Sat, Jul 31, 2004 - Page 2 News List

EPA warns public on summer risk of ultraviolet radiation

DANGEROUS RAYS The environmental agency released disturbing data suggesting that we are endangering our health whenever we go outside

By Chiu Yu-Tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Because ultraviolet (UV) radiation has increased dramatically this month and will continue at high levels next month, people should avoid engaging in outdoor activities without protecting themselves from the sun, the Environmental Protection Administration advised yesterday.

EPA officials said that the 14 radiation monitoring stations around the country have measured dangerous UV levels many times this month and last month. According to statistics released yesterday by the administration's Environmental Monitoring and Data Processing Bureau, the 14 stations recorded 90 instances of UV radiation reaching dangerous levels around the country. So far this month, the total number of instances is 128.

The UV index is a calculation of the amount of ultraviolet light expected to reach the earth's surface when the sun is highest in the sky on a given day. The higher the index, the faster UV radiation damages the skin and eyes. In Taiwan, the UV Index ranges from 0 to 15. The administration considers UV levels that exceed 10 to present a very high risk to people who are exposed to the sun without protection.

Administration officials said yesterday that from July 1 to July 29, UV levels higher than 10 were measured on 18 days in Sanyi township, Miaoli County. Meanwhile, dangerous levels of UV radiation were measured on 16 days in Changhua County and Hengchuen township in southern Taiwan.

"Based on past statistics, residents will be further threatened by UV radiation in August. People have to be aware of this," Shieh Ping-fei (謝炳輝), a section chief with the bureau, told the Taipei Times yesterday.

Hsieh said that senior citizens and children should avoid carrying out outdoors activities between 10am and 2pm during the summer.

"For those who have to be outdoors in the midday sun, taking precautions is necessary," Hsieh said.

Tips to reduce exposure to UV radiation while outdoors include wearing protective clothing, applying sunscreen liberally and taking shelter in the shade.

The 37.7?C recorded yesterday in Taipei at 1:30pm was the highest temperature recorded so far this year.

According to the Central Weather Bureau, the city's temperature reached what was then a high for the year of 36.7?C on Thursday. Bureau officials said that the average high temperature this month has been 33.6?C.

Weather forecasters said yesterday that today and tomorrow would continue to be hot around the nation. However, mountainous areas in the west of the country might see heavy rain.

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