15 February 2024

The SunSmart Global UV app, which puts sun protection in people’s palms, is celebrating its one-year anniversary in Australia in February 2024.

The app uses forecast information from the Bureau of Meteorology and live UV data from the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) to provide sun protection times across Australia and the world said ARPANSA’s Director of Radiation Research and Advice, Associate Professor Sarah Loughran.

‘Even when UV reaches extreme levels, it can’t be seen or felt, but through the free app people receive real-time, location specific updates so they know when the UV index hits 3 sun protection is required’, said A/Prof Loughran.

‘As the Australian Government’s primary authority on radiation protection, we work with Cancer Councils of Australia to encourage sun protective behaviours like Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide – which we know is effective in preventing skin cancer.’

The app has been downloaded almost 200,000 (198,833) times in Australia, providing users with real-time UV and sun protection advice at their fingertips said Head of SunSmart Victoria, Emma Glassenbury.

‘Being outdoors in Australia means we’re exposed to some of the harshest and most dangerous levels of UV radiation in the world, and this is reflected in our skin cancer rates with more than two in three Aussies diagnosed with skin cancer during their lifetime.

‘Exposure to UV radiation is responsible for 95% of melanoma and 99% of non-melanoma skin cancers, yet too many people are unaware of what the UV level is where they are and when to cover up to prevent skin cancer,’ said Ms Glassenbury.

The app, which tailors the times of day when sun protection is recommended to any location, has the potential to save lives across the globe and sets a worldwide approach to UV reporting and public health messaging.

Recognising a UV knowledge gap, the Cancer Council Victoria’s SunSmart program, supported by ARPANSA, the World Health Organization, the United Nations Environment Programme, the International Labour Organization and the World Meteorological Organization, developed the free global app to bring users daily sun protection information.

In the lead up to Australian summer, when the UV index consistently reaches extreme levels, the app was downloaded almost 35,000 times by Aussies with close to 100,000 active users each month checking UV levels to protect themselves.

Outside of Australia, the top countries with the most app downloads are Germany (28,884), Spain (19,942), United States (11,917), Egypt (10,832) and Italy (7,735).

The SunSmart Global UV app is free for download through Apple and Google Play Stores and is available in eight languages including English, Italian, French, Spanish, German, Dutch, Chinese and Russian.

When the UV is 3 and above, ARPANSA recommends sun protective behaviour:

  • slip on some sun-protective clothing that covers as much skin as possible
  • slop on broad spectrum, water resistant SPF50 or higher sunscreen. Put it on 20 minutes before you go outdoors and every two hours afterwards
  • slap on a hat – broad brim or legionnaire style to protect your face, head, neck and ears
  • seek shade
  • slide on some sunglasses – make sure they meet Australian Standards.

For more information or to download the app, visit: https://www.sunsmart.com.au/resources/sunsmart-app

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