INADEQUATE shade structures at pools, playgrounds and parks may be putting Queensland kids at increased risk of skin cancer, according to new national research.
A study by the Australian Radiation Protection, Nuclear Safety Agency and Cancer Council last year found very few shade structures surveyed at toddler wade pools in swimming centres offered sufficient sun protection (defined as Protection Factor (PF 15)).
The study was conducted in Melbourne, Victoria, however lead researcher Peter Gies said the results were applicable in Queensland.
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Cancer Council Queensland has called on State and local governments to ensure all outdoor recreational areas in Queensland have adequate shade cover to best protect children from the sun.
Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said adequate public shade structures were imperative in reducing Queensland’s skin cancer rates.
“Because of Queensland’s record UV levels, it’s crucial that Queenslanders use all forms of sun protection, including seeking shade, all year round,” Ms Clift said.
“Seeking shade can reduce your overall UV exposure by up to 75 per cent – it’s not 100 per cent protection.
“Even if you spend the day in the shade, it’s vital you also Slip on protective clothing, Slop on minimum SPF30 broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen, Slap on a broad-brimmed hat and Slide on wrap-around sunnies when out and about.
“To be effective, shade needs to fall in the right place at the right time, be the right size to provide effective protection from direct and indirect UV radiation, and be made of the right materials.
“To give best protection from the sun, shade cloths in particular should have an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) of 50+.
“Is there is no UPF rating, look for a protection rating closing to 100 per cent, and choose shade cloth made from closely woven or dense material, or material that is a darker colour.”
Cancer Council is urging State and local governments to ensure all public outdoor recreational areas in Queensland have adequate shade cover to reduce skin cancer rates in the long-term.
“Whether it’s a permanent structure, demountable shade, awnings, shade sails or portable shade – we need to ensure public shade offers sufficient sun protection all year round.”
Sun protection is required when the UV Index is 3 and above. In Queensland, the UV Index is 3 and above all year round, so Cancer Council Queensland encourages sun protection through every season.
More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available via Cancer Council Helpline 13 11 20 or www.cancerqld.org.au.