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NOAA NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE AND EPA ADOPT
NEW GLOBAL ULTRAVIOLET INDEX GUIDELINES
GUIDANCE HELPS REDUCE OVEREXPOSURE TO DANGEROUS UV RAYS

NOAA image of NOAA UV Index forecast map for May 28, 2004.May 28, 2004 — The NOAA National Weather Service and the Environmental Protection Agency announced the new Global Ultraviolet Index, which replaces the existing UV reporting methods in the United States. The announcement was made jointly by the agencies in Washington, D.C. (Click NOAA image for larger view of NOAA UV Index forecast map for May 28, 2004. Click here for high resolution version, which is a large file. Please credit “NOAA.”)

Developed by the World Health Organization, the United Nations Environment Program and other international organizations, the Global UV Index is a set of guidelines designed to better help people understand which precautions to take to protect themselves from different levels of UV radiation. These guidelines will standardize reporting of surface UV radiation levels in the United States with those in other nations. Canada also is adopting the guidelines.

"The standardization of guidelines for reporting UV risks is a landmark venture of governments and health organizations working together to save lives," said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. "The Daily NOAA/EPA UV-Index is computed using the forecasted ozone data, a radiative transfer model, forecasted cloud amounts and the elevation of the forecast cities." NOAA modified the UV-Index forecast products this month to comply with the WHO guidelines.

“With summer around the corner and sun-drenched beaches beckoning, it's easy to forget that the sunlight that feels so good can be harmful," said Mike Leavitt, EPA administrator. "Our new UV index is a quick and easy way for people to know when it's
important to use sun screen and how to avoid too much sun."

The UV Index is a measure of the amount of skin-damaging UV radiation reaching the Earth's surface. Currently, UV Index forecasts issued by the NOAA National Weather Service provides information about UV intensity during the solar noon hour (1 :00 p.m. daylight saving time) of the following day. The UV Index informs people when rays will be strongest so that they can take action to protect themselves. Overexposure to UV radiation from the sun can lead to serious health effects, particularly skin cancer, which is preventable. Incidence of malignant melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, has more than doubled in the United States in the last thirty years.

"We are excited that the U.S. is adopting the Global UV Index," said James Spencer, co-chair of the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention and professor of Dermatology at the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine. "If people use the Index to protect themselves from the sun during peak UV intensity hours, their chances of UV-related health problems—like skin cancer—will decrease greatly."

The NOAA National Weather Service and EPA will provide daily UV forecasts for 58 major metropolitan areas, as well as forecasts by zip code. Information about the Global UV Index, including downloadable files and links to sites about UV radiation, is available on EPA's Web site.

The NOAA National Weather Service is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories, helping to protect lives and property and enhance the national economy.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of the nationís coastal and marine resources. NOAA is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Relevant Web Sites
NOAA Current UV Index Forecast

NOAA Current UV Index Forecast (Text Version)

NOAA Current UV Index Forecast Map

Media Contact:
Carmeyia Gillis, NOAA Climate Prediction Center, (301) 763-8000 ext. 7163