Ultra high UV levels hitting Saigon, experts warn

By Le Phuong, Phan Anh   February 17, 2019 | 10:20 pm PT
Ultra high UV levels hitting Saigon, experts warn
Motorbike drivers shield themselves with face masks and sweaters in Saigon. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Nguyen
Saigon residents face the risk of burned eyes and skin even after brief exposure to the sun, doctors caution.

Consistently high UV levels have been hitting Saigon in recent days, posing a serious health threat to its residents.

In February, the UV Index in the southern city has consistently been rated 10 or above, indicating ‘very high’ or ‘extreme’ level of ultra violet radiation under U.N. standards, the Southern Regional Hydrometeorology Center has reported.

Weather Online, a U.K.-based meteorological service firm, also reported similar UV levels in the city from late January, with a peak UV level of 13 on February 8.

Health experts say such UV levels could pose several health risks, including skin cancer.

"When exposed to too much sunlight, the skin can get burnt, become dry, lose its elasticity, accelerate aging and may even cause skin cancer," said Nguyen Trieu Vu, head of the Oncology Department at the Thu Duc District Hospital in Saigon.

The city is undergoing one of the most severe heat waves in this year’s dry season, with temperatures reaching 35-36 degrees Celsius at peak hours from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m., according to the hydrometeorology center. Saigon’s dry season is expected to last at least until early May.

Experts have advised residents to wear sunscreens, sunglasses and brimmed hats, among other measures.

The UV Index is an international standard measurement of the strength of ultraviolet radiation from the sun. It is designed as an open-ended linear scale, directly proportional to the intensity of UV radiation. An UV Index of between 0 and 3 is considered ‘low’, and above 11 is considered ‘extreme.’

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