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[UV ON TAP] WHO launches app to curb sun exposure, skin cancer

A new app for mobile phones that provides localized information on ultraviolet (UV) radiation levels has been launched by the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Labour Organization (ILO).

Much of UV-related illness and death (e.g., skin cancer, premature aging and other skin damage, cataracts, immune system repression) can be avoided through simple prevention measures such as limiting time in the midday sun, seeking shade when UV rays are most intense, and wearing protective clothing, hats and sunglasses - as well as the use of sunscreen. Yet, according to WHO, more than 1.5 million skin cancer cases were diagnosed in 2020, and more than 120,000 people lost their lives to this “highly preventable” disease.

Vera Paquete-Perdigão, Director of the ILO’s Governance and Tripartism, Department, said the app was “a useful tool to assist companies and workers in identifying hazardous work, and planning safety and health measures.”

The SunSmart Global UV app provides five-day UV and weather forecasts at searchable locations. It highlights time slots when sun protection is required in an effort to reduce the global burden of skin cancer and UV-related eye damage. The index uses a scale of 1 (or Low) to 11 and higher (or Extreme). The higher the index value, the greater the potential for damage to the skin and eyes, and the less time it takes for harm to occur.

The app also allows the inclusion of national and local data streams and adaptation to multiple languages – it is currently available in Chinese, English, French, Russian, Dutch and Spanish.

The SunSmart Global UV app is available free of charge at both the Apple App and Google Play stores.

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