How many hours do you think you spend in your car a week four, maybe five hours? Well, the average American spends about 9 hours a week in the car. Those hours of sun exposure pose a major health risk to everyone in the vehicle. Even if someone is exposed for only half of that time, there are many cosmetic and health issues that WILL show up over time.
Something I would like to point out is that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration requires every vehicle in the united states to have a type of glass called Laminated glass to be installed on the windshield in the case of a car accident because of its durability. When it is impacted, instead of turning into sharp shards of glass, it stays intact by bending and just acquiring cracks. It is composed of two pieces of glass adhered together with a Polyvynylbutral layer in the middle. That PVB layer makes laminated glass the way it is; it creates a quieter atmosphere in the car, a safer place to be in case of a crash because it does not allow ejection, and it protects from Ultraviolet radiation.
Now, that glass is mandated only for the windshield, all the other windows have tempered glass installed which gives relatively no ultraviolet protection. This is where the sun exposure happens. Tempered glass protects against 60% of UVB and 0% of UVA. Laminated glass protects against 99.9% of UVA and UVB rays.
So what does this mean in real life to make it worth bringing up? Isn’t blocking 60% of just UVB rays enough? Let's first analyze the difference between the two types of rays.
UVB rays cause tanning, sunburns, and squamous cell carcinoma. They have the highest frequency of all of the UV rays which if you remember from chemistry class means that it has a hard time traveling a long distance because of their tight wavelengths which is why it only accounts for 10% of solar radiation. By the time it reaches the elevation that we are at, it can only penetrate the Epidermis. On the other hand, UVA rays account for 90% of solar radiation and cause basal cell carcinoma and collagen depletion which create wrinkles and cellulite on the legs, arms, and stomach. Both of these wavelengths cause 95% of skin aging, 95, and the other 5% is due to sleeping on the face, exaggerated facial expressions, and dryness. And both of these rays cause 100% of skin cancer, and they are both accountable for the most aggressive skin cancer, melanoma.
That being said if tempered glass only covers 60% of UVB rays, there is by no means any substantial protection from UV radiation.
Still not convinced?
Let's look at these three examples. This truck driver, Bill McElligott suffered damage from mostly UVA rays for the 28 years he drove a truck. And this was the result: eradication of collagen, more dark spots, visible blood vessels, and the creation of blepharoptosis, or sagging eyelids which will eventually need surgical correction because it will start to obstruct his vision.
Exhibit b is a lady that worked at an office for just 13 years. She sat in the same spot near a window, not in direct sunlight while she worked there. She has roughly the same issues but with the addition of two verrucae Vulgaris, or warts. She was exposed to mostly UVA rays because she was in more indirect sunlight. So while she was indoors, the UVA radiation activated the expression of matrix metalloproteinases in the skin which degrades collagen, and elastin, and suppresses the immune system.
My last example is a study focused on long-term exposure and it is of twin sisters. So the lady on the right had about 10 more hours of UV exposure per week than the twin on the left. The twin on the right appreciated significant photoaging.
The significance of these things is that UVA does not have the burning effect that UVB has that deters people from outside. Therefore people think that it is ok to be outside with no sunscreen just because they are not at the beach, in direct sun, it's the evening or early morning, or not getting burned. Those people I just mentioned do not wear sunscreen daily which is 90% of Americans. The 10% that do use SPF every day do still have a chance of under-applying SPF or missing areas of the neck, ears, face, and body.
Going back to the laminated glass, mandating the installation of laminated glass in all the windows of a vehicle will greatly reduce the risk of all the complications that Ultraviolet exposure brings.
In the United States, 74% of malignant melanoma was on the left side of people. HMMMM I wonder why, maybe because people are getting unnecessary exposure throughout the day while they are in the car.
An easy solution would be to mandate laminated glass for all glass in a vehicle. Car manufacturers already have the ability to make the material, and the cost is not as much of a factor as it used to be. The laminated glass used to cost four times as much as tempered glass. But now the simplified manufacturing process makes its price pretty comparable to tempered glass which is why it is slightly more common to find some vehicles with all laminated glass construction. Doing this would only add about $1,000 to the initial cost of the car. This amount of money is offset by the first-purchaser depreciation of the car that more than likely does not mind the upcharge that would probably go unnoticed.
Requiring features is not new to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association. In 2016 they required all vehicles to have a backup camera, all electronically operated doors have to have a mechanical option in case the battery goes dead, the hazard light button has to be a physical button and not be on the touch screen, and hundreds more. Reflecting on these mandated features, they are all preventative measures to their respective issues. So, since the cost is not an issue and the general public simply cannot apply sun protection correctly, why not help prevent the most common and most preventable cancer--Skin Carcinoma.