Sun protection is in Australians’ hands with the SunSmart Global UV app, which provides users with local UV forecasts.

Launched in Melbourne by SunSmart this week, the free app aims to reduce skin cancer rates, as well as UV-related eye and sun damage, by providing users with daily sun protection times and 7-day weather and UV forecasts specific to their location. 

The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency’s (ARPANSA) Assistant Director EMR and UVR Exposure Assessment, Dr Stuart Henderson, said he hopes that checking the app will become a daily habit for users, much like remembering to ‘Slip, Slop, Slap, Slide and Shade’.

‘Evidence shows personal habits in relation to sun exposure, including sunscreen use, clothing choice and time spent outdoors, are the most important individual risk factors for UV radiation damage,’ Dr Henderson said.

‘Protecting Australians from the harmful effects of UV radiation is a core part of ARPANSA’s role. The SunSmart Global UV app is an important resource that to inform and empower people to ensure they protect themselves during times of higher UV exposure,’ he said.  

Two out of three Australians will develop some form of skin cancer during their lifetime, which equates to 2,000 deaths every year.

Crucially, this disease is almost entirely preventable with effective sun protection.

‘ARPANSA recommends that sun protection is used whenever the UV Index reaches 3 or above. As the UV Index regularly reaches Very High and Extreme levels through much of the year in Australia, having access to easy-to-use and timely information and alerts through the app will help people better protect themselves and their families from the harmful effects of sun exposure,’ he said.  

App users can also choose to customise alerts for specific times or when sun protection is recommended to take the guesswork out of when to use sun protection.

The app also includes a guide on how best to protect yourself during these times.

Head of Prevention at Cancer Council Victoria, Adjunct Associate Professor Craig Sinclair is urging all Australians to download the SunSmart Global UV app to identify the UV times of the day that puts them at risk of skin damage.

‘We want people to use UV and sun protection times to help guide behaviours, and not rely on the temperature, as you can’t see or feel UV radiation, the damage is often being done before it’s noticed’, Mr Sinclair said.

The app’s development was led by Cancer Council Victoria (CCV) in partnership with ARPANSA, the Bureau of Meteorology and Deakin University’s Applied Artificial Intelligence Institute (A2I2). The app has also been launched internationally with the support of the World Health Organization, the United Nations Environmental Programme, the International Labour Organization and the World Meteorological Organization.

The SunSmart Global UV app also provides hourly UV forecasts for over 2,500 locations across the globe and is available in eight languages including English, French, Spanish, Dutch, Chinese, German, Italian and Russian.

The SunSmart Global UV app is free to download through the Apple and Google Play app stores.

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