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UV Bellcurve Explains Radiation Behaviour

1 November 2004

UV Bellcurve Explains Radiation Behaviour

Organisations concerned about the risks associated with Ultraviolet radiation in New Zealand have come up with a new graphic device to help Kiwis understand the way in which Ultraviolet radiation works.

It made its first appearances in the media at Labour Weekend.

It is one of the ways in which SunSmart partners, the Cancer Society and the Health Sponsorship Council, along with the New Zealand MetService and NIWA, are working together to ensure people are aware of the extreme risks of UV and how to minimise these.

One year ago, the Ultraviolet Index (UVI) was introduced as a way of warning New Zealanders of the level of Ultraviolet radiation in the atmosphere which causes sunburn leading to potentially deadly skin cancers.

The Ultraviolet Index (UVI) is an international, scientific measure of the levels of Ultraviolet radiation (UVR) in the environment.

The index measures the levels from 1 (low risk) through to the extremes of 11 to 15.

The Ultraviolet radiation in New Zealand’s environment is highest during January, when it can get as high as 14 in Northland. In these extremes, over-exposure can lead to skin cancer says Cancer Society SunSmart spokesperson Wendy Billingsley.

“Throughout a day UVR behaves in a predictable way. It is highest at solar noon, which is about 1pm during daylight saving months. Typically, during a New Zealand summer you will need to protect yourself at least between 11am and 4pm,” she says.

The new graphic is in the shape of a bell curve, showing how the level gradually rises through the levels of risk and then eases again after the midday peak.

Protection from over exposure to UVR is required when the UVI levels reach 6 and above, and this happens almost daily between October and March.

The media includes the UVI as part of their weather forecasting, and these forecasts are also available on MetService and SunSmart websites.

“Our research has shown that people want to know more about UV,” Ms Billingsley says. “We’ve set up a free mobile text information line where people can check the UV levels in their own area.”

The mobile number is 88 followed by the area code then send text to UVI.

SunSmart Week from November 14 – 20 will highlight many of the issues around New Zealand’s extreme UV exposure.


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