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Got a Smartphone? EPA Has Launched an App to Keep You Safe in the Sun

2010 June 1

Growing up outside of Baltimore in the late 70s, I spent the summers at the pool, cutting lawns in the neighborhood without a shirt, and riding my bike for hours. I’m paying for it now. I’ve had seven basal cell carcinomas (the least dangerous skin cancer) removed in the past five years, including three from my forehead. I’ll be going to a dermatologist twice a year for the rest of my life. You know that young men like to compare scars – well, add my childhood scars to my skin cancer scars, and I can top anyone.

After spending many years working on waste reduction issues, I came over to a part of EPA that works on healing the ozone layer and teaching kids how to be SunWise. The ozone layer acts as a kind of sunscreen for the Earth, so while it’s healing, we want to prevent skin cancer by teaching kids, their teachers and parents how to be safe in the sun.

We’ve been using the UV Index for years to forecast the strength of the sun’s UV rays—the higher the Index, the more important it is to be sun safe. Just this year, we developed a UV Index widget and put the Index on Facebook. So, you can check your friends’ status and the sun’s, and plan for a SunWise day.

Now we’re making it even easier for you to check the UV Index when you’re on the go with EPA’s smartphone applications. Of course, we’re hoping people download these free applications on their mobile phones.

I still enjoy the outdoor activities I did as a kid – especially biking – and am proud of my small collection of really nice Italian bikes. What has changed is that I am now SunWise and take better care of my skin. A lot of people are SunWise nowadays, too – including my kids. With tools like the smartphone applications, we are making it easier for folks to be smart in the sun.

About the author: Robert Burchard is a program analyst for EPA’s Stratospheric Protection Division in the Office of Air and Radiation. Robert is known for wearing his bike jerseys around the office and for speeding full-force ahead with anything technology-related, particularly when it’s about sun safety.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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22 Responses leave one →
  1. Tanya permalink
    June 1, 2010

    So how do i get the SunWise app for my smart phone?

  2. armansyahardanis permalink
    June 1, 2010

    Oh Robert, I am salute for your spirit of your life. Rarely, the human, like you. If they are suffering anything, they always angry to their environment, maybe this, or that, ya-, negative thinking…. However, we need something entertainment for protect environment, like smartphone….

  3. Robert Burchard permalink
    June 2, 2010

    For all mobile apps (BB, Android, and mobile web), from your mobile device go to:

  4. Erik permalink
    June 2, 2010

    this is a fantastic program and shows the power of what government can do – robert you’re a dedicated public servant!

  5. Joy-Marie permalink
    June 3, 2010

    I love this idea! As an esthetician, I’ve been teaching clients, friends, family and strangers about Safe Sun strategies and this will be a great app for me to send them now. I am currently back in college, at 58, working on a degree in Environmental Studies and I’d be very interested in working for the EPA in this capacity, teaching the public about sun protection. Any ideas for me to pursue this now that I see you are doing this with them?! I find that many times people just start rolling their eyes when I get off on my song and dance about spf, skin cancer, mole check ups, kids learning young how to put their protection on…

  6. Michael E. Bailey permalink
    June 6, 2010

    This is a great public health program. I hope it will be a great success. Getting the information out by cell phone will reach a large number of people. Are you doing public service announcements to let people know it is there? Don’t stop using the other avenues of communicating this important information though, because there are many people,including many in the disability community who need the access to the information but don’t have a cell phone. Best wishes, Michael E. Bailey.

  7. David Lynch permalink
    June 6, 2010

    They have really got it right here good program.

  8. Robert permalink
    June 8, 2010

    Mr. Bailey,

    I’m interested in your ideas for how we might reach out to the disability community. Thanks.

  9. Ethan Madison, Jr. permalink
    July 15, 2010

    I think your innovation will give opportunity to kids now to enjoy outdoors like we did in the past

  10. Ronnie Williams permalink
    August 9, 2010


    awesome work. i feel luck i have got a smartphone. bc i can download the app on my cell.


  11. Ronnie Williams permalink
    August 9, 2010


  12. Mike Jordan permalink
    September 16, 2010

    For me, the smart phone applications work more than I expected … It is just awesome, beyond words. The best part is that our children now have the access to technology which we, in our childhood couldn’t even dream of.

  13. Smartphone permalink
    September 20, 2010

    Wow this is a great idea! I am going to download this app on my smartphone.

  14. Steve Wright permalink
    October 25, 2010

    Hey Tanya,

    I found where you can apply for the EPA’s UV Index App. here;
    Enjoy ;-)

  15. wayne shemwell permalink
    December 12, 2010

    great post very informative, thanks

  16. permalink
    December 22, 2010

    I agree with you, your option is in-depth knowledge so much. Wish to get more knowledge from you.

  17. VN Index permalink
    April 3, 2011

    Excellent post, well written.

  18. andrew permalink
    April 13, 2011

    rare are the people who inspire themselves from their own problems and try to make others avoid going through the same sufferings the did, i salute you man.

  19. andrew permalink
    April 13, 2011

    great job

  20. Alex Thompson permalink
    December 4, 2012

    You have a huge talent in writing articles, you have just attracted towards your article by your article name. Great idea!. These information are well enough to understand the blogging ideas. I much appreciate it.

    Alex Thompson

  21. aashton permalink
    February 13, 2013

    So glad this internet thing works and this article helped. Might take you up on the home advice sometime. Perhaps a guest appearance here? To download latest mobile apps and software visit

  22. permalink
    May 12, 2013

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