Ultraviolet Radiation

Characteristics of UV Radiation

Fate and Transport of UV Radiation

Monitoring UV Radiation

Exposure Pathways

Methods of Measurement of Human Exposure

Prevention of Exposure

Harmful Effects

Dose Response

Absorption, Distribution, Metabolism

Sites of Toxicity

Biomarkers of Disease

Molecular Mechanism of Action

Risk Assessment and Risk Management

5103/4104 Home

Strategies for Preventing or Controlling Exposure UV

Your UV ABC’s

Exposure to sunlight can be enjoyable, but too much can be dangerous. Overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation in sunlight can result in painful sunburn. It can also lead to more serious health effects, including skin cancer, premature aging of the skin, and other skin disorders; cataracts and other eye damage; and immune system suppression. Children are particularly at risk of overexposure, since most of the average person's lifetime exposure occurs before the age

Know the ABCDs of early detection

  • Away: Stay away from the sun in the middle of the day.
  • Block: Use a sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher to protect sensitive skin.
  • Cover up: Wear clothing that covers the skin, with hats on heads and sunglasses with UV protection over eyes.
  • Speak out: Teach others to protect their skin from sun damage.

UV Protection

  • Stay out of the sun during the peak hours of UV radiation, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Wear protective clothing:
    o Wide-brimmed hats that protect the face and neck
    o Tightly-woven clothing made of thick material, such as unbleached cotton, polyester, wool, or silk
    o Dark clothing with dyes added that help absorb UV radiation
    o Loose-fitting long-sleeved clothing that covers as much of the skin as possible
    o Clothing that has sun protection factor (SPF) in the fabric that does not wash out
  • Wear sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher summer and winter, on both cloudy and clear days:
    o SPF of 11 offers minimal protection.
    o SPF of 12 to 29 offers moderate protection.
    o SPF of 30 and above offers high protection.
  • Apply sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB to all exposed skin, including lips, ears, back of hands, and neck. Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going in the sun, and reapply it every 2 hours and after swimming, exercising, or sweating.
  • Wear wraparound sunglasses that block at least 99% of UVA and UVB radiation.
  • Be careful when you are on sand, snow, or water, because these surfaces can reflect 85% of the sun's rays.
  • Avoid artificial sources of UVA radiation, including sunlamps and tanning booths: They also can cause skin damage and increase the risk of skin cancer.

UV Protection for Children

A child's skin is more sensitive to the sun than an adult's skin and is more easily burned. Babies younger than 6 months should always be completely shielded from the sun. Children 6 months and older should wear sunscreen every day.


UV Fact Sheet

  • UV light is invisible and cannot be easily detected without a scientific instrument.
  • Even on a cloudy day, you can sunburn. In some cases, UV radiation can penetrate clouds, mist and fog.
  • Human skin is particularly affected by the sun's UV-B radiation. Exposure to UV-B results in reddening of skin and sunburn.
  • The risk of skin cancer grows with every sunburn.
  • Protecting the skin during the first 18 years of life is likely to reduce the risk of cancer by more than 50%.
  • Staying in the shade does not provide complete protection from UV radiation. A considerable amount of UV does not come directly from the sun, but is scattered by the atmosphere.
  • UV is scattered by the atmosphere to a greater degree than is visible light.
  • Physicians associate eye cataracts with UV exposure.
  • Sunburn is not connected with the sensation of heat. In fact, one can get serious sunburn in winter despite the feeling of cold.
  • Fresh snow reflects up to 80% of the sunrays. Such "snow, water and concrete mirrors" significantly increase the risk of sunburn. Skiing enthusiasts should be particularly careful to protect their eyes and exposed skin.