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The business of shade

Graphics | September 1, 2009 | By:

It appears that not enough of us are taking skin cancer statistics seriously. Dr. Sarah Schram, dermatology resident at the University of Minnesota, says that skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, and in the United States alone there will be more than one million new cases this year. The Skin Cancer Foundation reports that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.

The majority of these cases—90 percent—are associated with exposure to UV rays from the sun. Just one blistering sunburn in childhood more than doubles a person’s chances of developing melanoma later in life. A recent American Cancer Society survey says that only 20 percent of adolescents reported seeking shade always or often during the summer months. Adults are twice as likely to seek shade, but that’s still less than half.

“Exposure to ultraviolet light results in DNA damage that, if not repaired, may eventually lead to skin cancer,” Schram says. “Protection from ultraviolet light is very important to reduce the risk of skin cancer.” This includes wearing protective clothing, using sunscreen of at least SPF 15 and seeking shade, especially during the hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

This information is a powerful argument for the simplest form of skin cancer prevention: shade. There is increasing pressure for more public places to offer shade. As we know, businesses use canopies and awnings to identify their location and to advertise, but as pressure mounts for more businesses, schools, playgrounds, parks and other public spaces to provide shade, opportunities for fabricators and printers grow, too.

Why wouldn’t a school want its mascot proudly displayed on an entrance canopy, where students wait for buses, or on a shade sail over the bleachers at a ball park? Wouldn’t a park or playground benefit from colorful graphics printed on a shade structure that appeal to children, or wayfinding information printed on a picnic canopy?

Providing shade is no longer optional. If the organization, school or business is going to incur the expense of a shade structure—an all but essential element for an outdoor space in warmer climates—it makes sense to invest a bit more in graphics and get a multi-functioning improvement. Printers who are ready to help clients make the most of their shade solution with appropriate graphics can be part of a market that seems likely to have a sunny future.

Janet Preus is associate editor of Specialty Fabrics Review, a publication of the Industrial Fabrics Association International, and contributing editor for Fabric Graphics.

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