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Proceedings Paper

Health impacts of ultraviolet radiation in urban ecosystems: a review
Author(s): Gordon M. Heisler
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Paper Abstract

This paper explores the literature on ultraviolet irradiance (UV) in urban ecosystems with respect to the likely effects on human health. The focus was the question of whether the health effects of UV radiation should be included in planning of landscape elements such as trees and shading structures. In examining the literature, special attention was given to seeking information on the question of whether it is important that shade be provided for elementary school play areas, and if so, how should it be accomplished? Before such practical questions could be dealt with, it became obvious that answers to several pertinent secondary questions had to be sought. Foremost of these was, what are the negative and positive health effects of UV exposure? Recent epidemiological findings of apparent benefits of sunlight because of vitamin-D photosynthesis and resulting anti-cancer effects make this highly relevant. Another basic question is that of trends in ozone depletion, which leads to interesting questions of long-term trends, short-term extremes, and urban influences on UV irradiance. A host of these and other pertinent questions, such as, "What is the relationship between climate of a location and dress," i.e., "How much exposure will people receive during time spent outdoors?" require much more study. Judging from current knowledge of typical spectra of solar radiation in tree shade and the difference between the action spectra for vitamin D synthesis and erythema in human skin, exposure to solar radiation in tree shade for a short period of time can be somewhat more beneficial for vitamin D synthesis and regulation than detrimental in producing sunburn.

Paper Details

Date Published: 10 September 2005
PDF: 17 pages
Proc. SPIE 5886, Ultraviolet Ground- and Space-based Measurements, Models, and Effects V, 58860M (10 September 2005); doi: 10.1117/12.620941
Show Author Affiliations
Gordon M. Heisler, USDA Forest Service (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 5886:
Ultraviolet Ground- and Space-based Measurements, Models, and Effects V
Germar Bernhard; James R. Slusser; Jay R. Herman; Wei Gao, Editor(s)

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