Many of us see the ultraviolet (UV) index on weather reports and read about UV alerts at particular times of the day. But do you know what it actually means and how it affects you?
There are two main types of UV rays and both cause damage to skin cells. Ultraviolet light is a form of radiation invisible to the human eye. Ultraviolet wavelengths of sunlight are made up of UVB, which has shorter wavelengths and higher energy, and UVA, which has longer wavelengths and lower energy.
Both UVA and UVB cause damage to skin cells and contribute to skin cancer, melanoma, premature skin ageing, wrinkles and sun spots.
UVB is predominantly responsible for sunburn and UVA contributes to ageing as it penetrates deeper into the skin layers due to its longer wavelengths.
The Australian Bureau of Meteorology says, "Think UV, not heat - UV radiation is not related to how hot or cold it is. You can still get burnt on cool or cloudy days."
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends protecting the skin from the sun when the Ultraviolet Radiation Index (UVI) is 3 or higher. According to the WHO, "the UVI is a measure of the level of UV radiation. The values of the index range from zero upward. The higher the UVI, the greater the potential damage to the skin and eye and the less time it takes to occur."
Dr Emilie Van Deventer, the leading expert at the WHO of the Radiation Programme says "Only recently has tanning become a fashion requiring preventive messages to explain the obvious, that it is dangerous to burn your skin and that sun protection is paramount."
The "index" part of the UVI refers to a table which was created over 20 years ago. This table was to be used in European countries and across North America.
Below is a summary of the UVI chart provided by the WHO.
For non-science enthusiasts, the most important thing to remember is that both the UVA and the UVB are harmful and can contribute to skin cancer, melanoma, premature skin ageing, wrinkles and sun spots.
It is also important to remember that even on cloudy days, the UV levels can be extreme. Research shows that up to 80% of UV radiation penetrates clouds.
At Solbari, we encourage all individuals to lead a healthy outdoors lifestyle but remind them that it is essential to protect your skin and check it regularly.
Solbari offers a range of UPF50+ sun protective clothing, sun hats, UV arm sleeves, sun umbrellas and sun protective driving gloves. All Solbari fabrics have been independently tested and rated UPF 50+ by the Australian Government. Solbari has loyal customers in over 75 countries.