Weather wise

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The Independent Online
GOOD weather may be worse for us than bad. Winter brings disastrous floods, mudslides, tornadoes and hurricanes, but the combined toll of death and disease caused by hot weather may be worse. In the past few days good-weather warnings have come from three directions.

On Saturday the worry was smog. Hot weather and high pressure over the country caused a temperature inversion in the atmosphere that trapped polluted air. A spokesman for the National Society for Clean Air said: "Government surveys suggest between 12,000 and 24,000 people each year die because of air pollution." High smog and ozone levels can cause breathlessness, streaming eyes and runny noses.

The National Eczema Society is worried about the effects of sun on dry skin. Swimming and sunbathing can worsen the problem and sand may also be an irritant. Some eczema sufferers find sunshine improves their condition but for others summer is a mixed blessing at best.

The Cancer Research Campaign advises using a sunscreen with sun protection factor of at least 15 (allowing you to stay out 15 times as long as if you had no protection) if you want to avoid problems. They also advise a screen which will filter out UVA and UVB rays. The good news is that weather forecasters are looking into the possibility of producing a standard risk index of sunburn times. If one can be agreed, we can look forward to the inclusion in weather forecasts of suntan risk and suncream recommendations.