or melanoma. Our National Diary Month podcast introduced us to all things cows and dairy. Our Executive Producer, Bryce Murphy, asked where cows came from. Wired Magazine had an interesting article about a decade ago noting the origins of cows. You may view it here.

Enjoy the rest of July and enjoy it safely! I want to hand onto our listeners!

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