Warning of sunburn and skin damage risk as ultraviolet radiation soars to high levels

Signs have been put up to remind people of social distancing guidelines around towns such as Felixst

Signs have been put up to remind people of social distancing guidelines around towns such as Felixstowe Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

High levels of UV radiation have been recorded in the UK as temperatures continue to soar during the ongoing heatwave.

The ultra violet rays, emitted by the sun, can cause sunburn and other damage to the skin – including cancer – if precautions such as using sun cream are not taken.

Forecasters predicted levels could reach a new record in the UK today, although levels peaked at seven on DEFRA’s UV index at the nearest testing station in London – while Chilton in Cornwall saw rays rise to level eight.

Most Mediterranean countries regularly experience level 10 during the summer months, although the levels in the UK rarely reach eight, which is considered “very high”.

Zoe Johnson, meteorologist at Norfolk-based Weatherquest, said lower levels of pollution during lockdown, which would usually scatter rays, have led to higher UV levels.

She said: “Currently, we are close to the summer solstice, many places have very little in the way of cloud cover, ozone levels are slightly lower than normal and pollution levels are lower than normal due to lockdown.

“It is a combination of these factors that have resulted in the high UV levels.”

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Today is officially the hottest day of the year after temperatures of 33.3C were recorded at London Heathrow Airport.

Friday is again set to be another hot day with the mercury set to rise into the high 20s and UV levels could again be high before thunderstorms hit in the afternoon.

Health minister and Bury St Edmunds MP Jo Churchill people should take simple steps to keep themselves safe.

She said: “Apply sunscreen regularly, stay hydrated, and protect your head from the sun.

“Look out for those who are vulnerable in the heat, and provide support where needed, continuing to follow social distancing guidance.”

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