That Sneaky One

The sun is responsible for the Ultraviolet Radiation (UVR) found on earth’s surface. UVR is categorized as a carcinogen. In case you don't know, a carcinogen is any substance that causes cancer or helps cancer grow in our bodies.

What is UVR?

There are 3 types of rays emitted by the sun: UVA, UVB and UVC. 

UVA Rays. 

They are not absorbed by the ozone layer and are able to penetrate the skin deeply. They cause skin cells to age and can cause indirect damage to a cell’s DNA. These rays are associated with long-term damage to the skin such as wrinkling, leathering, sagging, and ultimately skin cancer.

UVB Rays.

They are partially absorbed by the ozone layer and mostly affect the surface of the skin. UVB rays cause direct damage to our skin’s DNA. They have more energy than UVA and are the primary cause of sunburns. These rays are thought to cause most cases of skin cancer.

UVC Rays.

They have way more energy than UVA and UVB. Luckily, they don't get through our atmosphere and are not in our sunlight. We thought you should know they exist in case you get tested at school.


What Factors Affect UVR?

Time of day.

Stronger radiation will exist between 10am and 4pm. Even if the radiation index is low that day, remember it will be at its peak closer to noon! (We’ll get to the radiation index later). A good rule to remember is: if your shadow is shorter than your height, your UV exposure is high and you need to #stayshady. If the length of your shadow is longer than you, your UV exposure is not as high but you should still #StayShady. 

Season of the year. 

UV rays will be stronger during the summer months than during the winter. Can you believe that sunburns can occur up to 6 times faster in the summer? Probably, but why? This happens because UVB varies depending on the season but UVA is constant throughout the year. Also, don't be fooled- a cloudy day can harm us just as much as a sunny one! Although clouds can reduce UV exposure a bit, 80% of rays will still pass through the clouds and reach us.


UV exposure will be greater closer to the equator than anywhere else (if you don't know what the equator is please go tell your geography teacher he is failing!). This is because UV rays travel a shorter distance near the equator and therefore have a higher intensity when hitting the ground.


 The higher you are, the more UV exposure you will have- next time you go to the mountains remember that! For every 1000 meters above sea level, the UV exposure is increased by up to 16%.


I bet you didn’t know this one! UV Rays can bounce off surfaces such as water, sand, snow, pavement, concrete and even freaking grass, and increase the UV index greatly. Things such as our favorite parks, concrete jungles like NYC, the ocean, and that ski slope we love, will all contribute to an increased UV Index.

How to Know Our UV Exposure?

During the 1980’s the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Weather Service developed a UV Index that helps measure the UV radiation at the Earth’s surface. The index serves as an indicator of the UV rays’s potential to cause skin damage from overexposure to the sun. It predicts the UV intensity level for the following day on a scale from 0-10+. It is calculated for sea-level elevation and it factors in weather variables such as clouds, rain, etc - we think its pretty accurate! 

The table below shows how the index works and how it can help you:

You can get a particular day’s UV index forecast from any weather service agency in your area. It is a good habit to check the index before leaving your house to know how #shady you will need to be that day.

Go to our next page so you can learn how the sun affects our skin!



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