Keep The Sun At Bay

According to Cynthia Greaves with the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, “On average, an SPF 2 will block about 50 percent of UVB rays, an SPF 10 about 85 percent of UVB rays, an SPF 15 about 95 percent of UVB rays and SPF 30 about 97 percent of UVB rays.” So what does the higher SPF mean? While an SPF higher than 30 does not provide any additional UV protection, it does allow you to spend a longer time in the sun without burning.

Unfortunately, as much as the bottle proclaims, there is no such thing as a truly waterproof sunscreen. Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours and more often while swimming or sweating. Also, to receive the full benefits of sunscreen, it is recommended that it be applied 15 to 20 minutes before sun exposure.

Another key item to remember is to use an ounce of sunscreen per body part. Dr. Jones adds that it is important to look for “[a] broad-spectrum sunscreen with UVA and UVB protection with an SPF between 15 and 30. One very helpful tool is to look for the Skin Cancer Foundation Seal of Approval or the AAD Seal of Recognition.”

The days of sending kids to camp without proper sun-protection are over. While most authorities agree sunscreen can prevent or at the very least help prevent skin cancer, the most effective means of prevention besides avoidance is the use of primary barriers, such as sunglasses, hats and clothing.

According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, “Sunscreens should not be the first choice for skin-cancer prevention, and should not be used as the sole agent for protection against the sun.”

Wherever summer activities take you and your participants, don’t forget the basics of sun safety.

Steve Yeskulsky, CPRP is the Director of Recreation and The Arts for the City of Hyattsville, Md. He can be reached via e-mail at


Test Your Sun-Safety Knowledge

Answer all 10 correctly and become a Sun-Safety Champion!


1. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.

A. True

B. False

2. An SPF 10 blocks about ____ percent of UVB rays.

A. 10

B. 50

C. 85

D. 95

3. Each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidences of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon.

A. True

B. False

4. A person’s risk for melanoma doubles if he or she has had:

A. One or more sunburns at any age.

B. Two or more sunburns at any age.

C. Five or more sunburns at any age.

D. Ten or more sunburns at any age.

5. Children can receive up to 80 percent of their lifetime sun exposure before they turn 18.

A. True

B. False

6. Wearing clothes instead of putting on sunscreen offers just as much if not better protection than wearing only sunscreen.

A. True

B. False

7. What percentage of skin cancers is the result of sun exposure?

A. 90 percent

B. 40 percent

C. 100 percent

D. 70 percent

8. The requirements and standards for sunscreens vary by country. Sunscreens in Australia must prevent the ability to withstand two hours of rapidly moving water, which prevents wash-off or sweat-off. U.S. standards require effectiveness in:

A. 15 minutes of standing water

B. 30 minutes of standing water

C. 3 hours of standing water

D. 6 hours of standing water

9. According to a recent study by the American Cancer Society of youth ages 11 – 18, effective sun protection is practiced by less than:

A. 50 percent

B. 66 percent

C. 33 percent

D. 10 percent

10. Damage from sun exposure to a child’s skin is not permanent, and can be treated later in life.

A. True

B. False


1. True

2. C

3. True

(From The American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2009. Atlanta: American Cancer Society. 2009.)

4. C

(Taken from Pfahlberg, A., Kolmel, K.F., Gefeller, O. “Timing of excessive ultraviolet radiation and melanoma: epidemiology does not support the existence of a critical period of high susceptibility to solar ultraviolet radiation-induced melanoma.” British Journal of Dermatology, March 2001; 144; 3:471.)

5. True

6. False

(Depending on the type of clothing, a sunscreen may offer better protection. For example, a basic white, cotton jersey knit shirt on average only has an approximate SPF value of 4.)

7. A

8. B

9. C

10. False

(According to Dr. Evelyn M. Jones of Well Springs Dermatology, most children get between 50 percent and 80 percent of their lifetime sun exposure before the age of 18. This damage is permanent, and the increased risk of skin cancer, aging of the skin and brown spots cannot be reversed.)

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