Use of UV-protective windows and window films to aid in the prevention of skin cancer

J Long Term Eff Med Implants. 2004;14(5):415-30. doi: 10.1615/jlongtermeffmedimplants.v14.i5.70.


People are exposed to ambient solar ultraviolet (UV) radiation throughout their daily routine, intentionally and unintentionally. Cumulative and excessive exposure to UV radiation is the behavioral cause to skin cancers, skin damage, premature skin aging, and sun-related eye disorders. More than one million new cases of skin cancer were diagnosed in the United States this year. UV radiates directly and diffusely scattered by the various environmental and atmospheric conditions and has access to the skin from all directions. Because of this diffuse UV radiation, a person situated under a covering, such as the roof of a car or house, is not completely protected from the sun's rays. Because shade structures do not protect effectively against UV radiation, there have been major advances in photoprotection of glass by the development of specially designed photoprotective windows and films. It is the purpose of this collective review to highlight the photoprotective windows and films that should be incorporated into residential, commercial, and school glass windows to reduce sun exposure. Low-emittence (low-E) coatings are microscopically thin, virtually invisible, metal or metallic oxide layers deposited on a window or skylight glazing surface to reduce the U-factor by suppressing radiative heat flow as well as to limit UV radiation. The exclusive Thermaflect coating uses the most advanced, double-layer soft coat technology to continue to deliver top performance for UV protection as well as prevent heat loss in the home. This product blocks 87% of UV radiation and has an Energy Star certification in all climate zones. Tints and films have been another important advance in glass photoprotection, especially in automobiles. Quality widow film products are high-tech laminates of polyester and metallized coatings bonded by distortion-free adhesives. The International Window Film Association provides members with accreditation in solar control films, safety films, and automotive films in an effort to increase consumer awareness and demand for all professionally installed film window products. The Skin Cancer Foundation has also played a leadership role in certifying window films that limit UV transmission. The Panorama Designer and Safety Films are currently recommended for UV photoprotection by The Skin Cancer Foundation. On the basis of these innovative scientific and industrial advances in window and film photoprotective products, we recommend that they be used in all residential, commercial, and school facilities to provide photoprotection in an effort to reduce skin cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Glass*
  • Housing*
  • Humans
  • Skin Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Ultraviolet Rays*