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I and several of my glider pilot friends are developing skin cancers. I am looking for information about the risk. Canopy tints or polymer types that provide protection would be important to know.

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  • $\begingroup$ Have you looked at appropriate types of skin cream/broad spectrum sun block's? $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Jan 24, 2018 at 22:05
  • $\begingroup$ Most fabrics will only block UVB rays allowing the UVA rays through which penetrate deeper into the skin and cause more genetic damage. As far as color, it doesn't matter; if a fabric is capable of blocking UVA and UVB rays it will block the same amount regardless of the tint. The protection depends mostly on the type of material, density of the weave, and UV coatings. It's cheaper to buy something like Ray Bloc and apply to an already-owned canopy than to buy a brand new canopy. In any event, the highest rated fabric is UPF 50+ which means for every 50 UV rays, only 1 makes it through. $\endgroup$
    – Noah Wood
    Jan 25, 2018 at 1:34

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I assume that you mean polycarbonate by "PC". Polycarbonate plastics block nearly all UV radiation. Here is a typical transmission spectrum:

enter image description here

UV is the light below 400nm. As you can see, the curve shows 0% transmission in that range. In general, the risk of damage by radiation is greatly reduced by elimination of sub-400nm wavelengths.

Nevertheless, high energy visible light from 400-500nm should not be ignored and long exposure to such light can be damaging, especially to the eyes and is implicated in macular degeneration, and I know sailplane pilots with high hours who have suffered macular degeneration.

Also, if you are flying, you know that most pilots spend many hours out on the field waiting to launch or doing other chores, so there is plenty of time when you are not protected by a canopy at all.

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