–There is highly significant evidence that non-melanoma skin cancers are primarily due to chronic repeated exposure to solar ultraviolet radiation, and that there is a significant, although somewhat different relationship between solar radiation and the development of cutaneous malignant melanoma.
Recent experimental and epidemiologic studies show that the biologically most effective UVR wavelengths are in the segment of the solar UVR spectrum that would be significantly augmented by decreases in stratospheric ozone content.
A recent report on measurements of column ozone changes in the stratosphere has shown that in the past 18 yr, there has been an ozone decrease between 2 and 3%, greater in the winter months, and somewhat differing with latitude in the Northern Hemisphere.
Calculations of the relationship of ozone decrease to increase in biologically effective UVR show great dependence on the biologic action spectrum assumed.
Based on extensive epidemiologic studies of skin cancer incidence, it appears that the estimated increase in biologically effective UVR due to the measured ozone decreases in the past (almost) two decades are not likely to be the cause of the sharp increase in skin cancer incidence which have been observed. Most likely these increases in incidence are the result of increasing personal exposure, due to striking changes in personal behavior that have taken place for social reasons.
However, there is every reason to believe that increases in biologically effective UVR due to stratospheric ozone decreases will have significant impact on human skin cancer incidence in the future.