SunWise Program for schools
Children spend lots of time outdoors during recess, physical education classes, after-school activities, and sports programs. While some exposure to sunlight can be enjoyable and healthy, too much can be dangerous. Children need to be physically active, but must learn to protect themselves from overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. This overexposure can cause serious health effects, including skin cancer and other skin disorders, eye damage and cataracts, and immune system suppression. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. Here are some other facts about skin cancer:
Skin cancer facts
- The American Cancer Society estimates that 68,130 Americans will develop melanoma, and 8,700 will die from the disease this year. (1)
- Nearly half of all cancers in the U.S. are skin cancers. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer during their lifetime. (2)
- Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. More than two million cases are diagnosed annually in the United States. (2)
- The number of people with the most often deadly form of skin cancer, melanoma, is rising at an alarming rate. It is projected that one in 58 people born in the U.S. will be diagnosed with melanoma (3)—that’s about 20 times higher than it was for people born in 1930. (4)
- Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light is the number-one preventable risk factor for skin cancer. Taking simple steps now to prevent overexposure lowers one’s risk.
- In a majority of studies, researchers have found a positive relationship between childhood sunburns and the subsequent risk of melanoma. (5)
You can make a difference! Children need sun protection education since unprotected exposure to the sun during youth puts them at increased lifetime risk for skin cancer. One or two blistering sunburns in childhood may double the lifetime risk of developing melanoma. By educating ourselves and our children about UV-related health effects and the steps for sun protection, we can ensure a healthy future for the next generation.
More information: the science
The following brochures have basic information on UV radiation, the health effects of UV, and ozone layer depletion. You can view each brochure as a Web page or a PDF document.
You will need Adobe Reader to view some of the files on this page. See EPA's PDF page to learn more.
- UV Radiation (PDF version, 2 pp, 119K)
- Health Effects of Overexposure to the Sun (PDF version, 2 pp, 80K)
- What is the UV Index and the UV Alert? (PDF version, 2 pp, 1.5MB)
- Ozone Depletion (PDF version, 2 pp, 713K)
The following links to non-EPA sites do not imply any official EPA endorsement. EPA does not accept any responsibility for the opinions, ideas, data or products presented at those locations, or guarantee the validity of the information provided. Please see EPA's disclaimer for more information.
- American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts and Figures 2010. Available at http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content/@nho/documents/document/acspc-024113.pdf.
- American Cancer Society. Skin Cancer Facts. Available at www.cancer.org/docroot/PED/content/ped_7_1_What_You_Need_To_Know_About_Skin_Cancer.asp?sitearea=&level=.
- American Academy of Dermatology. Skin Cancer Fact Sheet. Available at www.aad.org/media/background/factsheets/fact_skincancer.html.
- Rigel, Darrell, Robert J. Friedman, M.D., Alfred W. Kopf, M.D. 1996. The Incidence of Malignant Melanoma in the United States: Issues as We Approach the 21st Century. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 34(5), 839-847. May 1996.
- Oliveria, S.A., M Saraiya, A.C. Geller, M.K. Heneghan, C. Jorgensen. 2006. Sun Exposure and Risk of Melanoma. Archives of Disease in Childhood 91:131–138. doi: 10.1136/adc.2005.086918.