A sunscreen company has teamed up with the nation’s leading group of dermatologists to install shade shelters in playgrounds and parks around the country. Murad, a skincare company that sells an array of sunscreen products, is contributing $125,000 to the American Academy of Dermatology for a program called Shade America, which the groups announced Tuesday.
The first protective canopy will be installed this month at Lafayette Park in Los Angeles. Murad says these permanent installations will block harmful ultraviolet rays, prevent 100 percent of burns that children suffer while playing outside and protect against more than 90 percent of skin cancers. The project’s stated goal is to provide shade to 1 million children over five years. Future screens will go up at parks in Scottsdale, Arizona; Seattle; Dallas; Chicago; Miami; and New York City.
The Skin Cancer Foundations says that indirect levels of UV rays can still be high underneath shade structures, which vary widely in the amount of protection they provide. An evaluation of 29 shade structures at elementary schools in New Zealand showed that only six offered a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15, which is the minimum level of protection -- partly because the sun is not directly overhead for much of the day. Larger structures with walls or extensions, or those that are constructed near trees to stop rays from penetrating the sides, seem to be most effective.
Murad says the company's donation to the dermatology group is being funded through sales of a three-piece sunscreen set branded as the "Shade America Sun Safety Set" which sells for $68 on the company's website. In addition to donating money to build shade structures, the sunscreen company says it will also lead an outreach program to teach kids how to protect themselves from the sun and check their skin for spots that may be cancerous.
One in five Americans will suffer in their lifetime from skin cancer, the most common form of cancer in the country with more than a million new cases diagnosed each year. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend applying sunscreen with SPF of 15 or higher every two hours, even on cloudy or cool days. Just 15 minutes of exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays can cause skin damage. But especially in the early days of summer, it’s easy to forget to rub it on before rushing out, so the agency says sources of shade can provide an additional layer of protection.