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Environmental and Workplace Health

Ultraviolet Radiation

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation comes from natural sources (the sun) and artificial sources (like welding equipment, lasers, tanning equipment and certain lamps).

Some uses of UV include:

  • it can be used to kill germs
  • it can treat various skin conditions
  • it helps us form vitamin D3 in our bodies.

But as with all forms of radiation, there are risks involved with UV. Overexposure to UV has been linked to the following negative health effects:

  • sunburns
  • premature skin aging
  • skin cancer
  • eye problems
  • weakening of the immune system

It is important to protect yourself when exposed to either natural or artificial UV. Avoid using tanning beds and sun lamps. When outdoors, find shade, cover up and wear sunscreen, especially between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. or when the UV Index is 3 or higher. This applies on both sunny and cloudy days, since up to 80% of the sun's rays can get through light cloud, mist and fog.

Health Canada's Role

Health Canada's Consumer and Clinical Radiation Protection Bureau assesses, monitors and helps reduce health and safety risks from radiation emitting devices and other sources of radiation, including tanning equipment.

Also, Health Canada has partnered with Environment Canada to create the UV Index Sun Awareness Program. This program helps elementary and high school teachers teach their students how to use the UV index, so they can protect themselves from the harmful effects of the sun.

For More Information

Ultraviolet Radiation and Safety

  • Tanning Beds and Lamps
    Read more about the risks of using tanning beds, and how to protect yourself.
  • UV Index Sun Awareness Program
    Learn about the program and find sun safety activities for kids.
  • Sun Safety
    Find out how to protect your family from the sun and teach children about the UV Index. Includes a sun safety video.
  • Tanning Products
    Learn more about tanning products, including sunscreen and sunglasses.

UV Safety and Tanning Fact Sheets

Questions and Comments

For more information about ultraviolet radiation and tanning equipment: