How does ozone depletion impact human health? This is a question that continues to be posed with increasing frequency as the climate change debate rages on. It is a known fact that continuous overexposure to ultraviolet radiation can lead to a number of health issues including skin cancer.
How Does Ozone Depletion Impact Human Health?
Basically, ozone depletion refers to the gradual thinning of the ozone layer, which is the natural filter that absorbs most of the burning UV rays coming from the sun. With the gradual depletion of this filter, comes an increase in the intensity of UV rays hitting the earth’s surface.
UV rays have the capacity to disrupt important biological processes and also cause damage to various materials. Of course, exposure to UV is nothing new to humans. However, in recent decades, environmental degradation has led to increased ozone depletion, which in turn has compounded the problems associated with UV exposure as mentioned by numerous organizations such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and more.
1. Weakening of the Immune System
Studies have shown that UV radiation has the capacity to suppress the proper functioning of the immune system in humans as well as the natural defenses of the skin when it enters the body. No matter what your skin color is, you are vulnerable to the effects of UV overexposure, which include poor response to immunizations and negative reactions to various medications.
2. Skin Cancer
Although the risk of skin cancer is higher for fair-skinned and fair-haired people, it is important to note that exposure to UV radiation increases the risk for virtually all skin types. There are three major types of skin cancer; malignant melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma. In most cases, these cancers can be easily removed through surgery. Although melanoma is quite serious, it is also the least common type of skin cancer.
3. Eye Problems
UV radiation can cause damage to various parts of your eyes, including the cornea, the lens and the conjunctiva which is the membrane that covers the eye. In those parts of the world where UV exposure levels are very high, “slow blindness” is not uncommon. If unchecked, slow blindness can lead to irreversible damage to the eye over time.
How Do I Avoid UV Overexposure?
Since it is a foregone conclusion that ozone depletion impacts human health, it is important that you take the necessary steps to limit the impact of UV exposure.
Here are some steps you can take:
1. Avoid Overexposure to the Sun
Staying outside for extended periods in the hot sun exposes you to very strong UV rays. If you are going to avoid these health risks, this is something you should try to avoid.
2. Apply Sunscreen Protection on Hot Sunny Days
Although sunscreen will not give you 100% UV protection, it does make a big difference in terms of how much your skin is exposed to UV rays.
3. Wear Quality Sunglasses
Sunglasses that have UV coating can protect your eyes from the effects of UV exposure. If you can get photochromic lenses, that would also be a good thing.
So, how does ozone depletion impact human health? The impact of ozone depletion on human health cannot be overstated. With the number of health problems that can be linked to continuous UV exposure, it is important that the necessary preventive measures are taken. Being well informed on all matters to do with ozone depletion definitely helps in this regard.