Participation in outdoor alpine sports has been increasing over the last decade. Ultraviolet exposure levels for these activities can be extreme owing to the venue altitudes. The purpose of this study was to measure the levels of UV-A and UV-B radiation exposure incurred by performance skiers in a typical alpine venue and to determine the need for protection in that environment.
Total UV-B exposure ranged from 12 to 185 mJ/cm2 (0.5-7.6 times the minimum erythemal dose [MED] for individuals with type II skin). Ten percent of subjects received more than 1 MED/h at peak exposure times. Daily UV-A exposure ranged from 10.6 to 28 J/cm2 (daily average, 0.55 minimum melanogenic dose).
Alpine skiers with skin types I and II are exposed to measurable erythemal and suberythemal levels of UV radiation repeatedly over the long term at levels that can cause photodamage to their skin and potentially increase their later risk for skin cancer. Programs should be developed to educate skiers regarding the need for UV protection. Given the high levels of exposure noted, skiers should use UV protective measures, including sun-protection factor 30 broad-spectrum sunscreen.