We Are Sunshine

Tasmanian Public Health Officials: Put Sunscreen Away

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

Tasmania’s Director of Public Health Tuesday advised students, parents and schools that, for health reasons, it should be ‘hats off’ until Spring in this southern hemisphere island off the coast of Australia.2008-05-07-hats-off-tanningnews-copy.jpgDr Roscoe Taylor said the ‘hats off’ policy should be implemented Statewide to boost children’s Vitamin D levels over the colder months.
For the same reason, Dr Taylor said sunscreen should also be put away until Australian spring — which corresponds with the North American autumn.

He said that schools and child care centers should suspend their usual sun protection policies for recess and lunchtime until the start of term three in September. To mark ‘hats off until term three’, Dr Taylor Tuesday joined children from grade three at Lansdowne Primary School who threw off their hats to get a healthy dose of Vitamin D while playing in the lunchtime sunshine.

Dr Taylor said that in summer most Tasmanians received adequate Vitamin D in just a few minutes through sun exposure received during typical day-to-day outdoor activities. “However in winter we need more than we are currently getting to meet healthy requirements,” he said. “The message for parents and teachers is that it’s now safe for school children not to wear hats at recess and lunchtime until the beginning of term three. And it’s the same rule for little ones in child care too.”

Tasmania’s latitude in the southern hemisphere, 42 degrees south of the equator, is approximately the northern hemisphere equivalent of Chicago.

Dr Taylor said that sun protection was important when the UV Index reached three or above, as that was the level that could cause skin damage. “However, according to the Cancer Council of Australia’s guidelines, from May to August most people who live in southern Australia do not need any sun protection because UV Index levels are not high enough to cause significant skin damage.

“For that reason, people should not compromise their vitamin D levels by being ‘sun smart’ when it’s not necessary, and that applies particularly to young children. Hats, and other forms of sun protection like sunscreen, are not generally necessary in Tasmania from now until the start of term three. It’s important that all Tasmanians get 2-3 hours of sunlight on their face, arms and hands over a week, at this time of the year.”

Taylor continued, “Vitamin D is largely created in the body as a result of skin exposure to ultraviolet radiation and is important for good bone health and the immune system. And what’s more, being active and getting outside to play in the sun is good for a child’s health in many other ways. It’s the same message for adults too — we strongly encourage everyone to get out and about in the midday sun during winter. As well as boosting Vitamin D levels, it’s great for increasing physical activity and giving your mood a lift.”