UV Exposure and Your Health: Get the Facts

I was sitting in the waiting room at my doctor’s office the other day. Sure I had my laptop and cell phone to keep me busy, but my eyes strayed to the pictures on the walls for a bit of distraction anyway. I noticed a poster showing an extreme rock climber hanging from a vertical face, clearly thousands of feet above solid ground and nothing but blue sky behind him. The caption read ‘This guy must be crazy…’  No doubt. Then it went on to say ‘He’s not wearing sunscreen!’  Wow, that was a surprise and a real eye opener. We really do have to take the dangers of UV to a new height (pun intended).

Being in the retractable canopy business, I’m the first to admit it’s not my place to write a blog about how our canopies can save you and yours from the ravages of the sun. That’s being a bit too presumptuous for my liking. However, I was surprised by what I learned reading a silly little cartoon poster on the same wall. So being the resident ShadeFX canopy blogger, I’ll share my new knowledge with you.

First, eighty percent of the sun’s rays pass through the clouds. I thought about that and it makes perfect sense. If they didn’t, it would be dark on a cloudy day. But in the meantime, the UV is there, and it can be at enough strength to sunburn.  This overview at the US Environmental Protection Agency informs us of how the sun’s energy and various types of ultraviolet radiation that can be dangerous to our skin.

So when you’re enjoying your deck or patio, even on the cloudy days, a retractable canopy using Sunbrella™ fabric will protect you and yours from 90-99% (provided it’s extended J) of the UV radiation you are exposed to.

Second, I don’t have any age spots yet, but at fifty-one, I’m sure they’re around the corner. I always thought they were simply the result of aging, however, the poster in the doctor’s office says otherwise.  Again, a little research and I learned a lot. They come from ‘long-term’ exposure to UV regardless of sunburns in your past or not.  See the Mayo Clinic’s overview of age spots.

I don’t think this knowledge would have changed my behavior toward UV in my teens. But it has now, and for anybody open to adjusting their behavior, the sooner the better.

Regarding sunscreen, I feel a little more informed. I always knew you had to maintain coverage by reapplying it, but I did not know you have to apply it thirty minutes before sun exposure. So you really have to plan for that. Then what, set a timer for the two hour reapplication intervals? I know it seems a bit much, but these are the facts. Think about where you spend your time outdoors. Would a retractable canopy give you the protection you need most of the time?

The last point on the poster is regarding sun tans. I admit I like to ‘soak up the rays’ every now and then, especially in the spring. But again, those in the know say otherwise. The simple truth is that exposure to the sun and UV rays accelerates the aging process (of the skin anyway) and increases the risk of skin cancer; I know, it’s a bummer.

Anyway, this is the old news part. Shade has been a desirable outdoor living feature since the dawn of leaves on trees, and now with retractable canopies, you can get your shade at the push of a button.  Now that’s progress!