Disposable wristbands, much like the paper bracelets worn at concerts, can protect wearers from sunburn and skin-cancer risk by alerting them when to head into the shade.
The new device lets people know when they’re nearing their limit of ultraviolet (UV) radiation exposure by changing color from yellow to pink as the risk of overexposure increases. They’re cheap (potentially just 15 cents per bracelet), easy to wear and can be thrown out at the end of the day.
The technology was created by Professor Andrew Mills and Dr. Michael McFarlane, both formerly in the department of pure and applied chemistry at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland. The researchers are now consultants to Intellego Technologies, the Swedish company that will develop and sell the new devices in the spring of 2013, according to the U.K.’s Daily Mail.
The wristbands contain an acid-release agent and a dye that work in concert to pick up UV light and then change color depending on the levels of radiation detected. Different bands will be tailored for people of varying skin types, who have different levels of UV tolerance. The band made for fair-skinned and fair-haired types will change color faster than bands made for darker-complected people.
In the U.S., skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, with more than 3.5 million cases diagnosed each year. Sunburn or overexposure to the sun is a major risk factor for developing skin cancer, and Intellego is betting that the worldwide market for the new wristband will be substantial.
But whether or not you decide to use such “UV dosimeter” technology, the tried and true rules of skin cancer prevention still apply: wear sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher, wear protective clothing and wide-brimmed hats, wear wraparound sunglasses, stay out of the sun during peak midday hours and don’t use indoor tanning beds, which researchers say are driving up rates of melanoma in young people, especially women.
If you absolutely can’t live without a bronzed glow, get it from a bottle.