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Solar UVR Exposure, Concurrent Activities and Sun-Protective Practices Among Primary Schoolchildren

Authors


*email: tony.reeder@stonebow.otago.ac.nz (Anthony I. Reeder)

Abstract

Comprehensive measures of ultraviolet radiation (UVR) exposure, concurrent activities and sun-protective practices are needed to develop and evaluate skin cancer prevention and sun protection interventions. The UVR exposures of 345 primary schoolchildren at 23 schools around New Zealand were measured using electronic UVR monitors for 1-week periods over 12 weeks in 2004 and 2005. In addition, ambient UVR levels on a horizontal surface were measured on-site at each school. Children completed activity diaries during the period UVR measurements were made and provided information on their indoor and outdoor status and clothing and sun protection worn. Mean total daily UVR exposure (7:00–20:00 h NZST + 1) at the body location where the UVR monitors were worn was 0.9 SED (standard erythemal dose, 1 SED = 100 J m−2). This was 4.9% of the ambient UVR on a horizontal surface. Mean time spent outdoors was 2.3 h day−1. Differences in children’s UVR exposure could be explained in part by activity, where outdoor passive pursuits were associated with higher UVR exposure rates than outdoor active and outdoor travel pursuits. Compared with older children, the activities of younger children, although labeled the same, resulted in different UVR exposures, either as a result of reporting differences or a real difference in UVR exposure patterns. UVR exposure rates were generally higher on weekdays compared with the weekend, confirming the important role of school sun protection and skin cancer prevention programs. High UVR exposure activities included physical education, athletics and lunch break.

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