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Solar ultraviolet radiation is the primary risk factor for skin cancers and sun-related eye disorders. Estimates of individual ambient ultraviolet irradiance derived from ground-based solar measurements and from satellite measurements have rarely been compared. Using self-reported residential history from 67 189 persons in a nationwide occupational US radiologic technologists' cohort, we estimated ambient solar irradiance using data from ground-based meters and noontime satellite measurements. The mean distance moved from city of longest residence in childhood increased from 137.6 km at ages 13-19 to 870.3 km at ages ≥65, with corresponding increases in absolute latitude difference moved. At ages 20/40/60/80, the Pearson/Spearman correlation coefficients of ground-based and satellite-derived potential solar ultraviolet exposure, using irradiance and cumulative radiant exposure metrics, were high (=0.87-0.92). There was also moderate correlation (Pearson/Spearman correlation coefficients = 0.51-0.60) between irradiance at birth and at last-known address, for ground-based and satellite data. Satellite-based lifetime estimates of ultraviolet radiation were generally 14-15% lower than ground-based estimates, albeit with substantial uncertainties, possibly because ground-based estimates incorporate fluctuations in cloud and ozone, which are incompletely incorporated in the single noontime satellite-overpass ultraviolet value. If confirmed elsewhere, the findings suggest that ground-based estimates may improve exposure assessment accuracy and potentially provide new insights into ultraviolet radiation-disease relationships in epidemiologic studies.

Original publication




Journal article


Photochem Photobiol

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