Written by Gene Caballero on October 11, 2016
Why mowing your lawn could be killing you.
Lawn mowing poses hidden dangers; According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 80,000 people are taken to the ER every year due to lawn mower injuries. That’s because lawn mowers, weed-eaters, hedge clippers, and mulchers needed to maintain the lawn are some of the most dangerous devices in the American household. Additionally, flammable gas, harmful fumes, sharp blades moving at over 200 mph, and careless behavior are all determinates in these injuries. However, there may be an even more dangerous, unexpected, silent killer when performing this seemingly routine task.
So what about the cancer that kills 10,000 people a year? According to the American Cancer Society, Melanoma, a cancer of the skin, is caused by a combination of factors but mostly by overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. Even minor exposures such as that linked to mowing the lawn puts the skin at risk of this disease.
One may ask, “My lawn only takes 30 minutes to mow; do I still need to wear sunscreen?” The answer to that question is a resounding, “Yes!” The sun gives the body needed Vitamin D used to fight depression, help regulate calcium and phosphorous, and facilitate normal immune system function. However, too much of it can be harmful. Being in the sun without sunscreen for over 20 minutes can start damaging cells’ DNA.
What type of sunscreen and how much should I use?
Sunscreen choice can be confusing. SPF’s are used to describe the theoretical time it would take to get burned while out in the sun. For example, an SPF15 means one can be in the sun 15 times longer when applied and not have damaging effects on the skin. The best sunscreen is the one that will actually get used and applied regularly. Below are some tips for making sure protection is at its highest.
Wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher-Fair skin folks or individuals with light hair are more prone to UV rays and should always use sunscreen with higher SPF’s.
Reapply Often-If the property takes longer than two hours to mow, reapply sunscreen. Hourly reapplication would be the best bet, especially if heavy perspiration occurs.
Lather the entire body-Its critical to apply sunscreen to the areas of the body that are easily forgettable like the ears, eyelids, lips, neck, nose, hands, and top of the head. At least an ounce of the product should be used when applying sunscreen, making sure to apply a thick coat.
What if there’s no sunscreen available?
Consider Time of Day-The sun is most potent from 10:00am to 4:00pm. This 6 hour time-frame is also the hottest part of the day and when the suns’ rays are at the highest UV levels. There are varying opinions on when to mow but there is a perfect timeframe if one is flexible. Lawn mowing in Franklin, Tennessee or cutting grass in Decatur, Georgia both have optimal mowing times. Those times are either mid morning or late afternoon.
Cover the skin-Even though it may seem that this is a no-brainer, wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants will not only protect one from UV rays but will keep one cooler. This is because the sun is not pounding directly on the skin. Dark, Lightweight, loose-fitting clothing with tightly woven fabrics work best for keeping cool and safe. This is especially crucial for lawn care services in Tampa, Florida.
Don’t forget the face-To be fully effective, a hat with at least a 2- to 3-inch brim is ideal. This will protect the areas most often exposed to the intense sun such as ears, eyes, forehead, nose, neck, and scalp. A dark-colored, non-reflective underside to the brim will help protect the UV rays from hitting the face from reflective surfaces such as water.
Don’t forget the eyes-The America Academy of Ophthalmology reports that too much direct exposure to UV light raises the risk of eye diseases, including cataract and ocular melanoma. Sunglasses that fully cover the eyes and do not allow sunlight in should be worn. Polarized lenses work best at eliminating glare and reducing the harmful effects of UV light.
The point here is to debunk the lawn care myth about skin protection not being necessary and eliminate one of its hidden dangers. Melanoma is the most common form of cancer in the United States with more new cases being diagnosed each year than breast, prostate, lung, and colon cancer combined. It is the easiest to protect against. Whether through using sunscreen or following easy steps when sunscreen is not available, skin protection could save a life—even yours!
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