Tips to Reduce expsoure to UltraViolet Radiation (Sunlight)


Because all sunlight contains some UVB, even with normal stratospheric ozone levels, it is always important to protect your skin and eyes from the sun. See a more detailed explanation of health effects linked to UVB exposure.

How can you can avoid overexposure to the UV radiation and the sun on any day?.

Limit time in the midday sun.
The sun's UV rays are the strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. To the extent possible, limit exposure to the sun during these hours. Typically, exposure at 8 a.m. or 4 p.m. is only one third that at midday. Try getting outdoor activities accomplished during minimum exposure hours. Remember, however, you can still get a sunburn even in the mid-afternoon.

Remember that incidental time in the sun can add up to long-term sun damage, including the time spent walking the dog, window shopping, performing outdoor chores, or jogging at lunch. Even on overcast days, 30 to 60 percent of the sun's rays can penetrate to the Earth's surface.

Watch for the UV Index.
This important resource helps you plan your outdoor activities in ways that prevent overexposure to the sun's rays. Developed by the National Weather Service and EPA, the UV Daily Forecast  is issued daily in selected cities across the country. While you should always take precautions against overexposure, take special care to adopt sun safety practices when the UV Index predicts exposure levels of moderate or above (Minimal: 0-2; Low: 3-4; Moderate: 5-6; High: 7-9; Very High: 10+).

Use shade wisely.
Seek shade when UV rays are the most intense, but keep in mind that shade structures (e.g., trees, umbrellas, canopies) do not offer com-plete sun protection. Students can easily remember the shadow rule: "Watch Your Shadow -- No Shadow, Seek Shade!"

Wear protective clothing. A hat with a wide brim offers good sun protection for your eyes, ears, face, and the back of your neck. Sunglasses that provide 99 to 100 percent UVA and UVB protection will greatly reduce eye damage from sun exposure. Tightly woven, loose fitting clothes will provide additional protection from the sun.

Use 'broad spectrum sunscreens,' which are those that contain active ingredients that absorb at least 85 percent of the UVA and UVB rays of the sun. Read labels carefully and choose a broad spectrum sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 15, which filters out both UVA and UVB radiation. Reapply every 2 hours, or after working, swimming, playing, or exercising outdoors.

Apply sunscreen liberally to all exposed skin, about 20 minutes before exposure, especially to easily overlooked areas like the rims of the ears, the back of the neck, and the tops of the feet. For an average adult, the recommended dose is 1 ounce, or one quarter of a 4-ounce bottle, per application. Reapply every 2 hours, after being in the water, or after exercising and sweating.

Avoid sunlamps and tanning parlors. Sunbeds damage the skin and unprotected eyes and are best avoided entirely. At the very least, they age your skin by breaking down the collagen in your skin, making it lose the youthful elastic appearance. Keep it up, and you'll look like an old Indian squaw by the time your 35!

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More Resources

EPA uses the Atmospheric and Health Effects Framework model to estimate the health benefits of stronger ozone layer protection under the Montreal Protocol. Updated information on the benefits of EPA’s efforts to address ozone layer depletion is available in a 2015 report, Updating Ozone Calculations and Emissions Profiles for Use in the Atmospheric and Health Effects Framework Model.


A Guide to the UV Index (PDF, 8 pp., 1.2 MB) - Brochure developed by EPA for meteorologists, educators and public health officials on recommendations for reporting the UV Index.

UV Safety: The Global Solar UV Index (PDF, 1 p., 109 KB) - Poster displaying the UV index scale and action steps.

The Global Solar UV Index (PDF, 18 pp., 429 KB) - Recommendations for UV Index reporting from the World Health Organization, World Meteorological Organization, the United National Environment Programme and the International Commission on Non-ionizing Radiation Protection, adopted by EPA and the National Weather Service in May, 2004.

The World Health Organization's INTERSUN program has developed a graphics package, including a UVI logo, an international color code for different UVI values, and a choice of ready-made graphics for reporting the UVI and sun safety messages. The materials may be downloaded and used free of charge.

An overview of the available graphics is available (PDF, 17pp., 460 KB).

GIF images are available for downloading.

To request a CD-ROM containing formats other than GIF, please write to [email protected]

National Weather Service UV Index information

World Health Organization UV Radiation Page

International UV Index Pages

INTERSUN - The global UV Project: A guide and compendium (PDF, 25 pp., 404 KB)

EPA's Ultraviolet Monitoring Program

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