Snow reflection almost doubles damaging sun rays

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – All this sunshine might be improving your mood, but it just might be time for you to break out the sun block.

The sun’s been getting higher in the sky since late December and it’s rays are getting stronger.

With so much snow on the ground, you’ve probably noticed how bright it can be, forcing you to wear sunglasses more often.

“I should have them on, but I just didn’t think of it when I started so yes, you should have them on all the time…Off the snow it does make the glare a little bit harder to see,” said John O’Neil from Chicopee.

On a mostly cloud free day, the reflection off of the snow can almost double your exposure to ultraviolet rays.

The amount of sun that snow can reflect depends on the age of the snow. Fresh snow can reflect about 85 percent of the suns rays where the older, dirtier snow cuts that amount in half.

Baystate Medical Center cancer specialist, Dr. Wilson Mertens is concerned because of your potential to develop skin cancer or eye damage from the extra UV rays coming from all directions.

“We’re going to be surrounded by light that’s reflecting in ways that are very different from what we would experience in the summer where we have one point source, so here we have multiple reflections so there’s multiple beams coming at us,” said Dr. Mertens.

That means protecting your skin from light above and below as well as protecting your eyes from the extra UVA and UVB rays.

Even more so at higher elevations where the sun is stronger.

Too much time in the sun and reflecting snow can cause a problem called snow blindness, which is temporary or permanent blindness caused by too much light.

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