Agent Name

Radiation, solar and ultraviolet

Major Category





The sun is the major source of ultraviolet radiation (UVR), divided into UVC (100-280 nm), UVB (280-315 nm) and UVA (315-400). Of the solar UVR reaching the earth, 95% is UVA, and 5% is UVB. UVC is filtered out by the atmosphere. [Reference #1]


Workers exposed to sunlight and UVR include outdoor workers, welders, and workers exposed to germicidal UV light, lasers, and drying/curing processes. [LaDou, p. 137-8] See the TLVs for workers exposed to ultraviolet radiation from "arcs, gas and vapor discharges, fluorescent and incandescent sources, and solar radiation" to prevent burns and photokeratitis. [ACGIH]


Solar radiation is a known occupational carcinogen (outdoor workers) associated with increased risk for malignant melanoma and other skin cancers. [Siemiatycki, p. 326] UVR can also cause photokeratoconjunctivitis (welder's flash), cataracts, skin burns, and both photoirritant and photoallergic contact dermatitis (PICD and PACD). [LaDou, p. 185] Basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas of the skin, but not melanoma, correlate with cumulative exposure to UV light; Wald, p. 245-6] "Two observations from epidemiological studies may help explain the paradox of the lack of association of melanoma with chronic sun exposure. First, outdoor workers are not at a substantially increased risk of melanoma; second, outdoor workers tend to have a higher-than-average ability to develop a tan. Outdoor workers tend to be constitutionally protected from solar skin damage and at a lower risk of skin cancer than workers in other occupations because of self-selection based on skin pigmentation." [Reference #1] See chemicals, drugs, plants, and foods in this database that can cause photoirritant and photoallergic contact dermatitis.

Reference Link

IARC 2012: Solar and Ultraviolet Radiation

Exposure Assessment
Explanatory Notes

See the detailed tables in "Threshold Limit Values for Chemical Substances and Physical Agents." [ACGIH]

Reference Link

NTP: Ultraviolet Radiation Related Exposures

Adverse Effects

Skin Burns

IARC Carcinogen

Known Carcinogen

NTP Carcinogen

Human Carcinogen

Links to Other NLM Databases
Toxicity Information


Related Information in HazMap

Occupational diseases associated with exposure to this agent: