Next Article in Journal
Is Pedometer-Determined Physical Activity Decreasing in Czech Adults? Findings from 2008 to 2013
Next Article in Special Issue
A Case Study of Upper-Room UVGI in Densely-Occupied Elementary Classrooms by Real-Time Fluorescent Bioaerosol Measurements
Previous Article in Journal
Tobacco Control Progress in Low and Middle Income Countries in Comparison to High Income Countries
Previous Article in Special Issue
Beneficial Effects of UV-Radiation: Vitamin D and beyond
Article Menu

Export Article

Open AccessReview
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13(10), 1041;

UV “Indices”—What Do They Indicate?

Institute for Environmental Health, Center for Public Health, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna 1090, Austria
Institute for Meteorology, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna 1180, Austria
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Paul B. Tchounwou
Received: 31 August 2016 / Revised: 14 October 2016 / Accepted: 18 October 2016 / Published: 24 October 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue UV-Radiation: From Physics to Impacts)
Full-Text   |   PDF [565 KB, uploaded 24 October 2016]   |  


Ultra-Violet (UV) radiation covers the spectrum of wavelengths from 100 to 400 nm. The potency and biological activity for a variety of endpoints differ by wavelength. For monitoring and communication purposes, different UV action spectra have been developed. These spectra use different weighting functions. The action spectrum for erythemal dose is the most widely used one. This erythemal dose per time or dose-rate has been further simplified into a “UV index”. Following this example, in our review we use the term “index” or (plural) “indices” in a more general description for all simplified single-value measures for any biologically effective UV dose, e.g., for human non-melanoma skin cancer and for previtamin D production rate. Ongoing discussion about the existence of an increased melanoma risk due to UV-A exposure underscores the uncertainties inherent in current weighting functions. Thus, we performed an online literature search to review the data basis for these indices, to understand their relevance for an individual, and to assess the applicability of the indices for a range of exposure scenarios. Even for natural (solar) UV, the spectral composition varies spatially and temporally. Artificial UV sources and personal protection introduce further variation to the spectral composition. Many biological effects are proposed for UV radiation. Only few endpoints have been studied sufficiently to estimate a reliable index. Weighting functions for chronic effects and most importantly for cancer endpoints have been developed in animal models, and often for proxy endpoints only. Epidemiological studies on biological effects of UV radiation should not only depend on single-value weighted UV dose estimates (indexes) but should strive for a more detailed description of the individual exposure. A better understanding of the adverse and beneficial effects of UV radiation by wavelength would also improve medical counseling and health communication regarding individual health-supportive behavior. View Full-Text
Keywords: UV indices; weighting function; frequency range; health endpoints UV indices; weighting function; frequency range; health endpoints

Figure 1

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Moshammer, H.; Simic, S.; Haluza, D. UV “Indices”—What Do They Indicate? Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13, 1041.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics



[Return to top]
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health EISSN 1660-4601 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top