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Shining a light on a glaring problem

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A new study shines some light on objects we carry each and every day that may be bouncing light that is proven to increase the risk of skin cancer. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) A new study shines some light on objects we carry each and every day that may be bouncing light that is proven to increase the risk of skin cancer. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Researchers found that over an hour's time in the sun, a tablet reflected 85 percent more light than the normal background of a grass field. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Researchers found that over an hour's time in the sun, a tablet reflected 85 percent more light than the normal background of a grass field. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
They found the glossier the surface, the more light was reflected. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) They found the glossier the surface, the more light was reflected. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Dr. Barrett Zlotoff and his researchers hooked up sensors to a mannequin head. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Dr. Barrett Zlotoff and his researchers hooked up sensors to a mannequin head. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(3 ON YOUR SIDE) -

What do your electronic devices and the need for sun protection have in common? You may want to reflect on that.

A new study shines some light on objects we carry each and every day that may be bouncing light that is proven to increase the risk of skin cancer.

When the sun is shining outside, the last place Dana Humphrey wants to be is working inside.  

She loves to pack up her computer, her smartphone and head out to soak up some rays.

"So I like to spend as much time as possible outdoors," Humphrey said.

But the results of this new study, which measured the amount of light reflected off some electronics in the sun, has Humphrey rethinking her work day.

"It's a big wake-up call," Humphrey said.

Dr. Barrett Zlotoff and his researchers hooked up sensors to a mannequin head. Then measured the amount of UV light that "bounced off" smartphones, tablets and laptops placed on a music stand.

"When we found out the results, we were actually surprised that it was pretty significant," Dr. Zlotoff said.

They found that over an hour's time in the sun, a tablet reflected 85 percent more light than the normal background of a grass field.

A laptop was reflected 75 percent more while a smartphone was 35 percent.

"We don't often think about the environmental things that are reflecting light that might be increasing the amount of ultraviolet light which is the kind of light that causes skin cancer and causes skin aging," Dr. Zlotoff.

They found the glossier the surface, the more light was reflected.

It's just like those crazy scenes in movies mocking how people used to use tin foil to get better tans.

But Dr. Zlotoff says it's important to note that it's exposure over time that is the concern.

"I don't think that's significant enough to be a problem with one exposure. I think the big issue is you're using these devices all the time for years and years and it just is another source of ultraviolet light that could be contributing to your overall exposure," Dr. Zlotoff said.

An easy way to protect yourself is to wear sunglasses and sunblock that is at least SPF 30 all year.

Humphrey says skin cancer runs in her family. Now that she knows about this study, she's going to be more cautious.

"It's definitely something that I’m going to start thinking about more seriously," Humphrey said.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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Gary HarperGary Harper is the senior consumer and investigative reporter for 3 On Your Side at KTVK-TV.

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Gary Harper
3 On Your Side

With more than 20 years of television experience, Gary has established himself as a leader in the industry when it comes to assisting viewers and resolving their consumer-related issues. His passion and enthusiasm have helped him earn an Emmy for Best Consumer Reporter from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He’s also garnered several Emmy nominations

He has negotiated resolutions with companies of all sizes, including some of the biggest corporations in the nation.

Gary has successfully recouped more than $1 million for viewers around the state, making 3 On Your Side one of the most popular segments on KTVK and the station's Web site.

He's best known for investigating and confronting unscrupulous contractors. In fact, many of his news reports have led to police investigations and jail time for those who were caught. Viewers, as well as the companies and people he investigates, regard him as consistently being thorough and fair.

Gary has been with KTVK-TV since 1997. Prior to his arrival in Phoenix, he worked for WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he was as an anchor and reporter.

Gary is from Chicago, but launched his television career in Lubbock, Texas, after earning a broadcast journalism degree from Texas Tech University. Following his graduation, he was quickly hired by KLBK-TV in Lubbock, where he enterprised and broke numerous exclusive reports. His aggressive reporting in Texas helped garner him Best Reporter by the Associated Press.

Gary has been married since 1994 and is the proud father of two sons. When he's not helping viewers, Gary is busy catching up on his favorite college and professional football teams as well as cheering on his beloved Texas Tech Red Raiders.

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