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J Photochem Photobiol B. 2009 Apr 2;95(1):9-16. doi: 10.1016/j.jphotobiol.2008.11.014. Epub 2008 Dec 24.

On the relationship between erythemal and vitamin D action spectrum weighted ultraviolet radiation.

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1
Environment Canada, 4905 Dufferin St., Toronto, Ontario, Canada M3H 5T4. Vitali.Fioletov@ec.gc.ca

Abstract

Erythemally weighted solar ultraviolet (UV) radiation is often used to characterize the production of vitamin D in a human body. However, the vitamin D production action spectrum is different than that for erythemal UV. The vitamin D action spectrum weighted UV is more sensitive to UV-B, while the erythemal UV action spectrum has higher weighting coefficients than the vitamin D action spectrum in the UV-A part of the spectrum. Therefore, by using the erythemal UV as an estimate for the vitamin D action spectrum weighted UV can give results that differ by up to a factor of 5. This study examines the relationship between erythemal and vitamin D action spectrum weighted UV radiation using measurements of spectral UV at the surface by Brewer spectrophotometers that are part of the US and Canadian observational networks. It is shown that the ratio of vitamin D action spectrum weighted UV to erythemal UV is nearly constant for high levels of UV (UV Index greater than 5.5) and therefore vitamin D action spectrum weighted UV can be described in terms of erythemal UV. For lower levels of UV though this relationship should not be used. A simple formula that calculates vitamin D action spectrum weighted UV from UV Index is developed. An empirical formula that expresses the ratio of vitamin D action spectrum weighted UV to erythemal UV as a function of the solar zenith angle and column ozone is also suggested. The geographical distributions of vitamin D action spectrum weighted UV in the US and Canada are discussed.

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