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EPA offers tips to protect eyes & skin from the sun's harmful rays (7/16)

July 16, 2010

In recognizing Ultraviolet (UV) Safety Month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in a recent press release, is providing tips and tools to people of all ages that will protect them from the sun’s harmful rays. Overexposure to the sun can cause skin cancer and eye damage during any time of the year, regardless of skin color.

EPA launched an application for smartphones that gives users mobile access to the daily UV index forecast in their area. This application provides Americans with a new way to check the sun’s intensity and plan outdoor activities accordingly. The app provides users with a numeric index ranging from 0 to 11+ (higher numbers indicate greater amounts of skin-damaging UV radiation), and tips to protect the skin and eyes.

In addition to this new app, EPA has issued “Health Effects of Ultraviolet Radiation,” a fact sheet intended for older adults and their caregivers. The fact sheet describes how UV radiation plays a role in the development of age-related macular degeneration and skin cancer.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. More people were diagnosed with skin cancer in 2009 than with breast, prostate, lung, and colon cancer combined. One American dies every hour from skin cancer. Overexposure to UV radiation may suppress proper functioning of the body’s immune system and skin’s natural defenses. All people, regardless of skin color, are vulnerable to the effects of UV radiation.

Sun safety tips:
  • Do not burn—overexposure to the sun is the most preventable risk factor for skin cancer
  • Seek shade, especially between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. when UV radiation is most intense.
  • Wear wide-brimmed hats, protective clothing, and sunglasses that block 99-100 percent of UV radiation.
  • Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor of at least 15 on all exposed skin.
  • Check the UV Index.
  • Avoid sun tanning and tanning beds.
To download the UV Index smartphone app, go to http://www.epa.gov/enviro/mobile/ .