PRedict Solar Uv Exposure - Ground UV irradiance and 3D rendering techniques to predict anatomical solar UV exposure in Skin cancer research and prevention


Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is one of the few environmental exposures that can yield both favorable and adverse effects on human health. Low UV doses enable calcium and phosphorous metabolic regulation, vitamin D photosynthesis, and treatment of some skin conditions. Excessive UV exposure can cause cataract and premature skin aging. Mostly, UV radiation is the main causal factor for cutaneous melanoma and epithelial skin cancer. Societal and behavioral changes over the last century have led to unprecedented and steady increases in the incidence of skin cancer in Caucasian populations.Worldwide, the annual burden of skin cancer is about 13 million new cases and 60,000 premature deaths. Most deaths are from melanoma, the most lethal form of skin cancer. Epidemiological evidence supports different effects from intermittent (recreational or vacation) and chronic (occupational) exposure on skin cancer risk, although the dose-response relationship between UV exposure and skin cancer is not fully elucidated. High inter- and intra-individual (anatomical) variations in UV doses received make exposure assessment challenging and exposure data is scarce.

To address this issue, the applicants' team, gathering competencies in meteorology, 3D computing sciences, public health and exposure sciences, developed a numeric simulation tool (SimUVEx) to predict anatomical UV exposure. SimUVEx uses 3D computer graphics techniques to compute UV doses based on postural information and ambient UV measurements. It allows assessment of specific exposure scenarios, taking into account body surface inclination, orientation to the sun and shading from other body parts. In this project, applicants intend to move from individual-based to population-based exposure assessments (SimUVEx v2). 

The temporal, spatial and morphological simulation capabilities of SimUVEx will first be expanded. The meteorological model will be improved in order to provide UV irradiance data for the whole of Switzerland (eventually the whole of Europe). Radiation estimates for cloudless situations, based on radiation transfer models, will be combined with satellites retrievals to derive ground UV radiation at locations and times of interest.By combining exposure datasets and global ground irradiance data, anatomical exposure estimates under various exposure conditions, for different geographical locations and over different time periods could be produced.Outputs from SimUVEx v2 will allow exploring exposure data, building exposure scenarios (using for instance population-based survey of frequent outdoor occupations) and identifying high-risk situations with respect to over- and under-exposures to sunlight. Identifying at-risk situations and producing reference doses for common outdoor occupational and leisure activities will:

(1) improve our understanding of exposure patterns,

(2) identify potential shortcomings in current sun protection recommendations

(3) enable to assess and quantify most effective sun protection strategies, and

(4) provide exploitable data to the community for future research.