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Is there a way that I can find out what the UVA/UVB rating will be on a daily basis? Also, any explanation on what UVA/UVB is and how to get protection from it would be helpful.
Ah yes, the UVA and UVB and conundrum. UV stands for Ultra Violet. The A and B and C are the different kinds of rays in the UV spectrum. UV C rays are usually absorbed by Ozone in the stratosphere. This layer of the atmosphere where ozone lives is called the ozonosphere, it's about 6 to 20 miles above us. UV C rays are dangerous so we don't want to deplete the ozone layer above, that would be bad. The UV C wavelengths are shortest and are very dangerous.
UV B rays are the rays that are emitted from the sun. This is what's outside when we're outside sitting in the sun (with sunscreen of course) or just out and about doing errands. UV B rays are strongest in the summer with the earth's northern hemisphere is tilted toward the sun. These rays also can cause skin cancer and damage. UV B rays are more dangerous than UV A rays but BOTH are bad. There is no such thing as a safe tan.
UV A rays are rays that are still dangerous, or what is called sometimes blacklight. If you ever go to a tanning booth, that's where you can get a dose of UV A rays. UV A rays are around us in the natural atmosphere too, just put a magazine by a window for a year and see what happens to its color. These rays are responsible for premature aging and skin cancer too.
You can find out the UV index each day for your area, here in Utah it's almost always fairly high unless we have a particularly cloudy day. The UV index is calculated based on a couple of things. Forecasted Ozone, the elevation of a city, the actual forecast for clouds and incoming radiation all go into the index numbers.
Even doing errands, it's wise to put a BROAD SPECTRUM sunscreen on. You can buy face lotions with SPF in them so it's one easier step to staying safe during the day. The hours of 10 to about 4 are the strongest so if you must be out, definitely don't fry and reapply your sunblock liberally every 2 hours.
You can get the daily UV index on the link on the right and there's also a link there to help you understand the index numbers. It's also good to wear sunglasses that block UV rays as well, your eyes can get damaged being outside too.
Just remember this which a U of U doctor shared with us during a story interview. More sun equals more sun damage to your skin. More sun equals more skin cancer. So you don't really need more sun, i.e. you don't need to go looking for it, just doing your regular things will get you plenty.
Answered by KSL Meteorologist Dina Freedman.