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Airplane Windshields Don't Block UV-A Radiation

One-hour flight equaled the UV ray exposure of a 20-minute tanning bed session

THURSDAY, Dec. 18, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Airline pilots get as much exposure to ultraviolet A (UV-A) rays in an hour-long flight as they would during 20 minutes in a tanning bed, according to new research published online Dec. 17 in JAMA Dermatology.

Martina Sanlorenzo, M.D., from the University of California in San Francisco, and colleagues measured the amount of UV-A radiation in the pilot seat at ground level and at various altitudes during flight. The exposure was measured in San Jose, Calif., and in Las Vegas at about midday in April.

Pilots flying for about 57 minutes at 30,000 feet got the same amount of UV-A radiation as they would have from a 20-minute tanning bed session, the researchers found. UV-A exposure could be even higher when pilots fly over thick clouds or snowy ground, which can reflect UV radiation.

Based on the findings, "we strongly recommend the use of sunscreens and periodical skin checks for pilots and cabin crew," the authors write.

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