Indicators at a glance – UV exposure

This section summarises the latest Environmental Health Indicators about UV (ultraviolet) exposure and health in New Zealand.

Our main exposure to UV radiation is through sunlight. UV exposure can affect our health in a number of ways:

  • Too much UV exposure can cause health problems, including melanoma, non-melanoma skin cancer, and cataracts.
  • Too little UV exposure can lead to vitamin D deficiency, which can affect bone health.
Indicator Key findings
Daily UV levels
  • UV levels are highest during summer, and in northern New Zealand.
  • UV levels are 'very high' or 'extreme' during December and January across most of New Zealand.
  • In 2015, there were 2432 melanoma registrations in New Zealand.
  • The melanoma registration rate has decreased since 2008.
  • In 2015, 378 New Zealanders died from melanoma.
  • The melanoma mortality rate has remained relatively stable since 2001.
  • Melanoma registration and mortality rates are consistently higher for males than for females. 
  • New Zealand has one of the highest melanoma rates in the world.
Non-melanoma skin cancer
  • In 2015, 157 New Zealanders died from non-melanoma skin cancer.  
  • The mortality rate for non-melanoma skin cancers has remained relatively stable since 2001.
Vitamin D deficiency
  • About 4.9% of New Zealand adults (15+ years) had vitamin D deficiency in 2008/09.
  • A further 27.1% of adults were below the recommended level of vitamin D.