SPRING has arrived and western Sydney residents are being reminded to be sun smart after the Cancer Council released a survey that showed more than a third of NSW adults are still confused about what causes sunburn.
The survey found 35 per cent of adults do not realise UV radiation is the only cause of sunburn, mistakenly claiming temperature, cloud cover, wind or humidity as useful measures of sunburn risk.
Cancer Council’s Greater Western Sydney Community Engagement Manager Aruni Ratnayake said everyone in the West needs to understand it is UV that causes sunburn and is the major cause of skin cancer.
“UV radiation is an invisible danger because it’s not like the sun’s warmth, which we feel, or the sun’s light, which we can see,” Ms Ratnayake said.
“UV rays are high enough to damage our skin even on cooler days in spring, so, if we’re relying on temperature to work out whether we need to protect our skin or not, we’re making a big mistake.
UV radiation is an invisible form of energy produced by the sun and is measured on a scale from 0 to 11+. It can reach our skin directly, or can be reflected off of other surfaces, such as water, sand and concrete.
The Cancer Council recommend people cover up when UV levels reach more than 3. Ms Ratnayake said spring was an especially important time to be aware of UV exposure.
“UV levels increase rapidly to late December when they can reach extreme levels, so it is important to check your local weather forecast or the SunSmart app for the times of the day when sun protection measures are recommended.
“Remember that UV levels are not connected with maximum temperatures. At this time of year UV levels are already high enough to damage skin and it is very easy to get sunburnt by being caught unaware, especially if the day feels a bit cool,” added Ms Ratnayake.
Across western Sydney, it is predicted that 349 people will be diagnosed with melanoma this year, with 44 deaths expected.