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Keeping an eye on the sky

Monitoring the sunís rays will form part of a strategy to raise awareness and understanding of skin cancer in Northern Ireland.
Monday, 25 March 2013

Health Minister Edwin Poots today announced the installation of a special Ultraviolet radiation (UV) monitor on the roof on Dundonald House in the Stormont Estate, Belfast.

The Minister said: “This UV monitor is the first of its kind in Northern Ireland and forms part of a UK-wide network. The monitor will track trends in the sun’s strength, intensity and duration in Belfast.

“Overexposure to UV rays is widely accepted as the underlying cause for skin cancer. Over time, the data collected from the monitor will inform our understanding of the likely impacts on skin cancer rates as well as eye disorders, such as cataract and suppression of the body’s immune system. It will also enable us to monitor trends to help underpin future climate change strategies.

“UV exposure also has some beneficial effects, such as vitamin D synthesis. The data we collect has the potential to assist other areas of research in Northern Ireland.”

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) operates the network of UV radiation monitors in Northern Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales. The data from the monitoring is to be made publically available via the HPA web site.

Dr John O’Hagan, Head of the Laser and Optical Radiation Dosimetry Group at the Health Protection Agency, said: “A solar UV monitoring network has been run by scientists at the Health Protection Agency since 1990 – until now we’ve not sited a monitoring station in Northern Ireland. We are delighted to be able to extend that network to Northern Ireland and will soon be able to offer people almost real time information on UV levels through a dedicated webpage.”

Notes to editors:

1. Photograph of the UV monitor on the roof of Dundonald house can be requested from the DHSSPS Information Office on 028 9052 0579.

2. Media queries about this press release to DHSSPS Information Office on 028 9052 0579, or out of office hours contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 076 9971 5440 and your call will be returned.