Shade Structures Help in the Fight Against Skin Cancer

Did you know that skin cancer rates have doubled over the last 20 years? Skin cancer is now the most common form of cancer in the United States, with the primary cause being UV radiation from the sun. Check out the following blog excerpts to learn more, or view the full article here.

“The American Academy of Dermatology recommends shade seeking as the first line of defense—a practice that protects the skin from UV exposure while still allowing for beneficial vitamin D production. Shade is also desirable from a comfort perspective and can encourage children and adults to spend time outdoors, which is beneficial for physical and mental health. But not all shade, whether natural (the canopy of a tree) or manufactured, is created equal. One research study. “Shade as an Environmental Design Tool for Skin Cancer Prevention,” published in the American Journal of Public Health, reports that the sun-protectant effectiveness of a given structure can vary depending on several criteria, including material, size, shape and position.” (source)

“Designing a structure for optimum protection begins by analyzing the angle of the sun. “That’s the most important consideration,” says Patrick Howe, owner of San Marcos, Calif. based Shazeebo. “It affects every part of the shade canopy design including height, size, and shape. Most designers use a phone app, like Sunseeker, to figure out how much sun a site will get and then go from there.”

Material choice and color are other important criteria that affect the level of UV protection conferred by a given shade structure. Tightly woven fabrics in dark colors will offer the most protection but there are drawbacks such as breathability and design flexibility.  “When you’re using tightly woven, waterproof fabrics, you need to have a certain pitch so they don’t hold water and not all spaces will accommodate that,” says Rushing, adding that those fabrics don’t always permit airflow that can make a space more comfortable.” (source)

“There’s no question that skin cancer is a serious problem in the United States—almost 20 people die from melanoma every day. Fortunately, it is also one of the most preventable. Increased awareness and protection from UV light from the sun via well-designed shade, sunscreen, and protective clothing can help curb the rate and allow people to enjoy the pleasures and benefits of spending time outdoors. And the shade industry is well poised to be a trusted partner in this effort.” (source)