EPA Offers Tips to Protect Eyes, Skin from the Sun’s Harmful Rays
Download sun safety information on smartphones
By Enesta Jones
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 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
EPA’s SunWise program encourages sun safety and teaches children and their caregivers how to protect themselves from overexposure to the sun. The program is now in more than 25,000 schools and 4,500 camps, science and children’s museums, daycare centers, and other community-based organizations nationwide. SunWise schools and communities receive materials that encourage sun-safe infrastructures, including shade structures (e.g., canopies, trees) and policies (e.g., using hats, sunscreen, sunglasses) to promote sun protection.
EPA’s Aging Initiative focuses on protecting the environmental health of older Americans. By 2030, the number of older persons in the United States is expected to double to more than 70 million. As we age, our bodies may become more susceptible to environmental hazards because of the diminished capacity of various organ systems that occur in the natural aging process. In addition, the Aging Initiative encourages older people to volunteer in their communities to reduce hazards and protect the environment.
To download the UV Index smartphone app: www.epa.gov/enviro/mobile/
More information on the SunWise program: www.epa.gov/sunwise/
More information on EPA’s Aging Initiative and to download the fact sheet: www.epa.gov/aging/
About the Author
Enesta Jones is a Press Officer at U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.