Conley Averett 4/8/2008 Introduction: Testing Effectiveness of Sunscreen

Sun protection has taken many forms during human history. The Greeks used a

mixture of pumice and grease to protect themselves. In most countries, people wear clothing to protect themselves from the sun. It was not until Coco Chanel came back to Paris with a light tan in the 20th century that people began to tan themselves as a fashion statement. Tanning continued to be popular through the 1960ʼs. But the incidence of skin cancer also began to rise dramatically. Scientists began to study the effects of the sunʼs rays and studied the links to skin cancer. Today we are constantly told to use sunscreen to prevent skin cancer, but younger people want to look tanned and healthy. Tanning beds and salons are another source of harmful rays. There are three types of UV rays. UVA

(Ultraviolet A) penetrate deep into the skin causing wrinkles and sagging in the skin, therefore contributing to skin cancer. UVA rays are persistent year round, even in the winter season, and can pass through windows and other glass protections, affecting the skin. UVA rays also exist on cloudy days, from sunrise to sunset. UVB (Ultraviolet B) rays burn skin not protected by sunscreen by penetrating the epidermis and remains at the epidermal level. They are also the primary cause of skin cancer as


well as causing severe burns and blisters on the skin. UVC (Ultraviolet C) rays are normally blocked by the ozone layer, but with the ozone layer thinning, they are becoming more harmful to plant and animal life. These three types of Ultraviolet rays are harmful to the skin, particularly UVA and UVB rays.

As a result of excessive unprotected exposure to

Ultraviolet rays, skin cancer comes in three main forms: Basal Cell Carcinoma is the predominant form of skin cancer. It is most common in men who frequently spend time outdoors and becomes evident in lesions on the head and neck. It does not spread throughout the body, but it can infect bones and nerves that surround the invaded area. Squamous cell carcinomas are the second most common form of skin cancer. People who tan or sunburn easily are most affected by it. It particuarlly affects the face, neck, bald head, hands, arms, shoulders, and back. The rims of the ear and lower lip are also heavily affected by this cancer. Malignant Melanoma is the most severe form of skin cancer, yet the rarest of them all. It affects the cells that produce melanin and usually results from brief, yet intense periods of UV ray exposure as well as a history of sunburn during oneʼs childhood or infancy. If not found and treated in the beginning stages, it is highly fatal and serves as the cause of many skin cancer related deaths.


Symptoms of skin cancer become apparent in a variety of ways on our skin and

in our bodies. Changes in the size of a mole or skin growth indicate the arrival of skin cancer, particuarlly melanoma. Discolored patches of skin on the chest or back (usually a brown, blue, and/or black area) indicate basal cell carcinoma as well as red spots with indented centers. Squamous cell carcinoma is usually noted by a red bump that becomes increasing in size over a period of time and tends to be very firm to the touch. These symptoms always lead to skin cancer and should be at the attention of a doctor immediately. There are many forms of treatment for skin cancer. Conventional medicinal

treatments for basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are most recommended for their safety and rarely cause side effects. Tumors that result from these cancers are removed with an electric current, frozen with liquid nitrogen, or by the use of low dose radiation. A chemo therapeutic ointment is also an option for treatment when used consistently for a period of five weeks or more. If a tumor is larger, it is removed surgically. In the event of basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma spreading, the tumors are removed surgically and chemotherapy is used for treatment of the cancer. Studies have shown that exposure to retinoic acid (a derivative of vitamin A) and the disease fighting protein interferon have helped in inhibiting cancer recurrence in post operation patients. Melanoma tumors are always removed surgically. This is usually before the cancer spreads in order to prevent infection in other organs and areas subject to infection. Radiation nor chemotherapy are not useful in the treatment of melanoma, however slows the infection and alleviates symptoms.


Preventing skin cancer is simple and important, especially if one is susceptible to

skin cancer. Using a sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher is important for all outdoor activity. Now, physicians recommend at least an SPF 30 for optimum protection from UV rays. Wearing proper clothing outside is also very important. Hats, long sleeve shirts, and trousers are all items one can incorporate into their wardrobe to prevent excessive sun exposure. A B Vitamin supplement is also recommended by doctors because it contains the compound PABA, an active ingredient in sunscreen. Late morning and early afternoon sun rays are the most harmful, so it is recommended that one avoids sun exposure in those times of day. These precautions are easily adapted into oneʼs lifestyle and are worth the effort in preventing skin cancer. Sunscreen is the most important part of preventing skin cancer and excessive

UV exposure. Sunscreen is a combination of organic and inorganic ingredients. The two most prominent ingredients in sunscreen, zinc oxide or titanium oxide reflect and scatter the UV radiation from the sun. Octyl methoxycinnamate or oxy benzone absorbs UV radiation and protects the skin from both UVA and UVB radiation. When purchasing sunscreen, one usually evaluates the SPF (sun protection factor). The higher amount of SPF, the lower risk of absorbing UVA or UVB rays into the skin. SPF works by multiplying the time it takes to burn unprotected skin by the number of SPF of the sunscreen. If it takes one person 15 minutes to burn unprotected, they will burn after 225 minutes if using an SPF 15 sunscreen. However, most scientists and doctors recommend reapplying one ounce of sunscreen every two hours regardless of the SPF, and always after swimming and or drying off with a towel. Sunscreens should always be applied thirty minutes before serious sun exposure.


Ultraviolet radiation is similar to other various types of radiation, such as those

found in household microwaves, and even in FM/AM radios. What distinguishes these forms of radiation are the frequencies that each operates under. Ultraviolet radiation operates under many different wavelengths. UV radiation that enters our atmosphere begins with wavelengths of 200-400 nm. However, above the atmosphere, those wavelengths are more intense and energetic as the range usually falls under 200-290 nm. When the Oxygen in the outer part of the earthʼs atmosphere absorbs the shorter wavelengths of radiation from X-rays. The oxygen in the atmosphere is then turned into the ozone that absorbs the UV rays in the 200-250 range. As these rays proceed to the earthʼs surface, 10% is between 290 and 320 nm. UV rays at this wavelength are the rays that will burn and tan human skin. The other 90% of the UV rays that reach earthʼs surface are between 320-400 nm and are the lowest energy UV.

In this experiment, the reaction of benzophenone and isopropanol will occur. The

intensity of the reaction depends on the amount of UV light. Benzopinacol is produced


by the photochemical reduction (UV light/sunlight) of 2 molecules of benzophenone. Acetone is also produced by the reduction of one molecule of isopropanol. Then, the benzopinacol ends up being the crystal formation that determines the amount of UV transmitted through the test tube.

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