Earth Gauge: Have Fun in the Sun

Whatâ??s your favorite outdoor activity? Whether itâ??s swimming, hiking, boating or fishing, donâ??t forget to protect your skin and eyes from the sun when you head outside to enjoy long summer days. The sun emits radiation in the form of ultraviolet (UV) rays. UV radiation is highest when and where the sunâ??s rays are the strongest. This means that UV levels will be highest around noon on a clear sunny day, as well as during the summer months. UV levels will also be highest near surfaces that reflect sunlight, like water, snow and sand.

Exposure to UV can cause sunburn (ouch!), skin aging, eye damage and skin cancer â?? the most common form of cancer in the United States â?? and an estimated 1,510 Missouri residents will be diagnosed with melanoma in 2014. But thereâ??s good news: skin cancer and other effects of UV exposure are largely preventable.

Tip: July is UV Safety Month, a great time to brush-up on strategies for staying safe â?? and having fun! â?? in the sun.

Know before you go: Check the UV Index, which provides a forecast of the expected risk of overexposure to UV radiation from the sun.

Wear sunscreen: Sunscreens with Sun Protection Factor (SPF) 15 and higher provide protection by preventing UV radiation from reaching your skin. Reapply every two hours and after swimming, working or exercising outside.

Wear sunglasses: Protect your eyes with sunglasses that have 100 percent UV protection. Check the label for the protection level.

Work and play in the shade: When you are outside, seek shade. Wear tightly woven clothing and a wide brimmed hat to reduce the amount of UV radiation coming into contact with your skin.

Learn more about UV safety from EPAâ??s SunWise program and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

Estimated Number of New Cases of Melanoma by State (Source: American Cancer Society)

(Sources: EPA SunWise Program. â??Action Steps for Sun Safety.â??; â??Skin Cancer Facts for Your State,â??; U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Federal Occupational Health. â??Whatâ??s Your UV:IQ?â??; American Cancer Society. (2014). Cancer Facts and Figures: 2014. Retrieved March 6, 2013, from )