There are an endless number of articles online that warn us of the dangers of prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Experts have provided study after study and a mountain of empirical evidence that UV rays can cause cancer, premature aging, damage your eyes, and even harm your immune system. Recently the New England Journal of Medicine published an article discussing the dangers of UV exposure that included some very dramatic images of a 69-year-old man who had the left side of his face exposed to UV rays daily during his 28 year career as a delivery truck driver. While most of us believe we are safe inside our vehicles, untinted car windows block only a small fraction of these harmful UV rays.
UVA and UVB – Whats the Difference?
There are several different types of UV radiation that make up the electromagnetic spectrum of ultraviolet light. The two we often hear about these days are UVA and UVB. While prolonged, unprotected exposure to either type of UV radiation can cause serious damage, each has its own unique properties and dangers.
UVA rays are long waves that pass through most automotive glass and even light clothing easily. Although UVA rays penetrate the skin deeper than UVB, they are much less likely to cause sunburns than UVB rays. As a result, most people are unaware they are being exposed to UVA rays. When the skin is exposed to UVA rays the collagen within the skin breaks down, resulting in sagging skin, wrinkled skin, sunspots and premature aging.
UVB rays, in comparison, are a medium wave, which dont pass through glass as easily as UVA rays. UVB rays only penetrate the first few layers of skin, but the damage they can cause in those layers is significant. Not only do UVB rays cause sunburns, they can also damage your DNA, which ultimately can lead to cancer. Due to the fact that only a fraction of UVB rays pass through standard automotive glass, most people dont sunburn inside their car and therefore assume they are protected from all UV rays.
How to Protect Yourself
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention less than one third of Americans use sunscreen on a regular basis. It is estimated that even fewer are using sunscreen every time they drive their vehicles. One of the best ways a motorist can ensure they and their families are protected when driving is by protecting yourself by having UV blocking window tint installed on their vehicle windows.
Over the years there have been a number of significant breakthroughs in window tint film that have resulted in window tints that can block as much as 99.9% of UV rays. Many of these window tints are able to reflect heat and block the infrared (IR) rays that cause vehicle interiors to get hot. Best of all, most of these window tints are available in a wide variety of shades, from almost complete transparent to extremely dark, to cater to each persons individual taste.
For the absolute best UV protection it is recommended that only a qualified professional install your window tint. However if you insist on doing it yourself, be sure to know the window tint laws for vehicles in your state as well as any you regularly travel to, otherwise you may be facing an expensive traffic ticket.