As you know, our old (4.5 billion years) Sun is incredibly powerful. Actually, without Sun, there would be no life plants, no energy, no life on Earth! So, we are pretty dependent on that big (radius: 432,500 miles/ 696,000 km) yellow thing up there.
But like everything, too much of a thing can be bad for you. (Which you may know if you have ever experienced a sunburn.) What is damaging for your skin in sunrays is the ultra violet radiation.
Scientist talk about 3 different types or lengths of ultra violet radiation - the shorter the more dangerous. The longest (UV-A) causes sunburn, the shorter (UV-B) can cause skin cancer and the shortest (UV-AA) can be used to sterilize stuff because it kills bacteria and viruses!
Of course, ultraviolet radiation is good for something; a large portion of the vitamin D that humans and animals need for good health is produced when the human's or animal's skin is irradiated by ultraviolet rays.
So what is ozone? Ozone is a naturally occurring gas that is found in two layers of the atmosphere. It is a pale blue, relatively unstable molecule. In Greek, the word ozone means "to smell," and as the name suggests, it has a strong odor which you may have smelled during electrical storms or if some electrical device like your toaster got fried!
In the layer surrounding the Earth’s surface, (the troposphere) ground-level or "bad" ozone is an air pollutant that is a major factor of urban smog.
Check out the Ozone over Your House.
The troposphere extends up to the stratosphere, which is where "good" ozone protects life on Earth by absorbing some of the sun’s UV rays. Stratospheric ozone is most concentrated between 6 to 30 miles above the Earth’s surface.
Though ozone is pretty tough, it does have some enemies such as methyl bromide (used in pesticides), halons (used in fire extinguishers) and methyl chloroform (used in industrial processes). Unfortunately, as you can see, we humans release a larger number of these into the air which then depletes the ozone layer that protects us against the damaging UV rays from the Sun.
To protect yourself REMEMBER:
Do Not Stay Out to Long in the Midday Sun. The Sun's rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. - make sure to stay in the shade as much as possible during these hours.
Look for Shade. Go undercover... Remember the shadow rule: "Watch Your Shadow - No Shadow, Seek Shade!"
ALWAYS Use Sunscreen. Use at least "Sun Protection Factor 15", use it a lot (put new on every 2 hours when "spending time" in the sun). And remember that NO sunscreen is really waterproof... because you usually rub it off when you towel off!
Put on a Hat. Notice how your eyes, ears, face and back of the neck are hard to protect and always get red first!? A hat solves that problem.
Cover Up. Wearing clothing is the best way to protect your skin !
Wear GOOD Sunglasses. They must block 99-100% of UV radiation or else they may do more damage than good! If you do not wear them, it can lead to cataracts and other eye damage.
Avoid Sunlamps and Tanning Parlors. Artifcial UV light is just as bad (or worse) for you.
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