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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