Staying healthy this Fourth of July

Independence Day is almost here, with the potential for fun, sun and fireworks. While preparing for barbecues, beach days and get-togethers with family and friends, keep in mind a few health and safety tips to make sure this holiday is a healthy one.

Safer in the sun

Whatever your plans, the Fourth of July can be a great day to be outdoors, so make sun safety a priority. Sunburns don’t just hurt – they can also raise your risk for skin cancer. The best defense is often taking preventative measures:

  • Stay in the shade. Use a tree or umbrella to create a place to rest out of the sun.
  • Stay in your shades. Sunglasses protect your eyes from harmful UV radiation that can cause cataracts and other eye conditions.
  • Schedule for the sun. Plan outdoor activities for the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the peak time for UV rays – midday sun.
  • Cover up. Hats and light, breathable clothing minimize exposure to UV rays.

After taking these measures, use sunscreen as a further layer of defense against harmful UV rays. Check out EWG’s Guide to Sunscreens to find the best products for you and your family, and remember to reapply every two hours for maximum protection and after swimming or sweating.

A bug’s life

When you’re relaxing outdoors, don’t forget about pesky insects. Aside from itchiness and irritation, bug bites can also cause serious health problems. With bug-borne diseases on the rise, it is more important than ever to take steps to protect yourself and your family.

As with sunburns, preventative measures are an important defense. Avoid areas with high bug concentrations and cover up with protective clothing. If you’re planning a picnic, use nets and fans around outdoor eating areas, if possible, to keep pests away from your food and your family.

For an extra layer of protection, EWG’s Guide to Bug Repellents can help you identify safe and effective products for adults, children and animals. Keep in mind the local risks when you look for a product – not every repellant works against every insect, so choose what’s most suitable for your regional pests.

Don’t forget bug repellant contains ingredients too harsh for young children and isn’t recommended for use on infants under 6 months old.

Healthy eating

For some, barbecues are essential to the Fourth of July. When preparing a meal for family and friends, consult EWG’s Food Scores, a resource for finding nutritious options at the grocery store. For more convenience, our Healthy Living mobile app gives you info on the go – just scan a product’s barcode at the store to get its rating at your fingertips.

When it comes to processed foods like chips and cookies, it also makes sense to read ingredient information if you want to ditch the most concerning additives. Check out EWG’s Food Additives State of the Science to learn about potential health harms associated with food chemicals and which to avoid.

Meat is not a barbecue requirement, but it’s the preference for many people, and who doesn’t love a hot dog on a holiday evening? Just tread carefully when you shop. EWG analyzed more than 47,000 federal government lab tests of bacteria on supermarket meat in 2018 and found that almost 80 percent contain superbugs, or antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Protect yourself and your family by choosing organic meat or meat raised without antibiotics. Our meat and dairy decoder can show you the most reliable labels.

Or put some fish on the grill instead – it’s better for you and for the environment. Our Good Seafood Guide includes a “calculator” you can use to find out which types are right for you.

Planning side dishes or grilled vegetables? Check out EWG’s 2022 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™ to avoid foods contaminated with harmful pesticides. If you’re craving any of the fruits and veggies on our Dirty Dozen™ list, reduce harmful pesticide residue by buying organic, whenever possible. For any of the produce on the Clean Fifteen™, non-organic is a safe bet.

EWG has plenty of resources to help this holiday run smoothly and safely. No matter how you celebrate, we wish you a wonderful Independence Day weekend.

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