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Blue Bullet ALL ABOUT UV INDEX METERS

UV Index Meters come in a variety of size and shapes. Some units have unique features such as the UV HAWK™, which has been programmed to allow the user to enter their skin tone and the SPF of their sunblock. It is possible to purchase UV Meters that separate UVA and UVB; light however, most meters designed for consumers read the UV Index.

The UV Index is a forecast of the probable intensity of skin damaging ultraviolet radiation reaching the surface during the solar noon hour (11:30-12:30 local standard time or 12:30-13:30 local daylight time). The greater the UV Index the greater the amount of skin damaging UV radiation. How much UV radiation is needed to actually damage one's skin is dependant on several factors. However, in general the darker one's skin (that is the more melanin one has in his/her skin) the longer (or the more UV radiation) it takes to cause erythema (skin reddening). It is widely believed that many abnormalities of skin, such as various cancers, are directly related to cumulative exposure of UV light. As the quality of the ozone layer decreases, there is cause for concern that the cumulative exposure to damaging wavelengths of UV light will continue to increase thus causing an increase in the incidence of skin disorders.

The Environmental Protection Agency has devised general guidelines as far as what to do to protect oneself from overexposure to UV radiation. These are shown in the table below.

Exposure
Category
Index Number
Sun Protection Messages
LOW
<2

You can safely enjoy being outside. Wear sunglasses on bright days. If you burn easily, cover up and use sunscreen SPF 15+.

In winter, reflection off snow can nearly double UV strength.

MODERATE
3-5

Take precautions if you will be outside, such as wearing a hat and sunglasses and using sunscreen SPF 15+. Reduce your exposure to the sun's most intense UV radiation by seeking shade during midday hours.

HIGH
6-7

Protection against sun damage is needed. Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, use sunscreen SPF 15+ and wear a long-sleeved shirt and pants when practical. Reduce your exposure to the sun's most intense UV radiation by seeking shade during midday hours.

VERY HIGH
8-10

Protection against sun damage is needed. If you need to be outside during midday hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., take steps to reduce sun exposure. A shirt, hat and sunscreen are a must, and be sure you seek shade.

Beachgoers should know that white sand and other bright surfaces reflect UV and can double UV exposure.

EXTREME
11+

Protection against sun damage is needed. If you need to be outside during midday hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., take steps to reduce sun exposure. A shirt, hat and sunscreen are a must, and be sure you seek shade.

Beachgoers should know that white sand and other bright surfaces reflect UV and can double UV exposure.

Although the UV Index Scale stops at 11, it has been reported that levels can be much higher. A UV Index greater than 11 is quite common in the southern hemisphere where the ozone layer is depleted. Values as high as 17 have been recorded in Carnarvon, Western Australia.

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