News Releases from Headquarters›Air and Radiation (OAR)
Stay Sun-Safe this Summer: Check the UV Index and Protect Your Health
WASHINGTON (May 21, 2020) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), joined by the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is recognizing the Friday before Memorial Day as “Don’t Fry Day” to encourage Americans to take a few simple steps to protect their skin and eye health from overexposure to the sun. One of these steps is to download and use EPA’s free Ultraviolet (UV) Index app on a mobile device.
“While social distancing, there are still many instances where we are working or otherwise enjoying the outdoors,” said EPA Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation Anne Idsal. “EPA’s free UV Index app gives Americans the UV intensity forecast so we can take precautions to avoid UV overexposure and protect our health.”
EPA, the National Weather Service, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention work together to make the UV Index forecast available in the United States. Check the UV Index on your phone’s weather app, or download a UV Index app like EPA’s UV index app (search for EPA’s UV Index in the iPhone App Store and on Google Play), a convenient tool to let you know the strength of the sun’s skin cancer-causing UV rays. EPA’s UV Index app gives daily and hourly UV intensity forecasts for your location, provides recommendations on sun safety, and is also available in Spanish.
Overexposure to UV is harmful and can lead to cataracts and skin cancer, the most common cancer in the United States. The National Cancer Institute estimates that more than 100,350 new cases of melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, will occur in 2020. This is over 4,000 more estimated cases than in 2019.
Fortunately, it is easy to reduce your risks:
- Seek shade when outside during mid-day hours when UV exposure is highest.
- Wear clothing such as wide-brimmed hats, long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and sunglasses that protects your skin and eyes from UV rays.
- Generously apply SPF 15+ sunscreen, and reapply often.
- Be aware that reflective water, snow, and sand intensify UV exposure.
- Avoid tanning beds and minimizing sunbathing.
- Check the UV Index.
Be sure to get the UV Index app on your smartphone, sign up for a daily UV Index forecast via email, or check the UV Index online at https://19january2021snapshot.epa.gov/sunsafety. Also, if you’re looking for resources to teach sun-safety, you can request a SunWise tool kit from the National Environmental Education Foundation at: https://www.neefusa.org/sunwise
In addition to providing the UV index app, EPA is protecting public health by implementing the Montreal Protocol, a treaty to ban substances that deplete the stratospheric ozone layer. A healthy stratospheric ozone layer helps block harmful UV rays. EPA recently released a report concerning EPA’s Atmospheric and Health Effects Framework (AHEF) Model, which is used to estimate incidences of UV-induced health effects such as skin cancer and cataracts that may result from stratospheric ozone depletion. The report indicates that the successful global implementation of the Montreal Protocol will prevent 443 million cases of skin cancer and 63 million cases of cataracts for Americans born between 1890 and 2100.