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Summer Sun Safety: Tips for Skin Cancer Prevention in Your Car

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SOURCE Eastman Chemical Company

ST. LOUIS, July 3, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Summer is here and when you think about sun exposure, the first thing that comes to mind is the beach or the pool.  But millions of Americans receive a large portion of their sun exposure where they don't even realize it -- in their cars.

Summer is here and when you think about sun exposure, the first thing that comes to mind is the beach or the pool.  But millions of Americans receive a large portion of their sun exposure where they don’t even realize it -- in their cars. Children in the rear seat of cars are susceptible to harmful UVA rays which can penetrate unprotected window glass.

Many people are unaware the sun's harmful rays can penetrate glass – both in cars and buildings. Scientific research shows drivers are especially vulnerable on the left side of their bodies, where they are exposed to harmful ultraviolet A (UVA) rays from side windows in cars, which are typically unprotected.

According to The Skin Cancer Foundation, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States.  More than 3.5 million skin cancers in over two million people are diagnosed annually.

"Damage from certain kinds of ultraviolet rays is cumulative," says Dr. Luciann Hruza, a dermatologist in St. Louis, Missouri.  "These rays, called UVA rays, penetrate deep into the skin and can silently accelerate the aging process, cause wrinkles and even skin cancer."  Unlike UVB rays, which create immediate effects like blistering and burns, UVA rays create long-term damage that is not immediately noticeable. "That's why many people don't realize their skin is getting damaged from sitting near windows in cars or even at their desks at work," says Dr. Hruza.

Below are some tips on how you can protect yourself while in your car this summer.

  • Consider putting tint on your car windows. Ultraviolet radiation from the sun, associated with about 90 percent of all skin cancers, reaches the earth as UVA and UVB rays.  A car's side and rear windows allow UVA to penetrate.  So when you are in your car, your skin is being exposed to the sun and its harmful rays.  Some tints, when applied to car windows, can block 99.9 percent of UV rays.  There are new clear films, sold under the brand name LLumar®, for those who don't care for a tinted look.
  • Take special care to limit your exposure to UV rays of the sun by applying a broad-spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 everyday, even if it is cloudy outside and use about an ounce (two tablespoons) of sunscreen over your entire body, including the face.  Because UVA passes through the window glass, make sure your sunscreen contains some combination of UVA-shielding ingredients such as zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, stabilized avobenzone, or ecamsule (as found in L'Oreal MexorylTM).  Be sure to reapply after two hours, or after excessive sweating.
  • Sunscreen takes about 20 minutes to start working once it is applied.  So you'll want to remember to apply it at least 20 minutes before you go into your car or you'll be missing 20 minutes of sunscreen coverage.  Many people commonly make this mistake.
  • You should wear protective clothing, a long-sleeved shirt and pants and a wide-brimmed hat whenever possible and you should also wear sunglasses to protect your eyes and surrounding tissues from absorbing the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun.
  • It's good practice to do skin self-checks every month to keep track of your brown spots and freckles. You should also see a dermatologist every year for a complete skin exam.

Anyone can develop skin cancer.  It does not attack any particular age, race or skin type.  The disease also does not spread according to a particular geographical location.  By following the prevention tips presented in this article, you can reduce the damaging effects the sun can have on your skin both on the road and once you reach your destination.

Eastman is a global specialty chemical company that produces a broad range of products found in items people use every day. With a portfolio of specialty businesses, Eastman works with customers to deliver innovative products and solutions while maintaining a commitment to safety and sustainability. Its market-driven approaches take advantage of world-class technology platforms and leading positions in attractive end-markets such as transportation, building and construction and consumables. Eastman focuses on creating consistent, superior value for all stakeholders. As a globally diverse company, Eastman serves customers in approximately 100 countries and had 2013 revenues of approximately $9.4 billion. The company is headquartered in Kingsport, Tennessee, USA and employs approximately 14,000 people around the world. For more information, visit www.eastman.com.

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