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Federal government expands measurement network for UV radiation

Measurements enable more conscious behaviour and UV prevention

Joint press release from the Federal Office for Radiation Protection and the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Conservation and Nuclear Safety

Year of issue 2018
Date 2018.08.27

Climate change is granting us more hot and sunny days – and therefore more cancer-causing UV radiation. To inform all citizens reliably about the current exposure to ultraviolet radiation, the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS) is expanding its UV measurement network.

This was announced on 27 August 2018 by Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze during her visit to the BfS site in Neuherberg near Munich. By the end of 2019, a further 20 measurement stations are to be added to the 12 already in the UV measurement network.

Greater public UV exposure as a consequence of climate change

Svenja Schulze says "UV radiation can increase as a result of climate change, which can cause greater UV exposure for the general public. We want to strengthen UV prevention. To do this, we need an effective UV measurement network across Germany. And that's what we're building."

Climate change affects UV radiation in three ways:

  • More sunny days mean more days with high UV values,
  • in spring, depending on the metrological situation in the atmosphere, mini ozone holes can occur that can allow the UV index to rise to significant levels as early as the end of March.
  • The ozone layer is apparently not recovering to the extent that was originally forecast.

This means that the UV exposure for each individual can rise and so can the risk of serious illnesses for the skin and eyes.

Inge Paulini, President of the Federal Office for Radiation Protection says "Each year more people in Germany are becoming ill with UV-related skin cancers. We want to counteract this trend by improving the prerequisites that enable people to protect themselves effectively. This also includes ensuring that people have information about current UV exposure. This is why we are expanding the existing UV measurement network – the denser the network of measurement stations, the more reliable the information on the current UV index. Reliable information is the basis for responsible behaviour in the sun."

Expansion of the national UV measurement network

For the BfS, explaining risks is an important component in protecting the population. This includes information about the prevailing UV exposure in Germany, which is indicated by the UV index. Together with the Federal Environment Agency, the German Metrological Service and other institutions, the BfS operates the UV measurement network, which is to be expanded by a further 20 stations alongside the existing 12. UV radiation will be measured here from sunrise to sunset and will be converted into the UV index by the BfS measurement network office in Neuherberg near Munich.

For many years, the BfS has been working to counteract UV-related illnesses, especially skin cancer. Calculations based on data in the Schleswig-Holstein cancer register in 2018 show that the number of new cancer illnesses has risen further. It states that in 2015 around 293,000 people were newly diagnosed with skin cancer, of which around 258,000 were fair skin cancer types and around 35,500 were malignant melanoma. This is around ten per cent more than in 2013.

Further Information

The rise in skin cancer cases is an indication that recommendations for cautious behaviour are insufficient on their own, for example avoiding strong sunlight, wearing suitable clothes and applying sun cream. Together with other partners in the UV protection association, the BfS is campaigning for changes to framework conditions. These include offering sufficient protection from UV radiation at nurseries and schools, as well as at sports facilities, in public places and at work.

The measures specified in the UV protection association policy paper should contribute to this.

UV measurement data can be found at: www.bfs.de/uv-index

State of 2018.08.27

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