In the early 1970s, environmental conservationists were becoming concerned that a reduction in the thickness of the atmospheric ozone layer would lead to increased levels of ultraviolet (UV) radiation at ground level, resulting in higher population exposure to UV and subsequent harm, especially a rise in skin cancer. At the time, no measurements had been reported on the normal levels of solar UV radiation which populations received in their usual environment, so this lack of data, coupled with increasing concerns about the impact to human health, led to the development of simple devices that monitored personal UV exposure. The first and most widely used UV dosimeter was the polymer film, polysulphone, and this review describes its properties and some of the pioneering studies using the dosimeter that led to a quantitative understanding of human exposure to sunlight in a variety of behavioral, occupational, and geographical settings.
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