If you thought that tinted windows were for gangster rappers and lowriders, think again. A 69-year old trucker has been diagnosed with “unilateral dermatoheliosis,” or one-sided photo aging for those of us without MD’s in dermatology. The unnamed man contracted the condition after driving a delivery truck for 28 years.
Looking at the picture, you can plainly see how one side of his face—the right side, facing inward to the cabin—has aged naturally. The alarming aspect of the photo is the man’s wrinkled, sagging, leathery left side—the side exposed to harmful UV rays for 28 consecutive years.
According to the New England Journal of Medicine, the man was told to use “sun protection and topical retinoids” and to periodically “monitor for skin cancer.”
Although this is an extreme example—and a lucky one, considering that the man does not, as of now, have skin cancer—this does have some automotive connotations. Of course, the Clean Air Act Amendment of 1970 enabled the Environmental Protection Agency to enforce tailpipe emissions standards. That led to an important healing of the ozone layer. Secondly, most of us are aware of harmful UV radiation and the need for protection, whether it comes from layering, hats, sunscreen, or sunglasses. But how many of us have stopped to consider the effect UV rays have on us while driving?
Window film is a very simple concept. Sure, many of today’s automobiles come from the factory with lightly tinted glass. It looks cool. It provides some amount of privacy. And it can even keep a vehicle’s interior cooler than untinted glass. But depending on the type of window film, it can also act as a barrier to harmful UVA and UVB radiation, so says the American Cancer Society. Which is why some auto detailers are jumping on the protection bandwagon.
Though it is difficult to measure scientifically since conditions vary so greatly, getting your windows tinted seems like sound advice—especially if you live in the southern and western states where the heat is worst. If it’s something you’re considering, the ACS recommends following an approach similar to sunglasses—the film should block 99-percent of UV rays and meet ANSI UV requirements, NOT the cosmetic requirements, which only block 70-percent of harmful rays.