So I was just watching the HBO series Chenoybl and saw that people suffered various degreesvof burns from radiation form Uranium 235 and some were very minor and looked like a normal sun burn.

My question is, does Suncream protect against radiation burns?

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    $\begingroup$ There are quite a few different kinds of ionizing radiation, to begin with. $\endgroup$ Jun 18 '19 at 18:29
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    $\begingroup$ I suspect the general answer would be no as the suncreams are designed to protect from UV-light only (and most of them only cover this range partially). $\endgroup$
    – andselisk
    Jun 18 '19 at 18:34
  • $\begingroup$ Your best bet would be to make yourself a nice lead coat (insulated by a coating on the outside not to expose yourself to lead either), though that wouldn't protect you from inhaling and assimilating radioactive compounds, and many of them would not be excreted immediately, accumulating in your thyroid (in the case of radioactive iodine), or for a very long term in your bones. $\endgroup$
    – Veritas
    Jun 18 '19 at 22:06
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    $\begingroup$ The sunscreen would have tiny effect against Alfa radiation, as any other matter, because Alfa gets absorbed in fraction of mm. The bad luck is that the most of the radiation from uranium fission is beta and gamma radiation that reach much deeper, especially the latter. $\endgroup$
    – Poutnik
    Jun 19 '19 at 5:13

The only radiation sunscreen protects you against is near UV light not radioactive emission

Sunscreens are designed to protect from the near UV radiation present in sunlight. Some block both UVA (315-400nm) and UVB (280-315nm) light but some don't work well for UVA. All UV light at ground level is harmful to skin to some extent and too much of it will cause skin damage that looks a little like a burn (though small amounts are good for encouraging vitamin D production).

Radioactivity can cause similar looking burns. But the cause of the burns is not near UV light but gamma rays (hard X-rays of much shorter wavelengths and much higher energy than UV light) and alpha and beta particles. All of these are much more dangerous than UV light (as the amount of energy deposited in tissues is far greater per photon or particle).

And sunscreen will offer no protection at all to radioactive emissions. Clothing can protect against alpha particles. But you will need several millimetres of aluminium to stop beta particles (and even then the secondary gamma rays from the interaction of those particles with the aluminium can be harmful). And gamma rays might need a thick chunk of lead to keep them out.


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