UV monitor set up on Stormont roof
Specialist kit to monitor the sun's harmful rays has been installed in Northern Ireland for the first time.
The UV radiation monitor erected on the roof of Dundonald House, one of the tallest buildings in the Stormont estate, will track trends in the sun's strength, intensity and duration.
Health Minister Edwin Poots said the new technology would help raise awareness about skin cancer.
He said: "Overexposure to UV rays is widely accepted as the underlying cause for skin cancer. Over time, the data collected from the monitor will inform our understanding of the likely impacts on skin cancer rates as well as eye disorders, such as cataracts and suppression of the body's immune system.
"It will also enable us to monitor trends to help underpin future climate change strategies.
"UV exposure also has some beneficial effects, such as vitamin D synthesis. The data we collect has the potential to assist other areas of research in Northern Ireland."
Information from the solar monitor will also be made publicly available on the Health Protection Agency (HPA) website.
It brings Northern Ireland into line with other regions in the UK.
Dr John O'Hagan, head of the Laser and Optical Radiation Dosimetry Group at the HPA said: "A solar UV monitoring network has been run by scientists at the Health Protection Agency since 1990 - until now we've not sited a monitoring station in Northern Ireland.
"We are delighted to be able to extend that network to Northern Ireland and will soon be able to offer people almost real time information on UV levels through a dedicated webpage."