Quantifying environmental health impacts

Solar ultraviolet radiation: Assessing the environmental burden of disease at national and local levels

Environmental burden of disease series, No. 17

By Robyn Lucas


This guide describes how to estimate of the burden of disease caused by excessive exposure to solar ultraviolet radiation, on a regional or national level. The guide summarizes the evidence linking inappropriate exposure to ultraviolet radiation to health, and the methods for estimating its impacts on a population basis. This is done in a practical step-by-step approach that can be adapted to local circumstances and knowledge. First approximate estimates are provided by country, which can be refined with additional input data.

Human exposure to solar ultraviolet radiation has important public health implications. Skin cancer and malignant melanoma are among the most severe health effects, but a series of other health effects have been identified. Targeted public health policy can prevent such health impacts. This guide assists in estimating the extent of these impacts, which can be informative for policy making.

This guide is one in a series that describes how to estimate the burden of disease caused by environmental and occupational risk factors. An introductory volume to the series outlines the general method; subsequent volumes address methods for specific risk factors, such as outdoor air pollution, occupational noise or exposure to mercury.

A calculation tool accompanying the guide can be obtained from: EBDassessment@who.int

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