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Ultraviolet rays among hazards of working in Antarctic

world Updated: Nov 18, 2009 13:02 IST

Overexposure to ultraviolet rays is among the hazards of working in the harsh Antarctic environs, says a new study.

The study by the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) and Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency, found 80 percent of subjects received excess solar ultraviolet radiation (UVR), while 31 percent received more than five times the limit.

The research, undertaken during the summer of 2004-05 and 2006-07, measured sun exposure on workers unloading vessels at Australia's three Antarctic stations.

They included barge operators, ship personnel, besides scientists, who wore UVR- sensitive badges on their chests for the duration of the working day.

AAD chief medical officer Jeff Ayton said despite sun protection being provided to workers 70 percent of them reported feeling sunburnt.

"It's not only the short-term health effects like sunburn we need to worry about, we also need to think about the long term effects of UVR - such as increased risk of damage to the skin and eyes," Ayton said.

The study found that the extended duration of sunlight in Polar Regions, ozone hole and reflection off the ice and water contributed to the high levels of UVR exposure, said an AAD release.

"Research findings help us ensure we provide the most appropriate information and equipment to protect the health and safety of those living and working at our stations," AAD occupational health and safety manager Sandra Hodgson said.