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Solar UV Measured under Built-Shade in Public Parks: Findings from a Randomized Trial in Denver and Melbourne

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posted on 2023-07-17, 23:39 authored by Suzanne Jane Dobbinson, David Bard Buller, James Andrew Chamberlain, Jody SimmonsJody Simmons, Mary Klein Buller
Reducing exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UV) is crucial for preventing UV-induced diseases of the skin and eyes. Shade may offer significant protection from UV. More empirical research to quantify the UV protection offered from built shade is needed to guide disease prevention practices and confidence in investment in shade. This study quantified UV levels under built-shade relative to unshaded passive recreation areas (PRAs) over summer months in parks in two cities. In a randomized controlled trial, n = 1144 UV measurements were conducted at the center and periphery of PRAs in a total sample of 144 public parks as part of pretest and posttest measures of use of the PRAs by park visitors for three recruitment waves per city during 2010 to 2014. Following pretest, 36 PRAs received built-shade and 108 did not. Regression analyses modelled pre-post change in UV (Standard Erythemal Dose (SED) per 30 min) at PRAs; and environmental predictors. Mean UV at the center of built-shade PRAs decreased from pretest to posttest (x¯ = 3.39, x¯ = 0.93 SED), a change of x¯ = -3.47 SED relative to control PRAs (p < 0.001) adjusting for the covariates of ambient SED, (cosine) solar elevation and cloud cover. Clouds decreased and solar elevation increased UV levels under shade. No significant differences in UV by shade design occurred. A substantial reduction in exposure to UV can be achieved using built-shade with shade cloth designs, offering considerable protection for shade users. Supplementary sun protection is recommended for extended periods of shade use during clear sky days.


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International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health





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© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (

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