JARS v64n3 - Tips for Beginners: UV Protection

Tips for Beginners: UV Protection
John Barbour
Papa'Aloa, Hawai'i

Reprinted from the April 2010 Viva Vireya, newsletter of the Hawai'i Chapter
John Barbour

It's the gardening season - when is it not (here in Hawai'i) - which means our chapter members will be out diligently pulling weeds and tending their vireyas. It also means that we shall all be exposing ourselves to the sun's deadly rays - even on cloudy days. Yes, we may wear sunscreen and protective clothing. but just how much protection are we getting? Sunscreen lotions are now available with as much as a 100 SPF (Sun Protection Factor) or UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) and come with UVA and UVB protection. Be sure to check your sunglasses too. Many do not give UVB protection!

Now, to that protective clothing. Hats, shirts, blouses as well as pants are also available - mostly on line - which are treated to provide extra protection against harmful ultraviolet rays. It's not exactly inexpensive apparel, but well worth it if it wards off chances of developing skin cancers. Good news, however! RIT, you know, the fabric dye manufacturer, now has a product on the market called SUN GUARD which, for the meager price of around $US 2–3.00 allows you to convert any and all of your natural fibre (cotton, wool, etc) clothes to sun-protective garb with a 30 UPF rating. Though it's not a UBF 50, it sure beats the five to seven UPF your untreated clothing is currently providing you. It's easy to use - simply toss a packet into your washing machine when you're doing your next laundry (it does require HOT water). The resultant protection will last through multiple washings (ads claim up to 20) before needing to be repeated. This product is certified by the Skin Cancer Foundation and claims to block more than 96% of the sun's harmful rays from reaching your skin.

Just a thought - you might be tempted to use that spent laundry water on your vireyas but only do so on your Hilo Tan!

For the epiphyte neophyte: R. 'Hilo Tan' ( R. herzogii x R. aurigeranum ) is the name of an unregistered vireya that may be found in many of our club members' gardens. Double entendre intended!