As Men’s Health Month rolls by, more awareness of skin cancer is necessary as it is the most common cancer in the U.S. Truck drivers face a higher risk of skin cancer due to prolonged exposure to ultraviolet radiation. On average, truck drivers spend 300 days on the road every year navigating all kinds of road conditions. While many drivers assume they are protected when inside the cab, standard window glasses don’t shield truck occupants from all harmful UV rays.
Sunlight produces UVA, UVB, and UVC rays. UVA and UVB rays make it to earth, where they cause damage to the skin. UVA and UVB rays differ by how deeply they penetrate the skin and the strength of their energy.
UVA rays account for 95% of the sun’s radiation that reaches earth, and they penetrate the skin’s middle layer, called the dermis. On the other hand, UVB rays have more energy and affect the skin’s top layer, causing skin burning and cancer.
The typical cab window protects against UVB rays but not UVA rays. In addition to skin cancer, UVA rays cause premature wrinkling, aging, and bruising.
The Left Side Is More Vulnerable
Side windows only block 44% of UV radiation, while windshields prevent 96% of the sun’s rays from getting into the cab. Thus, the sides of the face are especially vulnerable to sagging and burning caused by UV rays.
A trucker’s left side gets more sun exposure since they drive on the right side of the road. An investigation by the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found that 74% of malignant melanoma tumors occurred on the left side of the face. Melanoma ranks among the most aggressive type of skin cancer and is common among truck drivers. Many skin cancer cases also affect the left arm, which is also exposed during driving.
Myths About UV Radiation
Sun damage myths prevent many truck drivers from taking the necessary steps to prevent skin cancer. The most prevailing myth is that sunscreen is not required on cloudy days. Other drivers believe that they don’t need sunscreen under their clothing, while others don’t understand the need for sunscreen in the winter.
However, most clothing offers little protection against ultraviolet rays. Moreover, UVB and UVA rays still reach the earth on overcast days, and sun protection is necessary even on cloudy, rainy days.
Window treatments that block UVB or UVA rays reduce the risk of skin cancer among truck drivers. Today’s automotive films are virtually transparent and block both UV light and glare. However, fleet managers should check local and federal tinting laws to ensure that the treatments don’t reduce road visibility.
What Truck Drivers Can Do
Truck drivers also need information on their skin cancer risk and how they can reduce sun exposure. Some of the prevention tips include:
- Religious Sunscreen Use
Wearing high-quality sunscreen every day protects against sun rays. Anything between 30 to 50 SPF provides adequate protection against sunburn and skin cancer. Encourage your drivers to be generous with sunscreen on the face, neck, arms, and hands before driving. Mineral-based sunscreens are great because they don’t break down as much as other types of sunscreens in the heat of a truck.
- Wear Sunglasses and UV Blocking Clothing
UV rays are also not kind to your eyes, and truck drivers should have UV-blocking glasses to protect their vision. UV blocking sun sleeves are of immense help as they shield the arms and shoulders from sun radiation.
- Get Regular Checks
Doctors can treat and cure nearly all skin cancers as long as they discover them early. So, encourage truck drivers to get checked if they notice anything unusual with their skin.
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