The sun’s ultraviolet radiation is mostly perceived as ‘bad for health’ today. While UV radiation can be very harmful in the light of global warming today, lack of it can be just as worse.
The UV Index
Weather forecasts generally show a reading called the UV index. This index basically tells us the probable intensity of the sun’s damaging UV radiation that will be received by the earth in your area, when the sun is highest or at its most intense which is usually around noon. Other than the sun’s elevation, the amount of radiation is also influenced by cloud cover and the ozone levels in the stratosphere. For instance Aberdeen weather along with the weather of Scotland, Welsh mountains and the remaining extremes of Northern England, is generally cloudy which causes the UV index in these areas to be pretty low.
For common understanding, the UV index levels which range from 0 to 11 or 12 can be categorized as low, medium, high and very high risk levels taking into account the type of skin as well. Sunscreen and sun protection is needed from medium levels onwards increasing as the level increases while calling for reduced exposure consequently.
Depending on the skin-type, the probability of damage caused by exposure to UV radiation varies. Darker skin contains more melanin than the fairer skin which shields from UV damage. Within fair and dark skin types, there are those whose skin burns and others, who get tanned. Hence if Bristol weather forecast shows a UV level of 4, it may mean low or no risk for the naturally brown or darker skins whereas the fairer skinned people may require to use sunscreen of SPF 15+ and protective clothing to withstand a couple of hours of sun exposure.
The UK hardly ever experiences a UV index exceeding 8 and mostly lingers around 3-5 due to cloudy conditions and frequent showers, although London weather does experience one of the highest UV indices of around 6-7. Hence the chances of potential damage from prolonged exposure to this kind of radiation such as melanoma, cataract, sun burns, accelerated skin ageing or even decreased immunity are less.
But this does not cut the need for protective clothing, caps, hats or eye gear, sunscreens and taking shade especially if outdoor activities such as hiking, long walk or cycling are on the day’s schedule. Infants and adolescents need to be particularly protected as early life over exposure to harmful UV radiation may lead to skin cancer years later.
A lot of UK’s population rather struggles with Vitamin D deficiency resulting in weak bones, rickets or poor healing of inflammations. Vitamin D deficiency can be avoided by soaking up the sunshine in early morning hours while harmful effects can be avoided by taking measures for sun exposure between 10am-4pm.