Five facts you didn’t know about UV

Updated 3 Feb 2022.

UV app

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is the invisible killer that you can't see or feel. UV radiation can be high even on cool and overcast days. This means you can't rely on clear skies or high temperatures to determine when you need to protect yourself from the sun.

Although the sunny, outdoorsy lifestyle is one of Australia's most favourable assets, it comes at a cost, with Australia having one of the highest UV levels in the world. Exposure to UV radiation from the sun and other sources, such as solariums, is the major cause of skin cancer.

Your skin remembers and records all the UV exposure over the years which contributes to your long-term risk of skin cancer. 

With one of the highest rates of skin cancers in the world, Australia is known as the 'global skin cancer capital' - not a title we're proud of. 

What is UV?

UV radiation is an energy produced by the sun, as well as some artificial sources, such as arc welders and solariums. It may reach you directly from the sun, or bounce off reflective surfaces such as water, pavement, or even grass.

High exposure to UV radiation is linked to skin cancer, genetic damage, and immune system suppression in living organisms.

There are many common misconceptions about UV, so it is critical that we educate ourselves, as reducing our lifetime exposure to UV by 20 per cent is believed to reduce Australia's incidence of skin cancer by one third.

Five facts you didn't know about UV:

  1.  In most parts of Australia, the UV Index reaches 11 or more in the summer.
    Daily UV levels peak around midday and on clear days, are forecast to be extreme across Australia in the summer months.
  2. You get sunburnt fastest when your shadow is shortest.
    When the UV is high, the sun is also high causing it to cast a shorter shadow.
  3. UV levels are just as strong in the morning as they are in the afternoon.
    On a clear day the UV level will be the same 3 hours before midday and 3 hours after midday.
  4. UV radiation is invisible and can't be felt.
    Heat is caused by infrared radiation, not UV radiation.
  5. UV peaks at midday even though the temperatures continue to rise in the afternoon.
    UV radiation is not dependent on heat - you can have high UV even on a cool or cloudy day.

Find out your local UV level by downloading our free SunSmart app.

Australian UV level increases the further north you travel. So, when travelling don't forget to update your app location to stay updated with the local UV level.

How you can stay SunSmart

Remember it's about the UV not the temperature. 

So, when the UV level is 3 or above use a combination of sun protection measures:

  • Slip on some sun-protective clothing that covers as much skin as possible.
  • Slop on broad spectrum, water resistant SPF30 (or higher) sunscreen. Put it on 20 minutes before you go outdoors and every two hours afterwards. Sunscreen should never be used to extend the time you spend in the sun.
  • Slap on a hat - broad brim or legionnaire style to protect your face, head, neck and ears.
  • Seek shade.
  • Slide on sunglasses - make sure they meet Australian Standards.

New National Skin Cancer Prevention Campaign

Cancer Council Australia and the Department of Health recently launched a $10m National Skin Cancer Prevention campaign.

The campaign aims to reduce incidence and death of melanoma and non-melanoma by encouraging Australians to prevent harmful exposure to UV radiation. By educating Australians on the preventable nature of skin cancer, we hope to see a more SunSmart Australia.

National Skin Cancer Prevention Campaign assets on social media


Is carelessness when it comes to sun protection really worth risking your life for?

Stay safe, stay SunSmart.


For more information

• Learn more about how you can reduce your risk and be SunSmart. 


Found in:  News - 2022 | View all news