I am always surprised how much UV damage we see on a weekly basis. Architectural design trends give us dramatic ‘walls of glass’ to maximize the natural light and capture beautiful views. The down side to this is that we are exposing the contents of our homes to the unwanted and harmful UV rays. Flooring, furnishings, artwork and drapery will fade and break down pre-maturely when exposed for even short periods of time. Exposure often increases during the winter months due to the low angle of the sun.
One of my clients was having her beautiful cherrywood floors refinished. The workers sanded the floor on a Friday and planned to seal and finish the floor on the following Monday. An extension cord was left stretched across the floor over the weekend. On the Monday when the extension cord was removed UV exposure over the weekend had lightened the floor so much that there was a dark line where the cord had lay. The floor had to be re-sanded before sealing. Another client was looking at replacing $25,000 worth of cork flooring due to fading after only 6 months of UV exposure.
If UV exposure does this to our homes, how could it effect our health? In short, there are three types of UV rays, UVA, UVB and UVC.
Luckily the majority of UVC rays, which are by far the most dangerous to our health, are blocked by the atmosphere. Most UVB rays pass easily through our atmosphere. UVB rays effect the top layer of our skin, cause most sunburns and are recognized as the major cause of skin cancer. UVB rays are however blocked easily by the glass in our windows and doors.
UVA rays account for 95% of the UV rays that reaches the earth’s surface. UVA rays pass easily through unprotected glass and penetrates to the second layer of the skin. UVA rays are associated with skin cancer, cause the skin to wrinkle and age pre-maturely and have been linked to many diseases of the eye. UVA rays are the rays used in in commercial sunbeds and tanning salons.
Quality window films can all but eliminate the dangers of UV exposure if correctly applied to the inside of your windows. Films that are specially designed for UV control can very little to no visual impact to the glass while providing 99% protection from UV exposure. Most solar control films reduce heat while reducing UV penetration by 99%.
We all know the health implications of not applying sunscreen to our skin when outdoors enjoying the sun. To avoid exposure while indoors, maybe we should be thinking of UV control window film as applying sunscreen to our homes.