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July 19, 2019

Weekend reads: Should you wear sunscreen on an airplane?

Daily Briefing

    Ben Palmer's reads

    The home of the first 911 call. Today, Americans take for granted the ability to dial 911 in an emergency, but how did the lifesaving system begin? In the 1960s, a federal commission on crime advised telephone companies to establish a three-digit phone number that people could call from anywhere in the country in case of emergency. According to Mary Boyd, a former president of the National Emergency Number Association, AT&T responded to that report, saying those three numbers would be 911. But in February 1968, Bob Gallagher, president of the Alabama Telephone Co., heard about AT&T's plan and, upset that independent carriers hadn't been involved in the decision, devised a plan with his boss to beat AT&T to the punch. In less than a week, a 911 system was installed in Haleyville, Alabama, and on Feb. 16, 1968, the ceremonial first 911 call was placed between a state representative and the state house speaker.

    Why you might want to wear sunscreen on an airplane. If you like sitting in the window seat of an airplane, you may want to put some sunscreen on, research suggests. According to Marisa Garshick, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College, while most airplane windows can block UVB rays effectively, UVA rays can still get through and may be "much more intense at higher altitudes." A 2014 study published in JAMA Dermatology found that, in terms of radiation exposure, flying for 56.6 minutes at cruising altitude was equivalent to spending 20 minutes in a tanning bed. So what should you do? Wear sunscreen and reapply it every two hours, Michelle Woo writes for Lifehacker, or site in the aisle seat, as it's the least-exposed seat to radiation.

    Danielle Poindexter's reads

    Do you cry extra hard at airplane movies? In her three years of attending to travelers, flight attendant Kat Anderson has observed plenty of people acting out on planes. "When people get on a plane, they revert to a lizard brain where they forget all social decencies and common sense." she said. For instance, it's not uncommon for people to start sobbing uncontrollably at the in-flight movie, louder than they otherwise would. Why? The Boston Globe investigated and found that people's inability to regulate their emotions may be due to the low air pressure in the plane. "Low air pressure reduces the oxygen in our blood and can affect our design-making and emotion," Josh Axelrod writes for NPR. And the symptoms of that condition are likely part of what causes people to sob uncontrollably during airplane movies.

    'Washless' clothing is here. Are people buying it? More brands are releasing clothing that consumers can wear for days, weeks, and even months before putting them in the wash. Writing for Vox, Alden Wicker explains that washless clothes are all about the fabric. Sweat is actually "odor-free… but as soon as it meets our body's bacteria … it's metabolized into volatile, gaseous compounds," Wicker writes. Some fabrics, such polyester, attract these oily compounds, while natural fibers, like cotton, will allow the moisture and the odor to evaporate, even without washing. But while washless clothes may be more convenient for consumers and potentially better for the environment, they tend to cost more than items that require washing, Wicker reports. A cheaper strategy may be to just hang your clothes outside and let the sun kill any lingering bacteria, according to Wicker. 

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