Australia is known for being ‘sun safe’ thanks to high profile campaigns highlighting the dangers of exposure to harmful UV rays and health issues related to sun damaged skin, however new research has revealed that Aussies aren’t as sun aware as people may have thought.
A new study, which was carried out by the Australian National University and New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmosphere Research, revealed there are “no ‘zero protection needed’ days in Australia” meaning people should never step outside without covering up, or lathering on some high factor lotion.
The authors also revealed that the current advice which tells us to use sun screen when the UV index reaches three or higher is incorrect and could leave people at risk of suffering sun damage, which can contribute to serious health problems such as skin cancer.
Professor Robyn Lucas, from ANU, said: “What this study shows it that when the UV Index is lower than three, it is still possible to get sunburnt. The message that you don’t need to use sun protection when the UV Index is less than three is incorrect.
“For example, if you are outdoors for a few hours on a winter’s day playing golf, it is easy to exceed the dose of UV radiation that will cause a sunburn.”
The study also found that, on average, cities like Melbourne only have two days per year where there is insufficient UV radiation to get sunburnt, with Professor Lucas adding: “Most days of the year, even as far south as Melbourne, it will be possible to get a sunburn if you stay outside most of the day.
“In essence, there are no ‘zero protection needed’ days in Australia. People have to start thinking not just about the UV Index, but also how long they are outdoors.”
The findings emerged from a study of both UV Index and total UV dose over the course of a day, leading to the conclusion that anyone who finds themselves outside for longer than just 10 or 15 minutes should be wearing sun screen or covering up any exposed skin.