Green Tips: UV Safety

Green Tips | July 30, 2020

In the summer, the days are longer, hotter, and the sun is brighter. For many, protecting the skin from intense ultraviolet (UV) rays is essential to avoid skin damage and burns. Both UV-A and UV-B rays can damage the eyes and skin, and potentially lead to vision problems and skin cancer. With the summer in full swing and UV Safety Awareness Month coming to a close, we have tips for you this week to protect yourself from the sun and help the environment!

Sunscreen and the Ocean

Sunscreen is one of the most common ways to protect oneself from UV rays, and come in two forms: chemical and mineral. Chemical sunscreens absorb UV rays and prevent your skin from doing so. One of the most popular ingredients used in chemical sunscreen is oxybenzone. Unfortunately, oxybenzone causes coral bleaching and damages coral DNA. According to the Environmental Working Group, oxybenzone and other sunscreen chemicals may also affect human health.

Fortunately, mineral sunscreens that contain titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide are reef-friendly. While chemical sunscreens absorb UV rays, mineral based sunscreens reflect the sun. Avoid chemical sunscreens and opt for mineral-based ones to prevent damage to ocean ecosystems.

Be sure to properly dispose of sunscreen cans. Check your local recycling guidelines for instructions.

Fluorocarbons and the Ozone Layer

The ozone layer is a layer in our atmosphere that absorbs UV-B rays. During the 1970s, concerns grew over the depletion of the ozone layer caused by ozone-depleting substances (ODS), such as fluorocarbons. Fluorocarbons have been banned from production and will be phased out by 2030, but some home appliances, such as refrigerators, still contain ODS. It’s very important to properly dispose of any products containing ODS. Contact your municipality for ODS disposal protocol.

Other UV Safety Tips

There are plenty of effective alternatives to chemical sunscreen that can protect you from UV radiation.

  • Use UV-blocking sunglasses.
  • Wear a wide-brim hat.
  • Wear light-colored long shirts and pants made from natural fibers and/or organic cotton.
  • Avoid sun exposure during peak hours (10 AM–2 PM).
  • Check the UV index online before going out.
  • There are tutorials online to make your own sunscreen, but be sure to not use nano-particle zinc or titanium oxide to prevent environmental harm.

We hope you are enjoying your summer! Use these tips to have fun in the sun while protecting yourself and our environment.

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