Ozone layer continues to shrink - UV protection more important than ever

sun protection

UV protection is becoming increasingly important. fotolia.com, NicoEINico
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O3 - or better than ozone - is a special occurrence of oxygen. If it occurs directly near the ground, it is considered a gas that irritates the mucous membranes. Ozone is simply undesirable here. In the higher layers of the atmosphere, however, ozone is one of the reasons why life on earth (at least as we know it) is possible. Ozone protects living beings - that is, fauna and flora - from the high-energy radiation that hits the earth's atmosphere from the sun. Background: The ozone absorbs parts of the UV radiation. Although it is split, it can react immediately with other oxygen atoms back to ozone. At the same time, the angular structure of the ozone molecule enhances this effect, radiating thermal energy.

The problem: Halogen compounds - which include compounds of fluorine and chlorine - intervene in this process. They react with oxygen, resulting in a deficit of oxygen - and thus reduces the amount of ozone. The result is the formation of the ozone hole on the polar ice caps. This is a phenomenon that was first observed in the 1950s. Until the findings had prevailed, it takes again until the 1970s. Meanwhile, the ozone concentration at the poles is increasing again. This is shown by a reduction in the concentration between the 60th latitude north and the 60th latitude. What consequences does this development have for sun protection?

The ozone layer protects life on earth from the full effects of UV radiation - but the protective layer becomes thinner despite countermeasures. © fotolia.com, @nt

How can UV radiation harm people?

The ozone layer protects life on earth. This statement has been repeated regularly in the past. Laypeople sometimes fail to understand how a compound that is considered dangerous near the ground has a protective effect on the atmosphere. Therefore here is a short explanation attempt.

Light is not just what the human eye can perceive. Instead, light is a collection of different light waves, each with a different spectrum. Thus, the visible light ranges from a wavelength between 380 nm (violet) to 780 nm (red). Higher wavelength light waves are infrared light and no longer visible. The same applies to shafts with low wavelengths of ultraviolet radiation (UV).

Divided into: Display

  • UVA
  • UV B
  • UV C

is a feature of UV radiation whose high energy content. In particular, the UV-C rays are noticeable in this context.

Although UV-C rays are particularly energetic, they do not penetrate so deeply into the skin. In addition, this high-energy radiation is very strongly absorbed in the atmosphere. What makes UV radiation so dangerous?

How does the UV radiation work?

For humans, there is a particular danger due to UV A and UV-B radiation. Although they do not have the high energy of the C-type. However, these two types of ultraviolet radiation penetrate the atmosphere to a much greater extent. Therefore, they are also crucial for the consequences of ultraviolet radiation.

Effect of UV-A rays : This type of radiation can penetrate tissue into the region of the dermis. Here, the radiation acts directly on the melanin in the skin, causing a change in the spatial structure. The result is a Br une, which only briefly stops and does not reach a high sun protection. However, the radiation is able to generate free radicals, which in turn increases the risk of skin cancer.

Effect of UV-B rays : This is a type of radiation that stimulates the formation of melanin in the epidermis. Its formation occurs with a time delay to the exposure it creates the well-known Br une. B radiation is responsible for the formation of vitamin D in the skin.

The damaging effect of UV rays is based on the fact that the (especially the B-type) radiation can cause a sunburn. On the other hand, it is the exposure to ultraviolet radiation that promotes the development of melanoma (black skin cancer) or basalioma and spinalioma. Being exposed to solar radiation unprotected is considered one of the risk factors for these types of tumors.

Every year, approximately 20, 000 people in Germany contract new types of skin cancer. This emerges from publications of an initiative of the Robert Koch Institute short RKI . Especially dangerous is the black skin cancer.

There are many different ways to protect yourself from the sun. fotolia.com, Prod. Num rik

Unprotected exposure to sunlight carries risks. Especially in the long term, it is beneficial to protect yourself and your offspring. True to the motto: The skin never forgets, it comes especially to children on a comprehensive sunscreen. How can this be guaranteed in practice? Unfortunately, some of the population is still unaware that it is precisely the energy-dense radiation that can not be readily shielded. How should it be done?

  • Control time in the sun : One possible option - but not necessarily the best. Due to the fact that different skin types, which are defined among other things by the FSO, can be exposed to the sun for different periods of time, misjudgements can quickly occur here. People with fair skin and rather reddish hair should generally stay in the sun for only a few minutes without protection. Rather darker skin types can stay in the sun for up to 20 minutes, in some cases even up to 30 minutes.
  • Parasols for balcony or terrace : In general, the advice is not to be exposed directly to the midday heat. So just under the umbrella or forgave an awning. However, the danger is only hidden here. The fabric of the sunshade can pass the dangerous radiation anyway. So that the place under the sunscreen does not become the case, you have to pay attention to the right material. The UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) seal shows how well the sunshade also keeps out ultraviolet radiation. The higher the UPF value, the better the material protects.
  • Sun creams and lotions : These are products of the cosmetics industry, which contain a carrier medium in which various UV filter substances are embedded. The latter can be chemical or physical (but also natural) UV filters. This group includes, for example, titanium or zinc dioxide. The effect of the products is generally indicated by the sun protection factor. This can be multiplied by the self-protection time information about how long a person can expose himself to the sun.

What to do with sunburn?

Even if all the instructions are observed and especially at lunchtime rather a quiet spot in the apartment is visited - it can always come back to a sunburn. In this situation, the right behavior is required. What's next? The severity of sunburn can be very different.

In light forms, the skin is a little red and hurts when touched. In bad cases, bubbles can form. Even nausea, vomiting or dizziness are possible. In this situation consultation with a doctor is recommended. Treatment at home can be done first with the active ingredient acetylsalicylic acid. This inhibits the development of inflammation. In a second step creams can be applied with hydrocortisone. Compresses with cottage cheese or yoghurt also have a cooling effect. It is also important to ensure a sufficient supply of liquid.

Conclusion: sun protection is becoming increasingly important

The ozone layer decreases in a wide belt. This finding has an impact on how sun worshipers enjoy the summer. The impact of ultraviolet radiation can damage the skin. Not without reason, sunburn is considered one of the risk factors for skin cancer. If you want to enjoy the sun, you have to think of the right sunscreen. A fact that can not be denied. It should be thought of several measures. An important point is wearing clothes that does not let UV light through. But also the handle to sun creams is recommended as protection. Important: In addition to the skin, the lips and (of course, especially important) the eyes must be protected from too much sun.

(The article was written in collaboration with the external author Daniel Theiss., 03.05.2018 -)