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Sun safety: What outdoor-based employees should know. (Health).

Safety issues are an important concern for outdoor-based employees. Safety personnel review, plan, and implement numerous safety measures related to construction, maintenance procedures, and other outdoor duties to protect all staff. Yet sun safety is often neglected, despite the sun's dominant, daily presence in the sky.

This oversight persists despite the fact that one in five Americans is expected to get skin cancer in his or her lifetime, chiefly caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation in sunlight. With over one million new cases expected this year, skin cancer is now considered an epidemic. Each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than the collective total of new cancers of the prostate, breast, lung, and colon! In addition to skin cancer, excessive exposure to sunlight can cause accelerated aging (wrinkles and blotches), cataracts, and a weakened immune system.

Tanning also injures the skin. For both children and adults, tanning is an outward sign of internal skin damage. The idea that a tan indicates health is a social myth, not a factual reality.

Skin Cancer Rates Are Rising

Skin cancer rates have increased dramatically, especially in the last few decades, from these and other factors:

* Increased leisure time devoted to outdoor activities.

* Decrease in the coverage of clothing worn.

* National population migration to sunnier states.

* Decreasing amounts of stratospheric ozone that partially protects the earth's surface from receiving cancer-producing UV radiation.

* Tanning is falsely viewed as healthy.

* General aging of the population.

Skin Cancer Prevention

* Reduce sun exposure from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., when UV rays are strongest. (This is especially important from mid-spring through mid-fall.)

* Wear a wide-brimmed hat (at least 4-inch brim) that produces a shadow that covers the eyes, nose, face, ears, and neck.

* Wear tightly-woven, loose-fitting clothing that covers as much of the body as possible, weather permitting.

* When feasible, find shade (trees, physical structures) to shield you, especially from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

* Use sunglasses that include a warranty stating that they provide 100 percent UVA and UVB (broad-spectrum) protection. Prescription glasses can have a UV-protective coating applied to the lens.

* Liberally apply sunscreen to exposed skin one-half hour before going outdoors. The sunscreen container should have a sun protection factor (SPF) rating of 15 or above and should state that it provides broad-spectrum (UVA and UVB) protection. PABA-free sunscreens are recommended for persons with sensitive skin. Depending on outdoor conditions, sunscreen should be reapplied at least every two hours.

* Individuals with sensitive skin may want to test a new sunscreen on a small portion of skin to see if any negative reactions occur in twenty-four hours.

* Use lip balm with an SPF 15 or greater.

* Avoid tanning salons, booths, and sunlamps.

Reprinted by permission from California Department of Health Services, Sun-Safety Kit.
COPYRIGHT 2002 American Camping Association
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2002, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Publication:Camping Magazine
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Mar 1, 2002
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