Saturday, Nov 01, 2014

‘UV radiation levels on rise’

Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas | Pune | Posted: May 3, 2014 4:09 am

For the past 10 days, Pune has been facing medium to high-risk ultraviolet radiations from the sun. The Ultraviolet-Index (UVI) has been consistently around eight — especially during afternoon hours. Prolonged exposure could be harmful, especially to the eyes, scientists with System of Air Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) have cautioned.

Prolonged human exposure to solar UV radiation may result in acute and chronic health effects on the skin, eye and immune system. Dr Gufran Beig, chief scientific officer, SAFAR, told The Indian Express that over-exposure to the sun could be dangerous as the sun’s UV radiation can cause immediate effects such such as sunburn and long-term problems such as skin cancer and cataract.

The UV Index, which was developed by city-based Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune, provides important information to help one plan outdoor work to prevent overexposure to the sun’s rays. Values below five are considered safe and pose no risk, values between five and six are considered low risk, UV index values between six and eight are considered medium risk while those over eight are considered high risk.

Records from April 20-May 1 show that the city is facing medium to high risk of Ultraviolet Radiation when UV-Index is consistently touching around 8, during afternoon hours (Noon-3 pm). It started to increase from low risk to medium risk from April 20 and continued to rise.

Medium risk means that the sun is not very dangerous in UV, but one should avoid being in direct sunlight for more than two hours. High risk means the UV rays are harmful and a direct continuous exposure to sun for an hour is sufficient to get a sun burn. Redness (erythema) will occur after longer exposure.

UV-Index is zero during night-time. These days in Pune, UVI starts to build up after sunrise and peaks at 2 pm and then starts to descent and again become 0 after 8 pm. It is essential to wear UV-A+B sun glasses and also to keep out of direct sunlight, Neha Parkhi, research officer at IITM, said. It is a misconception that only fair-skinned people should be concerned about overexposure to the sun or UV. The risk of UV radiation-related health effects on the eyes and immune system is independent of skin type, Beig said.

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