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-   -   Dead Sea sunburning (http://message.snopes.com/showthread.php?t=86165)

A Turtle Named Mack 01 July 2013 03:25 PM

Dead Sea sunburning
 
I have read claims that one can be in the sun much longer near the Dead Sea without burning than at most other locations. Some claims have said it is impossible to burn there, but I saw at least one testimonial of a person who said s/he burned after four-hours of midday, midsummer sun there, and I tend to accept that the protection from burning UV would not be absolute. The reasons I have read for the supposed protection are 400 meters more atmosphere generally, additional ozone protection and additional carbon dioxide protection. While I would expect 400 meters extra atmosphere, particularly the much denser atmosphere there, would give some protection, it seems unrealistic to think it would be too dramatically greater. The claims for ozone and carbon dioxide are another matter. One commenter scoffed that the ozone claim was equal to a claim that the stratosphere was thicker over the Dead Sea. Nonsense there is ozone in the troposphere as well, and just like carbon dioxide, it would tend to gather at the bottom of bowl valleys like the Dead Sea is in because those two molecules are substantially heavier (weights of 48 for ozone and 40 for CO2, compared to the other common molecules, nitrogen at 14, oxygen as O2 at 16 and water vapor at 10). Is there a substantially higher concentration of O3 and CO2 in the Dead Sea (and other bowl valleys, especially those below sea level), and do they provide substantial protection from UV damage?

Little Pink Pill 01 July 2013 04:06 PM

From Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs website:

The sun shines at the Dead Sea almost every day of the year. But it shines through an extra atmospheric layer because the area lies far below sea level and through a natural sunscreen of evaporating water and chemicals from the body of water as well as a thick ozone layer. This weakens the harsh and dangerous ultraviolet B (UV-B) rays chiefly responsible for sunburn and greatly increases the amount of safe sun-exposure time. This makes the region ideal for helio- (sunlight) therapy. Patients can safely spend three to six hours a day under the suns healing rays to relieve disorders ranging from skin conditions to joint diseases.

Latiam 01 July 2013 04:14 PM

I would still burn there. I burn everywhere.
My skin is so pale that it often has a sort of glowy effect when people take pictures with flash.

Lainie 01 July 2013 04:30 PM

It sounds like just about anyone could burn there, under the right circumstances. It would just take longer.

Dr. Dave 01 July 2013 04:51 PM

I have not looked into this, but I just want to add that 4 hours mid-day sun to burn, while it does disprove a statement that "No one can burn there, ever," does not disprove that there is significant sun protection. Many people would burn at that latitude in 30 minutes or less.

Lainie 01 July 2013 05:20 PM

Latiam and me, for example. :lol:

George Carlin joked about "Irish phosphorescence" -- "You don't try to tan, you just try to get the blue out."

A Turtle Named Mack 01 July 2013 05:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dr. Dave (Post 1749043)
I have not looked into this, but I just want to add that 4 hours mid-day sun to burn, while it does disprove a statement that "No one can burn there, ever," does not disprove that there is significant sun protection. Many people would burn at that latitude in 30 minutes or less.

Yeah, exactly. That's why I worded it as 'substantial protection'. Total protection would be possible in, say, a Venusian atmosphere (but there would be other troubles being there), so it is possible, but it is more to my point that there is enhanced protection compared to, say, Daytona Beach. As I think about it, though, for the olive-skinned peoples of the Mediterranean area, the enhanced screening might well make it impossible for them to burn at the Dead Sea shores.

Troberg 06 July 2013 08:01 PM

I've been there, several times. Trust me, you can burn there, badly and quickly, especially if you take a bath in the Dead Sea and don't shower off the salt water, which then dries to tiny crystals which becomes tiny lenses which give tiny blisters.

Even without the salt water, it's easy enough to burn. I looked like the opposite of a skinhead, I had no skin on my head, and that was just an hour or so when I forgot to wear my hat (the rest of the body had sunscreen).

500 m more air simply does not provide that much protection. Heck, we who live far from the equator gets more extra air than that, simply due to the angle of the sun, which is far lower on the horizon, and we can sure as hell burn up here as well. A few hours on a nice summer day without protection is all it takes. I've done that as well. Music festival in the summer, once again, forgot the hat. I probably should staple the hat to the head, would be less painful...

So, no, it's fake, fake, fake. I kinda wish it wasn't, though, as those burns where quite painful.

RichardM 02 August 2013 09:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Lainie (Post 1749052)
Latiam and me, for example. :lol:

George Carlin joked about "Irish phosphorescence" -- "You don't try to tan, you just try to get the blue out."

Lainie, Latiam,
I can recommend a sun block that would work for even you two. It works for me. It is called Liquid Paper! ;)

Troberg 08 August 2013 06:35 PM

Well, if you go to the Dead Sea (or the Red Sea), I wouldn't recommend any sun screen less than 36, preferably stronger. You want something on a level similar to a thick layer of asphalt...

UEL 28 September 2015 03:24 PM

Resurrecting a thread:

I thought of this today. As Sukkot is in swing here, I was downtown Tiberias looking at the different shelters.

Tiberias is on the west shore of the Sea of Galilee, 212 metres below sea level. I got a good burn on my face.

It may have taken a little longer, but I'm not sure. It was not a bad burn (I was wearing a baseball hat) but it was still a mild burn nonetheless.

Skeptic 28 September 2015 10:58 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Little Pink Pill (Post 1749029)
From Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs website: ... Patients can safely spend three to six hours a day under the suns healing rays to relieve disorders ranging from skin conditions to joint diseases.

This is a dangerous claim. There's more harm in sunshine than just a sunburn that might last a few days. I was raised in sunny Australia and when I left school we moved to not-so-sunny Ireland. After about 20 years there, I was diagnosed with melanoma. My doctor said it was due to my childhood exposure decades before.

Another point is ethnic sensitivity. Aren't Celtic peoples like the Irish more sensitive to sun cancers than say the Mediterranean people.

Troberg 29 September 2015 05:46 AM

Three hours without sunscreen at the Dead Sea, especially for us pale northeners, is a really bad sun burn.

I'd also say that, apart from some vitamin (D?), there is no evidence that tanning, especially excessive tanning, has any positive Health effects at all. Even when it comes to the vitamin, you do not need much sun, just some walks outside is all that's needed.

And, while we are at it, I don't give much for the healing effects of Dead Sea salt and Dead Sea mud either. Hype based on exotics, nothing more.

That said, I still thouroghly recommend going there. Check out the nearby sites as well, such as Petra, Jerash, Wadi Rum, Karak, snorkling at Aqaba, Amman (especially downtown, the theatre and the citadel), drive along Kings Highway and so on. It won't have any magical Health effects, but it's still an amazing tour and a fantastic way to spend a couple of weeks.


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