What is ultraviolet radiation?

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is generated from the sun and enters our atmosphere.

Even though the earth’s ozone layer reflects most of it, and cloud cover can stop it getting to the earth’s surface, some of it still reaches us.

Overexposure to UV can cause damage to skin cells and lead to skin cancer.

How the sun affects our skin depends on the type of UV radiation and the amount we’re exposed to. It also depends on our sun protection behaviours and personal skin traits.



Why is sun exposure a problem in Australia?

Because Australia is relatively close to the equator, we receive higher overall levels of UV radiation than countries such as Canada, Germany or the United Kingdom.

The amount of UV radiation our skin receives is also influenced by the sun's position in the sky. The higher the sun, the higher the levels of UV radiation.

When the UV index is 3 and above sun protection is always needed.

It’s important to remember that UV can't be seen or felt and cloud cover won’t necessarily reduce UV radiation levels. Always be prepared with sun protection even on cool and cloudy days.

More information

When the UV index is 3 and above, sun protection is always needed

Find out more about the UV index and when you should slip, slop, slap, seek and slide.

How can we avoid UV overexposure?

While we cannot control the type of UV radiation that reaches the earth's surface, we can control the amount our skin receives. Know the 5 simple ways to protect your skin from the sun.

Most Australians' lifetime exposure to UV radiation happens during childhood to young adulthood. It’s important to protect your skin throughout your life but particularly during these life stages.

The effects of sun tanning build up over your lifetime, even if you haven’t been burnt often.

Remember, while you can be outside safely in the sun, overexposure without the necessary protection can cause serious damage to your skin and eyes.