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Ultraviolet radiation (UVR)

UVR protection

To create an environment that reduces exposure to UVR:

  • Provide protection at the sides of shelters using solid barriers including toughened glass, louvers, overhangs or vegetation.
  • Consider the size of a shade barrier and the position of the users underneath it. Choose materials that help reduce the overall level of scattered and reflected UVR in the environment.
  • Avoid off-loading reflections onto other people and neighbouring places.

When choosing materials, consider:

  • Density – hard surfaces such as paving reflect higher levels of UVR than softer surfaces such as grass or soil.
  • Surface finish – smooth surfaces such as glass, aluminium sheeting or smooth concrete will reflect higher levels of UVR than coarse surfaces such as unpainted timber cladding, terracotta tiles, roughened concrete or brick paving.
  • Surface colour – lighter colours will reflect higher levels of UVR than darker colours. Limit reflective ground surfaces such as white concrete and white sand. When choosing surface finishes for walls and eaves, use matt and darker colours.

UVR exposure

Solar UVR can reach you on the ground from 3 sources:

  • Directly from the sun
  • Scattered from the open sky
  • Reflected from the environment.

This means that you can still receive substantial UVR exposure, even when shaded from direct sun. UVR is scattered and reflected by various environments, such as light-coloured concrete, snow, sand, water, and particles in the atmosphere.

Diagram showing how UVR is reflected from the sun or surrounding objects

Source: Shade for sports fields, Planning sun-safe outdoor environments in Queensland (page 53).

UVR reflectance levels of common materials

This table shows UVR reflectance of various landscapes and common materials measured during a Queensland summer:

Surface

Reflectance (%)

Notes

Grass

1.1

Cricket oval, freshly mown

Artificial grass

1.9

Cricket pitch, practise nets, green in colour

Black cloth

2.5

50% cotton, 50% polyester

Painted bitumen

4.3

Multipurpose sports court

Asphalt

4.5

Aged rough roadway

Water

6.4

Swimming pool, various depths

Concrete

6.6

Footpath, aged

Beach sand

9.4

Yellow, dry, flat

White paper

12.5

Smooth, plain

White cloth

15.6

50% cotton, 50% polyester

Last updated: 20 April 2016

UVR index

The ultraviolet (UV) index is an international standard measurement of the strength of sunburn producing UV radiation at a particular time and place. Read more about ultraviolet radiation and the UVR index.