8.2 A New Federal Alert System for Ultraviolet (UV) Radiation

Thursday, 4 August 2005: 9:00 AM
Diplomat Ballroom (Omni Shoreham Hotel Washington D.C.)
Jason Samenow, U.S. EPA, Washington, DC; and C. S. Long and S. Monroe

Every hour of every day, one American dies of skin cancer, and the number of mortalities is rising annually. Skin cancer is a preventable disease. Improved dissemination of information to the general public about the dangers of overexposure to harmful solar UV radiation can help to counteract rising skin cancer rates. In May 2005, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Weather Service will begin piloting an experimental “UV Alert System” to advise the public when UV levels are unusually high and represent an elevated risk to human health. The UV Alert System will consist of a web-based map that will be updated daily to show where the next-day forecast triggers an alert. This paper will review the public health rationale for an alert system, describe the criteria used to determine when an alert is issued, and explain the approach used to deliver the alert to the public. The alerts will warn the public when the likelihood of overexposure to UV radiation is especially high, thereby helping to raise awareness of the UV Index and the protective measures people can take to minimize their exposure.
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