When we talk about exposure to UV rays, we generally imagine a situation where we’re actively spending time outside on a warm day. However, there’s actually a number of unsuspecting places where we’re exposed to the sun’s rays without even realizing it. Take a look at these five unexpected places to avoid unforeseen UV exposure.
1. On the Ski Mountain
As we’re getting close to winter, many of us will be heading up the mountains to hit the ski slopes. Skiers and snowboarders pay special attention: you can be exposed to harsh UV rays even on top of the mountains. Snow on the ground can reflect up to 80% of UV rays emitted from the sun, putting you at an increased risk of sunburns and UV-related skin damage.¹ Since these sports take place at a higher altitude, there’s also an increase in UV radiation. If you’re going skiing, snowboarding, or enjoying other winter sports this winter, make sure you wear UV protective clothing and sun goggles, and apply broad-spectrum sunscreen. Pay special attention to often-missed spots like your ears, neck, and under your chin.
2. On Cloudy Days
You may believe that on cloudy or rainy days, the sun’s rays can’t reach you and there’s no need for sunscreen. Contrary to popular belief, you can still be exposed to UV rays even when the sun is nowhere in sight. As a matter of fact, up to 80% of the sun’s UV rays can penetrate through clouds and cause damage to your skin.² That’s why it’s not unheard of to get sunburned on a cloudy day. Next time you’re out on a grey day, don’t forget to put on your sunscreen. You can also use Sun Index, which will let you know the real-time UV Index in your exact location and give you personalized sun safety recommendations.
3. At Work
You might be wondering how you could be exposed to the sun’s rays if you work indoors and spend most of your time at your office desk. In fact, if you’re working near a window, chances are you could be exposed to UV rays. The sun emits two types of UV rays that can reach us: UVB rays, which cause sunburns, and UVA rays, which cause premature aging. Both types of radiation are associated with skin cancer.³ UVB rays are absorbed by glass, but up to 75% of UVA rays can penetrate through glass.⁴ To protect yourself from UV radiation indoors, make sure to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen or install sun protected shades for your windows. You can also use Sun Index to monitor the amount of UV radiation that reaches you indoors.
4. In the Car
Along the same lines, UV rays can also reach you when you’re on the road. Windshields are specially made with two layers of glass laminated with a plastic layer in between to block both UVB and UVA rays. On the other hand, your side and rear windows are generally made from a single-pane glass which are only effective at blocking out UVB rays, letting as much as 75% of UVA rays through. To stay safe in the car, remember your broad-spectrum sunscreen, sun-protective clothing, and sunglasses. You can also get UV protective film for your side and rear windows to protect against UVA rays.
5. On the Plane
UV rays can also catch you when you’re in flight. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, for every 1000 foot increase in elevation, there is roughly a 2% increase in UV radiation.² While the airplane windows will protect passengers from UVB rays, they don’t fully block out UVA rays. So when the plane is in flight, you could be exposed to considerable UV radiation. To protect yourself from sun damage on the airplane, remember your broad-spectrum sunscreen and keep your curtains closed when possible.
- Skin Cancer Foundation (2015). The Skin Cancer Foundation Shares Essential Sun Safety Tips for Outdoor Sports. Retrieved November 30th, 2017
- United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2004). A Guide to the UV Index. Retrieved November 30th, 2017
- Skin Cancer Foundation. (2013). UVA & UVB. Retrieved November 30th, 2017
- Duarte I., Rotter, A., Malvestiti A., Silva, M. (2009). The role of glass as a barrier against the transmission of ultraviolet radiation: an experimental study. Photodermatology, Photoimmunology, & Photomedicine, 25(4):181-184. Retrieved November 30th, 2017