July is UV Safety Month

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has named July as Ultraviolet (UV) Safety Month. The goal is to spread the word about how important it is to protect everyone’s skin and eyes from the harmful effects of UV rays.

UV radiation is a form of electromagnetic radiation, with the main source of UV radiation being the sun. When the sun’s rays are at their strongest, UV radiation is also at its peak.

Meaning clear, sunny days in the summer tend to produce the highest levels of UV radiation. UV levels will also be highest near surfaces that reflect sunlight, such as snow or sand, and it is more pervasive at higher altitudes. Additionally, UV radiation can also come from tanning beds, welding torches, and other man-made sources.

Learn how you can protect your skin from UV radiation by following these measures to minimize the risks that come with sun exposure.

  1. Block UV light with protective clothing. This includes wearing a hat (preferably wide brimmed) as well as shade-protective clothing. This can partly shield the skin from the harmful effects of UV ray exposure. The American Academy of Ophthalmology notes that many forget to wear sunglasses that have a label that says protects 99% of UV radiation for eye protection.
  2. Stay in the shade if possible. This is especially important when UV radiation is most intense at midday between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm. The sun can still damage the skin on cloudy days or in the winter, so year-round protection is important.
  3. Choose the right sunscreen and apply it correctly. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's regulations for sunscreen labeling recommend that the sunscreen have a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15, and it should protect against both UVA and UVB radiation. When out in the sun, apply at least one ounce (a palmful) of sunscreen every two hours. It should be applied more often when sweating or swimming, even if the sunscreen is waterproof.

Additional information about how much sun protection is needed is available at the Environmental Protection Agency's UV index.