Experts Warn Beach Umbrellas Don’t Block Out UV Rays

If you’re one of the many people who head to the beach with plenty of sunscreen and a beach umbrella, you may still need to take extra steps to ward off harmful UV rays. According to a recent study published in the Photochemistry and Photobiology journals, beach umbrellas block out only about 70 percent of UV rays.

Even though the umbrella intercepts the direct radiation that comes from the sun, diffused radiation is able to reach the skin throughout the day and can still cause extensive skin damage.

According to Jose Antonio Martinez-Lozano, co-author of the study and coordinator of the Research Group of Solar Radiation in UV, “The umbrella intercepts the direct radiation that comes from the Sun, but part of the diffused radiation, which makes up approximately 60% of the total, reaches the sensor from the sky not covered by the umbrella.” He also states that he and his team have proven that irradiance that reaches the ground covered by an umbrella is about 34 percent of the total.

The team created a geometric model to obstruct the sky to calculate the level of irradiance received on different planes under the umbrella. The different configurations helped to simulate the effects of the sun’s rays on real people who are lying down under sunshades.

These types of studies can help scientists gain a better understanding of the development of skin cancers and the appearance of melanoma. Dermatologists recommend staying out of direct sunlight and applying sunscreen regularly in order to avoid excessive skin damage and photoageing. Excessive sun exposure can cause several different eye disorders, weaken the immune system, and also cause DNA damage.

In addition to using a beach umbrella, sun worshippers can wear a wide-brimmed hat, cover up with lightweight clothing when they are not hitting the water, and apply waterproof sunscreen frequently throughout the day to protect the skin.

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