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Be alert, UV radiation reaching alarming proportions in state

ranchi Updated: May 06, 2014 12:46 IST
Sanjoy Dey

Be alert, if you feel skin burns, headache or eye inflammation on a brief day out nowadays. This may be ultraviolet (UV) radiation effect, which is alarming in major parts of the state including Ranchi for last few days. So, avoid direct sun heat in the noon, as Jharkhand is already burning at 39 to 42 degrees Celsius.

Two global weather agencies — Meteovista and WeatherOnline — have put Jharkhand in extreme category UV index. Their statistics suggest that state’s major cities and districts have crossed the UV index of 11.

Meteovista’s statistics of Sunday showed UV index at 11+ while observation of WeatherOnline suggests that UV index hovering around 12 for last few days. Both the agencies predicted that the situation might continue even in the next month.

Even though India Meteorological Department (IMD) raised doubts over the observations of two agencies, Birsa Agricultural University’s (BAU) study on Minimal Erythemal Dose (MED) proves that UV radiation is exceeding the permissible limit at least in the state capital.

AK Sen, director Patna Meteorological Centre, said, “The UV index provides information about the level of UV rays or ultraviolet radiation that reaches the surface. If it exceeds the permissible limit, it has definitely some harm on human body.”

The UV rays are those sun rays that can cause sunburns and long term exposure to UV rays could also cause skin cancer, cataracts and some other diseases, according to the guidebook of IMD. UV Index is divided into five categories-Low (0-2 UV Index), Moderate (3-5), High (6-7), Very High (8-10) and Extreme (11+).

Experts suggested taking all precautions including wear sunglasses, using SPF 30+ sunscreen, covering body with long-sleeve shirt and trousers and avoiding the sun from 11am to 4pm if it is at extreme category.

IMD studies about radiations but does not issue UV index on health aspect. Ashok Bakhla, IMD senior scientist, said, “We do not measure it on health perspective.”

He, however, raised doubts over the observations of global agencies. “The agencies hardly have observatory stations in India. Their observations do not qualify even the standard norms many a time. So, there is a doubt on their observations, as most of them are based on estimation.”

Birsa Agricultural University (BAU) Ranchi has been studying the minimal erytemal dose (MED) to understand the level of radiation.

A Wadud, senior meteorological scientist of the BAU Ranchi, said, “We do not measure UV Index but study the minimal erythemal dose (MED) per hour.” MED is the amount of sun or UV exposure that body can take or sustain.

BAU study shows that UV radiation is alarming in Ranchi. “We find radiation is exceeding the standard unit limit between 11.30am and 1.30pm these days. The highest MED recorded this week is 2.2 while the standard unit of MED is one,” Wadud said. He said that this has some health impact for sure but crops are still safe from such radiation level.

Wadud blamed the depleting ozone layer as main reason for rising radiation level in Jharkhand. “Since ozone layer is depleting, radiation level is also increasing in the state,” Wadud said.