Sun damage a concern, even indoors

WEATHER WEEK: Summer Threats » | Storm Ready Resource Guide »

(WPRI) — Longing to sit in the corner office? The one with the big window? It may not be as desirable as you think. The prime spot with a view is also a prime location for exposure to dangerous ultra-violet radiation.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rate of skin cancer in Rhode Island is about 27 per 100,000 people. What may surprise you is that this is higher than the rate in both Florida and the Carolinas.

Summer Resources: What is the UV Index & Simple Sun Safety Steps »

It’s not just the number of days you spend at the beach. Dermatologists say sun damage can occur indoors as well. It turns out most glass is no match for UV-A rays. These are the rays which are responsible for skin aging and wrinkling. UV-A rays can contribute to skin cancer development and may even initiate it. At least 50% of UV-A will penetrate glass—whether at home, in the office or driving your car.

Dr. Sandy Chai of Rhode Island Hospital says dermatologists see this sort of skin damage frequently.

“People who work in office buildings, and they have a window on one side of their face, and after twenty years of reporting to the same office you can see they have a lot more wrinkles, a lot more brown spots on one side of their face than the other,” said Dr. Chai, who added even your commute to and from work warrants protection from the sun. “We actually diagnose more skin cancers on the left side of Americans than we do in other countries where they drive on the other side of the road.

Other factors that determine your UV exposure include time of day, the season, your elevation and the amount of cloud cover.

Dr. Chai recommends putting your sunscreen right next to your toothpaste as a reminder to make it a part of your daily routine.

“I recommend a broad spectrum sunscreen, and I like to ask my patients to look for two specific ingredients: titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. They’re physical sunscreens, and I prefer those to the chemical sunscreens.”

In addition to glass, UV-A rays can also penetrate clouds. That means even on an overcast day you’re being exposed to dangerous ultraviolet radiation.

MORE RESOURCES: Beach & Bay Forecast » | UV Index Scale » | Summer Resource Guide »