Let’s start with radiation. Radiation is the sending out of energy from any given source. There are different types of radiation running across a large spectrum of frequencies . X-rays/gamma rays are examples of high frequency, or high energy, radiation, and radio waves are examples of low frequency, or low energy radiation.
There are many different types of radiation. We are going to focus on UV (ultraviolet) radiation in this edition of Golden Nuggets.
What is Ultraviolet (UV) Radiation?
Ultraviolet radiation is a type of electromagnetic radiation. It is on the frequency spectrum in between visible light and x-rays. The chief source of UV radiation is the sun, accounting for about 95% of all human exposure. The other 5% of exposure comes through
man-made sources include tanning beds, welding torches, phototherapy, black lamps, UV sanitizing bulbs usedto kill bacteria/germs in water, food etc., and mercury torches.
There are 3 types of UV radiation (determined by their wavelength):
a) UVA rays are the weakest. They can cause damage to skin cells such as wrinkles, and may cause skin cancers.
b) UBV rays stronger than UVA, causing damage to DNA in skin cells. They are the main UV rays responsible for sunburns and related to most skin cancers.
c) UVC rays the strongest type of UV radiation. Because of their energy levels, they react with the ozone layer in our upper atmosphere and don’t reach our skin. They do come from man-made sources like welding torches or mercury lamps. If exposure occurs, UVC rays are linked with cancer.
Sources: www.cancer.org; "What is UV Radiation?” and “How Are People Exposed to
UV Radiation & Other Summer Safety Tips
Exposure to these various UV rays, over time, is linked to skin damage including wrinkles, aging and cancer. How do we stay safe, prevent these issues?
We all want to get out and enjoy the sunny, warm summer weather - barbecues, beach days, exercising. It’s important to do so safely, limiting your sun exposure, and taking precautions when you will be out in the sun.
Here are some tips to be safe while in the sun:
- Wear sun block: using a broad spectrum sun block, with a minimum SPF of 30 will help reduce the effects of UV radiation on your skin. Be sure to reapply about every 2 hours, especially if sweating or swimming. Choose one that is “water resistant”, “broad spectrum”, “SPF 30” or above.
- Avoid being in direct sunlight for extended periods of time between the hours of 10am and 4pm. UV rays are strongest during those times. Find shade if possible.
- Protect your skin with clothing and hats if out in the direct sun for any length of time.
- Wear sunglasses with UV protection lenses.
- Stay hydrated! Drink lots of water!
Source: “Protect Your Skin from the Sun”, Stacy Simon, May 11, 2015; www.cancer.org