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Protecting Yourself From The Sun


If we were to start a discussion on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), where would it lead? Many people would talk about safety glasses, hearing protection, gloves, and all sorts of other important items. Unfortunately, one item that often gets left out of the discussion is sunscreen and other items to prevent sunburn.

Skin cancer rates in the US are rising. A recent study conducted by the International Journal of Cancer found that 91% of all melanomas (a type of skin cancer) in the US are linked with ultraviolet (UV) radiation, mostly due to sun exposure. The study further ranked each state by the incidence rate of melanoma attributed to UV radiation, and found Georgia had the 4th most cases per 100,000.

“The amount of UV exposure you get depends on both the strength of the sun’s rays—measured by the UV Index—and the length of the time your skin is exposed to it,” said Farhad Islami, MD, PhD, the study’s lead author and an ACS Scientific Director in Surveillance Research.

When you’re outside and the UV Index is high, you increase the chance of sunburn and skin damage that could ultimately lead to skin cancer.

The risk of melanoma increases when people spend prolonged time outdoors without enough sun protection, especially during activities like going to a beach, lake, or outdoor swimming pool, as well as boating, and water or snow skiing. Jobs that involve a lot of time outdoors, like farming or construction work, may also increase the risk of melanoma when workers don’t use sufficient sun protection.

“You can’t change the UV Index, but you can change how long you’re outside and how you protect your skin,” Islami said. For instance, you can seek shade, avoid peak sunlight, wear protective clothing, and use sunscreen.

This month’s Safety Alert focuses on what you can do to protect yourself from the sun.


McDowell, Sandy. “Researchers Identify States Where Improved Sun Protection Could Prevent the Most Melanomas.” American Cancer Society, American Cancer Society, 17 Feb. 2020,