News 23.4.2024

In Finland, one must protect oneself from the sun's UV radiation from spring to autumn

Adequate protection from the sun's UV radiation would prevent four out of five cases of melanoma.
Photo: Pixabay.

The UV index describing the intensity of the sun’s UV radiation can reach the limit of protection, that is, a value of 3 throughout Finland at this time of the year. Therefore, you should now pay attention to protecting your skin and eyes from the sun’s UV radiation. Snow reflects UV radiation especially onto the face in Northern Finland in spring.

In Southern Finland, the UV index rises above the limit of protection on sunny days from mid-April to September. The limit is exceeded in Northern Finland on average from May to early August.

The sun‘s UV radiation is at its strongest in Finland on the week preceding Midsummer and a few weeks after that. The UV index in the southern parts of the country may then exceed the limit of strong radiation, i.e. the value of 6.

"Summers are likely to warm up in Finland as well, due to climate change. Heat cycles are expected to occur more often in the future, so people in Finland may be tempted to wear lighter clothing and become more exposed to UV radiation," says Kaisa Lakkala, Research Scientist at the Finnish Meteorological Institute.

According to the latest studies, the severity of heat waves and the amount of solar radiation may also increase in summer.

Melanoma continues to become more common in Finland

Exposing the skin to large amounts of UV radiation and getting sun burns increases the risk of skin cancer. According to the statistics of the Finnish Cancer Registry, 1028 men and 811 women became ill with melanoma in 2023. About 94% of people diagnosed with melanoma will still be alive after five years.

"The incidence of melanoma has increased rapidly in the 2000s, by just under 5% per year. According to estimates, melanoma is expected to affect nearly 3,000 people in Finland every year in the future," says Karri Seppä from the Cancer Research Institute of the Cancer Registry of Finland.

Adequate protection against UV radiation would prevent four out of five cases of melanoma.

Building shady areas helps with sun protection

People often think that sun protection is the responsibility of the individual, although society can also contribute to the protection of citizens.

"Shade is an effective means of reducing UV exposure, as UV radiation in the shade can be up to 50% lower than under a clear sky," says Anne Höytö, Senior Specialist at the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority.

Municipalities and private operators can promote sun protection by building shady areas in existing and new outdoor areas. It is particularly important to increase shade in areas favoured by children and young people, such as daycare centres and school yards, playgrounds and sports grounds, although outdoor areas for the older population should not be forgotten.

It is especially important to protect children and young people from too much sun, as their skin protection mechanisms are still developing. The most important risk factors for skin cancer are repeated skin burns, especially in childhood and adolescence, as well as high exposure of the skin to UV radiation during one’s lifetime. In addition to parents, it is important for early childhood education and school professionals to take sun protection into account as part of everyday life.

"Sun protection is not just a matter of beach days, but should be taken into consideration in all everyday activities, from outdoor recreation to gardening and outdoor play to camping. The same basic guidelines apply to the skin protection of children and adults: shade, clothing and sunscreen. The skin should primarily be protected with shade and clothing. For extra protection, a sunscreen with a sun protection factor of at least 30 should be chosen. In addition, outdoor activities should be scheduled for the morning, late afternoon or evening when UV radiation is weaker," says Heidi Löflund-Kuusela, Manager, Health Promotion, cancer organisations.

More information:

UV index forecast

UVUV radiationSun