Rights: The University of Waikato Published 29 July 2008 Download

Dr Richard McKenzie, Senior Research Scientist at NIWA, Lauder, has recently started to examine the spectrum of UV emitted by sunbed lamps. Here, he reports on an early result.

Emperor Aquatics & UV Comparisons


Another way you can make vitamin D is with a sunbed, but we don't recommend that because, if you look at the spectrum of light that comes out of a sunbed, it’s so different from what you are naturally exposed to. The sunburning radiation might be similar to midday on a summer’s day, but the wavelength distribution of that can be quite different. For example, the sunbed I tested the other day, the UVA intensity from that bed is about three times more than you would ever get from any summer’s day anywhere in the world. I think it would be not wise to expose yourself to something which is very different to what happens in nature. Because our bodies, let’s face it, are developed to deal with nature, and the reason why people who live in higher latitudes have lighter skins is because there is not so much problem getting sunburned there, but they need light skins to get enough vitamin D. People, by contrast, who live near the equator need darker skins to stop themselves getting sunburned, and even though their skin is darker, there is still enough UV radiation to make vitamin D and get through that darker skin.