Rural Financial Counselling Service NSW
Free • Impartial • Confidential • Responsive
Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world (2 out of 3 people who were born in Australia will get some form of skin cancer) and outdoor workers, such as farm workers are at the greatest risk of developing skin cancer. The solar radiation hazard results from the effect of ultraviolet radiation which is measured in nanometers (nm). The ultraviolet radiation range consists of:
- UV-A 320-400 nm damages skin
- UV-B 290-320 nm the main cause of skin cancer
- UV-C 200-290 nm the ozone layer acts as a barrier to this level of radiation
The effect on the skin of these rays from the sun builds up over time. The signs of a mild level of damage such as mild sunburn or freckling gradually increase with exposure and can eventually lead to a skin cancer. Ultra violet rays are most damaging between 10 am and 2 pm (11 am and 3 pm during daylight saving) because the angle of the sun’s rays is shortest at those times. During winter, the infra-red rays are reduced, producing cooler temperatures but UV rays continue to damage the skin. Natural barriers to these rays are the ozone layer and cloud cover. However, skin damage still occurs with cloud cover, depending on cloud thickness. In Australia, the diminishing ozone layer is increasing the risk of skin cancer from solar radiation.