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Solar UV exposure among outdoor workers in Denmark measured with personal UV-B dosimeters: technical and practical feasibility

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Kasper Grandahl, Ole Steen Mortensen, David Zim Sherman, Brian Køster, Paul-Anker Lund, Kristina Sophie Ibler, Paul Eriksen

Background: Exposure to solar ultraviolet radiation is a well-known cause of skin cancer. This is problematic for outdoor workers. In Denmark alone, occupational skin cancer poses a significant health and safety risk for around 400,000 outdoor workers. Objective measures of solar ultraviolet radiation exposure are needed to help resolve this problem. This can be done using personal ultraviolet radiation dosimeters.

Methods: We consider technical and practical feasibility of measuring individual solar ultraviolet exposure at work and leisure in professions with different á priori temporal high-level outdoor worktime, using aluminium gallium nitride (AlGaN) photodiode detector based personal UV-B dosimeters. Essential technical specifications including the spectral and angular responsivity of the dosimeters are described and pre-campaign dosimeter calibration applicability is verified. The scale and conduct of dosimeter deployment and campaign in-field measurements including failures and shortcomings affecting overall data collection are presented.

Results: Nationwide measurements for more than three hundred and fifty workers from several different professions were collected in the summer of 2016. On average, each worker’s exposure was measured for a 2-week period, which included both work and leisure. Data samples of exposure at work during a Midsummer day show differences across professions. A construction worker received high-level occupational UV exposure most of the working day, except during lunch hour, accumulating to 5.1 SED. A postal service worker was exposed intermittently around noon and in the afternoon, preceded by no exposure forenoon when packing mail, accumulating to 1.6 SED. A crane fitter was exposed only during lunch hour, accumulating to 0.7 SED. These findings are in line with our specialist knowledge as occupational physicians.

Conclusions: Large-scale use of personal UV-B dosimeters for measurement of solar ultraviolet radiation exposure at work and leisure in Denmark is indeed feasible from a technical and practical viewpoint. Samples of exposure data shown support the presumption that the Danish campaign UV-B dosimeter measurement dataset can be used to sum and compare exposure between groups of professions with reliable results to be used in future analysis with clinical as well as epidemiological/questionnaire data. This was despite some dosimeter failures and shortcomings.
Original languageEnglish
Article number119
JournalBioMedical Engineering Online
Volume16
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
ISSN1475-925X
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 10 Oct 2017

    Research areas

  • Ultraviolet exposure, UV-B dosimetry, Occupational skin cancer, Danish outdoor workers, Technical and practical feasibility

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