a  program that  radiates  good  ideas
                                            A Partnership Program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Commonly Asked Questions about Sun Safety

   Q  What is Don't Fry Day?
          A  The National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention has designated the Friday before
             Memorial Day (this year May 27) "Don't Fry Day" to raise awareness about sun
             safety. EPA is a major participant in the Council through its SunWise program. Many
             families view Memorial  Day weekend as the start of the summer season and begin
             spending countless hours outside, without appropriate sun protection against UV rays.
             Taking a few, easy precautions can help children and adults significantly reduce their
             chances of getting skin cancer and cataracts.

   Q  What is the desirable level of SPF to protect from overexposure to the sun?
          A  In general, it is best to look for a product that has an SPF  of at least 15. You should be
             aware that an SPF of 30 is not twice as protective as an SPF of 15; rather, when properly
             used, an SPF of 15 protects the skin from 93 percent of UVB radiation, and an SPF of 30
             provides 97 percent protection.

   Q  When and where should sunscreen be applied?
          A  Sunscreen should be applied to all exposed skin 20 minutes before going outside. If you
             forgot to put it on 20 minutes beforehand, you can still put it on when you get to your
             destination. Don't forget the ears which make up many of the more serious squamous
             cell cancers, the back which comprises about a third of all melanomas in men and 20% in
             women, and the legs that make up about 20-25% of all melanomas in women.

   Q  How much and how often does sunscreen need to be reapplied?
          A  About one ounce to cover all exposed skin (think of a shot glass filled with sunscreen).
             Reapply every two hours, even on cloudy days, and more often when swimming,
             sweating or toweling off.

   Q  At what age should a child start wearing sunscreen?
          A  The American Cancer Society recommends that sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 be
             applied to children six months and older. While children younger than six months are not
             advised to wear sunscreen, children of all ages should use hats and sun-protective
             clothing such as long-sleeved shirts and wide-brimmed hats.1 The American Academy of
1 American Cancer Society. Skin Cancer Prevention and Early Detection: How do I protect myself from UV rays? Retrieved August
6, 2010 from

               Pediatrics recommends using sunscreen on infants for small areas such as the face and
               back of hands where protection from clothing is inadequate.2
    Q  Am I still at risk for skin cancer if I have darker skin and don't easily burn?

           A   Everyone's skin and eyes can be damaged by the sun. While people with darker skin
               have a lower chance of developing skin cancer because of higher melanin content in their
               skin, they are still susceptible to skin cancer.3 Additionally, every person in every ethnic
               group is susceptible to eye damage, premature wrinkling, and weakening of the immune
    Q  Is tanning OK for your skin if you don't get burned?

           A  Any change to your natural skin color is a sign of damage. UV radiation from both tanning
              beds and the sun causes skin cancer and wrinkling - even if you don't burn! People who
              use tanning beds before age 30 increase their chances of developing melanoma by 75
              percent.  UV radiation is a proven human carcinogen, according to the U.S. Department
              of Health and Human Services and the World Health Organization.

    Q  Are there options  available to tan safely without overexposure to UV?
           A  Sunless tanners and bronzers are available commercially. They are applied to the skin
              like a cream and can provide a temporary, artificial tan. The only color additive currently
              approved by FDA for this purpose is dihydroxyacetone (DHA).

              Bronzers stain the skin temporarily, and they can generally be removed with soap and
              water. They may streak after application and can stain clothes.  Sunless tanners and
              bronzers might not contain active sunscreen ingredients. Be sure to read their labels to
              find out if they provide any or enough sun protection.

              If you choose to get a spray tan,  make sure not to inhale any of the spray.

    Q  Is sunscreen  the only way to protect my skin from too much sun?

           A  No; sunscreen is just one way to protect your skin from overexposure to UV radiation.
              One easy way to remember sun safety behaviors is: Slip, Slop, Slap  and Wrap.

           o  Slip on a shirt, preferably long-sleeved, or with built-in UV protection
           o  Slop on sunscreen generously, SPF 15 or higher
           o  Slap on a wide-brimmed hat and
           o  Wrap on  sunglasses to  protect your eyes from cataracts and other eye damage.
              You can  also seek shade between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when UV
              radiation levels are at their highest. Check the UV Index to plan your day accordingly:
2 American Academy of Pediatrics. Summer Safety Tips - Part I. Retrieved August 9, 2010 from
 American Cancer Society. Skin Cancer Prevention and Early Detection. Retrieved August 9, 2010 from

    Q  Will Sun Protection Deprive Me of Vitamin D?
           A  Most people get an adequate amount of vitamin D in their diets. If you are concerned
              about not getting enough vitamin D, consult your physician and consider taking a
              multivitamin supplement and consuming more foods and beverages fortified with vitamin
              D daily. Fortunately, people who choose to protect their skin from the sun can easily
              acquire a sufficient amount of vitamin D by mouth (from a combination of diet and vitamin
              supplements), thus providing an alternative route to maintaining a healthy vitamin D
              concentration that avoids the risk associated with sun exposure.
EPA's SunWise program is a national environmental and health education program that teaches children
and their caregivers how to be safe in the sun through the use of classroom-, school-, and community-
based components. To learn more about free SunWise resources, including a sun safety packing list, or
to download the UV Index widget or smart phone application,