The Sunny Side of Safety-Environmental Health & Safety - Carnegie Mellon University

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Sunny Side of Safety

So it is finally summer, and after the winter we had, you are more than ready to soak up the sun’s rays.  But before you head outdoors, check your “Sun Smarts.”  Did you know that 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of their lifetime, making skin cancer the most common cancer in the U.S?  Melanomas, the most serious form of skin cancer, are generally caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays, such as those produced by the sun and tanning beds. 

As you enjoy the warmth of summer, be sure to follow these “Sun Safety” guidelines:

  • Check the U.S. EPA’s UV Index before going outdoors.  Many weather broadcasts and websites display the UV Index along with the temperature and forecast.
  • Seek shade, especially during midday (10 AM-4PM).
  • Avoid tanning booths and other forms of artificial UV light.  Remember, no tan is a “healthy tan.”
  • Cover skin with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
  • Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day you will be out and about. For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant, broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
  • Apply sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside.
  • Read the application directions on your sunscreen.  Usually, the bottle will say when to reapply sunscreen (generally, every 1-2 hours, and immediately after swimming, sweating, or toweling off).
  • Check your sunscreen’s expiration date.  Active protective ingredients in sunscreen will not last indefinitely.  Most are good for 1 or 2 years.  Chances are, if you purchased the bottle prior to this millennium, it’s time for some new sunscreen.
  • Also, do a monthly self-exam  to check for new moles or changes in your skin.  As always, seek professional medical attention if you have concerns.

By: Angela Reid, angelar@andrew.cmu.edu, 412-268-7502