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Organisations link up to fight skin cancer

The Bermuda Cancer and Health Service has partnered with the Bermuda Weather Service to tackle the issue of skin cancer.

A spokeswoman for BCHC said that the organisations have worked together to purchase and operate new radiometer equipment capable of providing accurate real-time Ultraviolet Index (UVI) readings to the public.

“A UVI reading provides us with a scale that measures UV Radiation from the sun, the major source of radiation that causes skin cancer, cataracts, and other illnesses,” the spokeswoman said.

“The values of the index range from zero to 11+. The higher the UVI number, the greater the potential for damage to the skin and eyes, and the less time it takes for damage to occur. The UVI readings inform the public of the UV radiation on a given day and are reported from a prediction at the solar noon hour when sun is at its highest point in the sky. The UV levels will rise and fall as the day progresses.”

The collaborative effort began last summer, and since then the BWS has provided a two day UVI forecast on it’s website. With the new equipment, the service will be able to put out real time UVI data both on its website and in the media.

“The equipment is currently being installed and tested at the BWS in St David’s,” the spokeswoman said. “By the start of the summer full operation of the instrumentation is expected, and BWS provisionally plan to roll out the real-time UVI data in a number of innovative ways.”

The spokeswoman said the project came to fruition due to the hard work of Lynanne Bolton and her family, calling her a driving force behind the initiative.

The announcement was made this week to fit in with International Melanoma month, aimed at raising awareness of the potentially deadly ailment.

UV radiation is the leading cause of skin cancer, which is 12 per cent more prevalent in Bermuda than in the United States.

In order to limit UV exposure, BCHC recommends that the public wear sun protective clothing, apply sunscreen before going outdoors, seek shade between 10am and 4pm and wear UV protecting sunglasses.

“Now, more importantly, we have the UVI data being recorded here on island by BWS,” the spokeswoman said.

“This seals the deal in all the required steps to protecting yourself while outdoors. Depending on the UVI value, everyone will be able to plan their outdoor activities, accordingly.”