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Contribution of UVA irradiance to the erythema and photoaging effects in solar and sunbed exposures.

11 November 2015


Even though UVA irradiance had not been considered detrimental to human skin for years, nowadays it is recognized for its role in photoaging and other biological responses. The ratio UVA/UVB is about 17 at a solar zenith angle (SZA) of 20° and it is almost constant up to 60° when it rapidly increases since the UVB wavelengths (280–320 nm) are more attenuated than the UVA waveband (320–400 nm). For a constant SZA, the ratio increases with the ozone content.

The UVA component of the solar erythemal irradiance ranges from 20% at 20° to 30% at 60°, whereas it varies from 50% to 80% in the two different types of measured sunbeds. Moreover, the different spectral distribution of the lamps used for artificial tanning leads frequently to high UVA doses. The biological responses related to skin photoaging (skin sagging and elastosis) could be around fourfold the equivalent solar irradiance at midday in summer midlatitudes and they can be important in unprotected UVA exposures to sunbeds. The UVA dose accumulated during the time required in reaching 1 minimum erythemal dose (MED) increases with the SZA since the exposure durations are longer.

Indeed, seasonal differences in the mean UVA dose are observed due to variations in the ozone content that results in longer exposure times without erythema. Although an artificial tanning session is usually shorter than one hour, the UVA dose from sunbeds during the time for 1 MED for skin type II (250 Jm−2) can be 2–4 times larger than the solar dose, depending on the lamp spectral emission.


Sola, Y. and Lorente, J., 2015. Contribution of UVA irradiance to the erythema and photoaging effects in solar and sunbed exposures. Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology, 143, pp.5-11.

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