Your car window could be a health hazard

Your car window could be a health hazard

You may be getting some serious sun exposure when you aren’t even expecting it.

A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has found the level of ultraviolet A (UV-A) light protection in car side windows may not be enough to guard against the sun’s harmful rays.

On average, the researchers determined front windows blocked 96 percent of UV-A rays, but side windows only blocked 71 percent of the rays.  UV-A exposure has long been linked to both skin cancer and cataracts, and this discrepancy could account for the rise in cataracts in left eyes as well as skin cancer on the left side of the face.

In addition to these general public health concerns, there are people who should take extra precautions with this sun exposure threat, says Dr. Martha Arroyo, an Advocate Physician Partners dermatologist with Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Ill.

“Some individuals have high sensitivity to UV-A and UV-B rays due to medications (e.g. blood pressure pills, heart drugs, immunosuppressants, etc.) or because of medical conditions (e.g. lupus or dermatomyositis patients),” says Dr. Arroyo. “In addition, we are seeing so many more transplant patients who need to consider this issue because they are at higher risk from UV exposure because of being immunosuppressed.”

Dr. Arroyo offers these recommendations to protect from the UV rays while in a car:

  • Use broad spectrum sunscreen
  • Apply the sunscreen 20-30 minutes before exposure.
  • Wear sun protective clothing if driving long distances.
  • Wear hats and sunscreen even while driving short distances.
  • Consider purchasing protective filters for the side windows.
  • Research having the car windows tinted. Rules vary based on the state, but some people, such as transplant patients, may be able to use a physician’s letter to allow placement.

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  1. Kathryn Schubert May 18, 2016 at 1:47 pm · Reply

    Recently a murder was committed because of a tinted side window. The killer didn’t like them and shot through the window killing a mother he didn’t even know. Just because he doesn’t like tinted windows.

    I don’t like them either because you can’t make eye contact with the driver to see if they are aware you are outside their car. And they are illegal in Illinois I think.

  2. Iryne Schubert May 20, 2016 at 3:58 pm · Reply

    So true, I had a very small basal cell removed from my left temple area approximately 14 years ago. I was living in Arizona at that time for a period of 11 years.

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.