Sources of UVR:
The SUN is the main source of UV radiation (UVR) reaching the Earth, but there are other sources. Most dangerous UVR is absorbed by ozone before it reaches us.
In addition to visible light and other spectrums, sunlight includes invisible ultraviolet radiation (UV-RR).
Three types of UV rays exist:
- UVA (320-400 nanometers, or one-billionth of an inch): Causes premature skin aging, wrinkling and potentially skin cancer. Penetrates skin more deeply than UVB rays. Can impact skin during any hour of daylight. Can penetrate clouds and untreated glass.
- UVB (290-320 nm): Causes sunburn; also contributes to premature skin aging and potentially to skin cancer. Causes most impact between 10am and 4pm. Can penetrate clouds, but not glass.
- UVC (200-290 nm): Deadly to humans, but is absorbed by atmospheric gases before it reaches the earth’s surface.
UV radiation is invisible and cannot be felt on the skin
The sun does not need to feel hot to damage our skin. The heat from the sun comes from infrared rays, not UV rays, so we can still burn on cool days.
Cloud conditions are important in determining the level of UVR at ground level.
However up to 80% of UV can penetrate light clouds so it is important to remember your child can still burn on a cloudy day in high summer – even in the UK.
Most UVR is received in the period 2 hours each side of the solar noon
when the sun appears highest in the sky (around 11-3pm in the UK). The intensity also varies with each season.
Up to 85% of UV rays are reflected back from light coloured surfaces
Different surfaces like concrete, water, soil, snow and grass reflect different amounts of UVR into the surrounding environment.
The Health effects of UVR
Over-exposure to the UV spectrum has been linked to skin cancer, accelerating skin aging and sunburn.
Even in mild climates, a child’s skin can burn in less than 15 minutes
Just one severe case of sunburn in a childhood significantly increases the risk of developing skin cancer in later life.
Skin cancer is now the most common form of cancer in the UK
Over the past 20 years, cases of skin cancer have doubled. In one Scottish study half the people diagnosed with skin cancer in had never been abroad. Melanoma, the most deadly type of skin cancer, is linked to repeated intense UVR over-exposures. It spreads rapidly and can be fatal if not detected early.
New research links UV exposure to cataracts later in life
UV penetrates deeply into our cells and can cause eye damage as well as sunburn. It is important that a child’s eyes are protected by a good quality sunshade or sunglasses.
Babies need some sunshine each day to produce vitamin D for the development of healthy bones and teeth.
But the amount of time a baby needs in the sun to make enough vitamin D is short and it is important to find a good balance between sun exposure and protection. Little and often is best.
Outlook® sunshades are endorsed by the Skin and Cancer Foundation Australia and every batch of UV fabric is tested by ARPANSA, the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency.