ABILENE, Texas - A study by the National Cancer Institute shows that the Big Country receives some of the most UV radiation in the country.
Out of the 3,109 counties included in the study, all of our Big Country counties fall in the top 200. They pulled data from the National Solar Radiation Database over the past 30 years to complete the study.
Those high rankings for our area can be closely attributed to the varying elevations across the Big Country.
There are many forms of radiation, but UV-A and UV-B rays are the ones that can cause the most harm. UV-A rays penetrate deep into the skin and are found in tanning beds. UV-B rays do not go as deep, but both forms of radiation are known to cause skin cancer.
Rays are highest during the day when the sun is at its highest position in the sky- between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.
"These are the best times to wear sunscreen and wear your hats in particular to protect yourself from the sun," said Dr. Paras Ramolia, a board certified dermatologist.
There are two different sunscreens that can be used: physical and chemical blocking sunscreen. Physical sunscreen is preferred by Ramolia because it contains metals like zinc and titanium, which work to reflect light. Chemical blocking sunscreens are made of synthetic chemicals and have been known to cause allergic reactions.
You can cover your skin with more than just sunblock. Hats, long sleeves, and pants are very effective in preventing exposure.
Check your skin often for any type of bleeding, painful areas or dark, irregular lesions.
Eye care is another area that needs to be protected.
Ultraviolet light can cause cataracts, blindness, and burns to the eye. For protection, optometrist Dr. Russell Dressen, said to "make sure your sunshades and glasses and all are UV protected at least 80 percent."
If you are unsure if your glasses/sunglasses are UV protected, you can ask your eye doctor. You can also have a UV coat put on any pair of lenses.
UV Exposure ranking by county (out of 3,109 total participating counties)
Tom Green 109
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