Health Library

Health Library

UV (Ultraviolet) Exposure Categories

What is the UV Index?

In response to the increasing incidence of skin cancer, cataracts, and other effects from exposure to the sun's harmful rays, the National Weather Service and the EPA collaborated on a sun-awareness information program. An important part of this program is the UV Index.

The Index is a next-day forecast that estimates the amount of ultraviolet radiation that will reach the earth's surface, providing important information to help you prevent overexposure to the sun's rays. The Index also includes the effects of cloud cover on the anticipated UV exposure level for the next day.

What are the UV exposure categories?

Index values

Exposure categories

0 - 2

Low . An index reading of 2 or less means low danger from the sun's UV rays for the average person. But if you burn easily, cover up and use sunscreen with at least SPF (sun protection factor) 15.

3 - 5

Moderate . An index reading of 3 to 5 means a moderate risk of harm. Take precautions if you will be outside. Stay in shade near midday.

6-7

High . An index reading of 6 to 7 means you may be at high risk of harm from unprotected exposure to the sun. Cover up and wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses. Wear sunscreen with at least SPF 15, as protection against sunburn is needed. Reduce time in the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

8-10

Very High . An index reading of 8 to 10 and above means you are at a very high risk of harm from unprotected sun exposure. Take extra precautions. Minimize exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Cover up and wear a hat and sunglasses. Wear at least SPF 15 sunscreen.

11 +

Extreme . An index reading of 11 and above means you are at extreme risk of harm from unprotected sun exposure. Follow all of the above suggestions to protect yourself from the sun.

UV Exposure Categories - WellSpan Health

Online Medical Reviewer: Alteri, Rick MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Stump-Sutliff, Kim, RN, MSN, AOCNS
© 2014 WellSpan Health. All Rights Reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

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