Warning All Pilots: Stock Up on Sunscreen

A new study has pilots all over the world rethinking their approaches to skin care, and sunscreen companies realizing an entirely new market. According the scientists at the University of of California, San Francisco, a one hour flight could cause UV-A radiation comparable to that of a tanning bed session.

The research states that airplane windshields are often made of polycarbonate plastic or multilayer composite glass and do not completely block the sun’s harmful rays. The authors of the study believe that this UV-A transmission could be a factor in a recently reported increased incidence of melanoma in pilots and cabin crew. Being so, they recommend sunscreen and periodical skin checks for all in these careers.

Study Details

The research team spent time studying the radiation exposure in the cockpit during flights, then compared it to the exposure of a tanning bed. The radiation was measured in the pilot seat of a general aviation turbopop airplane through an acrylic plastic windshield both at ground level and various heights above sea level. The flights took place in San Jose, CA and Las Vegas, NV in April around midday.

They found that a pilot flying 56.6 minutes at 30,000 would experience the same amount of UV-A radiation as if he/she were in a tanning bed for 20 minutes. They suggest these levels could actually be higher if flying over thick clouds or snow, which reflect UV-A rays.

To read more about this study, visit Cosmetics Design.