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What Is a UV Monitor?

A UV monitor uses skin tone and sun protection factor (SPF) to calculate how long an individual can safely stay in the sun.
For some people with sensitive skin, excessive exposure to the sun's UV rays can trigger a rash, hives, or other allergic reaction.
UV monitors might help a person decide how much time to spend outside in the sun.
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  • Written By: R. Kayne
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 22 November 2014
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A personal UV monitor is a digital device that reads the level of ultra violet (UV) radiation reaching the monitor, then determines how long one can remain exposed before burning. Most models incorporate a timer or countdown clock that sounds an alarm when it’s time to go inside. A UV monitor will help to determine how long one can enjoy the sun before harmful effects of overexposure become a problem.

Enjoying the outdoors is part of any healthy lifestyle, and the sun has positive effects like creating vitamin D in the body and improving disposition. Let’s face it, getting outside just feels good. However, it’s exceedingly easy to lose track of time, spending too much time in the sun. Overexposure to UV radiation can cause painful sunburn, premature aging of the skin, and increase the chances for diseases like skin cancer. A personal UV monitor can remind you when to get out of the sun, making it an invaluable part of anyone’s personal arsenal for healthy living.

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Prior to using a UV monitor, the user enters two key parameters: skin type and an SPF factor. The average monitor includes settings for one of four skin types ranging from fair to dark. Next, an SPF setting is chosen that corresponds with the level of sun block that is being worn. A Level 1 setting would indicate that no sunblock is being used, with settings ranging between 1 and 70 to cover all types of sunblock products. Some monitors include a locking mechanism to prevent these settings from being accidentally changed.

Once skin type and SPF is entered, the unit uses the current UV intensity reading to calculate how long the user can safely enjoy the sun. A push of a button starts the countdown timer. If UV intensity fluctuates during the countdown period, the unit will re-calculate the time and adjust the alarm accordingly. The countdown alarm can also be used independently of the UV function for other purposes, and can be set for up to 39 hours and 59 minutes, depending on the unit.

The personal UV monitor is pocket-sized and most units come with a wrist strap. The case is made from durable plastic and can be either splash proof or water resistant, depending on the model. The face features a monochrome LCD readout that includes the time of day in a 12-hour or 24-hour format, the UV index (UVI) dynamically monitored, and temperature in Fahrenheit or Centigrade.

A UV monitor is useful for anyone, including parents with children or for those with skin conditions that make timed exposure even more critical. It is also handy when vacationing, as it’s not only easier to lose track of time, but is sometimes more difficult to judge sun exposure in unfamiliar climates. Once your skin feels burned, it’s too late to protect yourself.

The best thing about a personal UV monitor is that it’s so highly affordable, costing about $20 US Dollars (USD), or less.

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