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Jun 21, 2022

SunSmart Global UV App launched

Foreign Affairs News Desk
WMO image
WMO image

A new app for mobile phones that provides localized information on ultraviolet (UV) radiation levels has been launched by the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Labour Organization (ILO).

The SunSmart Global UV app provides five-day UV and weather forecasts at searchable locations. It highlights time slots when sun protection is required with the aim of helping people around the world know when to use sun protection, in an effort to reduce the global burden of skin cancer and UV-related eye damage.

The SunSmart Global UV app is available free of charge at both the Apple App and Google Play stores. It provides personalized options so that users can take actions to protect prolonged, excessive UV exposure, a major cause of skin cancer and other UV related diseases, said the press release of the WHO.

The app allows the inclusion of national and local data streams and adaptation to multiple languages – it is currently available in Chinese, English, French, Russian, Dutch and Spanish.

Globally, it is estimated that over 1.5 million cases of skin cancer (melanoma and non-melanoma combined) were diagnosed globally in 2020.

During the same period, more than 120,000 people across the world lost their lives to this highly preventable disease. One of the main factors contributing to these cancers is excess UV radiation from thinning of the earth’s stratospheric ozone layer resulting from the release of certain manmade chemicals.

In the meantime, individuals need to be particularly cautious to protect themselves from receiving too much UV exposure – this is where the UV app plays an important awareness role.

Everyone needs some sun, mainly for the production of vitamin D which helps to prevent the development of bone diseases such as rickets, osteomalacia and osteoporosis. But too much sun can be dangerous – and even deadly.  The summer months hide real danger.

The UV App has been launched to coincide with the first day of summer in the northern hemisphere. By increasing the public’s awareness and helping to reduce the incidence of skin cancer, this application ultimately supports the achievement of UN Sustainable Development Goal 3, which aims to ensure healthy lives and well-being worldwide by 2030, it added.

The app is based on the UV Index, which describes the level of solar UV radiation at the earth’s surface. The UV Index is reported on a scale of 1 (or “Low”) to 11 and higher (or “Extreme”).

The higher the index value, the greater the potential for damage to the skin and eye, and the less time it takes for harm to occur.

The maximum UV Index is at noon when the sun is highest in the sky. Adapting outdoor activities and using sun protection are recommended when the UV Index is 3 or above.

UV damage is cumulative and UV can be harmful when people are exposed for long periods – even at low levels.

The Global Solar UV Index was developed jointly by the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) and the German Federal Office for Radiation Protection (Bundesamt für Strahlenschutz, BfS) to inform and alert the general public of the potential health risk associated with high UV solar radiation levels, it reads.