Light shines on UV radiation research


Sun worshippers may feel the burn next week as scientists and health professionals from around the world meet in Wellington to discuss the latest research on the effects of UV radiation.

UV research at Lauder Atmospheric Research Station [Photo: NIWA]

The conference, organised by NIWA, aims to update people from a range of disciplines with a professional interest in UV radiation.

NIWA scientists will discuss the latest research about ozone and UV radiation, the effects of changing UV on human health and the environment, and how future climate change may affect ozone and UV.

As well as a range of New Zealand experts, presenters from Australia, the UK, US, Europe and Japan will discuss issues ranging from advice on sun protection and exposure, standards for sun protective clothing, shade fabrics, sun beds, sunglasses to the latest technology to help spread the “SunSmart’ message.

The workshop is the latest in a series dating back to the early 1990s, when interest was piqued by the development of the Antarctic ozone hole, which raised the possibility of ozone depletion over New Zealand leading to UV increases.

Conference convenor, NIWA emeritus atmospheric radiation researcher Dr Richard McKenzie, says that “despite an apparent improvement to the ozone layer in recent years, attributed to the success of the 1987 Montreal Protocol, the ozone layer is still fragile, and recent evidence suggests that climate change may affect future recovery.

 “Regardless of ozone depletion, New Zealanders have a special interest in UV radiation because we have the world’s highest rates of skin cancer. The annual rate of melanoma deaths in New Zealand is comparable to road deaths.”

Dr McKenzie also said more than half of New Zealanders have lower than normal levels of Vitamin D in winter and the health effects of that will be discussed at the workshop.

“A major aim is to inform on improvements to the way UV information is provided to the public to optimize health outcomes. “

The workshop is on Thursday and Friday at the James Cook Grand Chancellor, and the workshop continues over the following two days. There are limited spaces for the public to attend.

Register for the workshop


Emeritus Researcher – Atmospheric Radiation