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Wright C.Y.,Modelling and Environmental Health Research Group | Albers P.N.,Environment and Health Research Unit
South African Journal of Science | Year: 2013

Exposure to solar ultraviolet (UV) radiation is known to have both adverse and beneficial consequences for human health. Sunburn and skin cancer are probably the most well-known acute and chronic adverse health impacts. These themes have recently been discussed in the media for the general public; consequently interest in sun protection is growing. The promotion of the use of practical personal strategies to reduce adverse health risks, such as healthy sun behaviour, sun protection mechanisms and solar ultraviolet radiation awareness tools, is increasing. One such tool is the personal UV index (UVI) monitor, promoted commercially as a viable tool for sun awareness; however, such instruments have not been scientifically evaluated in a South African context. Here, two different types of personal UVI monitors, commercially available in South Africa, were compared with a research-grade UVB biometer for a continuous 7-h period on 02 March 2012 in Pretoria. One of the two personal UVI monitors showed reasonable agreement with the UVB biometer, whereas the other monitor overestimated UVI by up to 4 UVI units. When comparing two identical products manufactured by the same company, one monitor overestimated UVI twofold, suggesting inter-instrument variability may be a concern. Commercially available, personal UVI monitors should be used with caution as a public health tool for sun awareness in South Africa. © 2013. The Authors.

Albers P.N.,Environment and Health Research Unit | Albers P.N.,University of Pretoria | Wright C.Y.,Environment and Health Research Unit | Wright C.Y.,Modelling and Environmental Health Research Group | And 4 more authors.
South African Medical Journal | Year: 2015

Background. This cross-sectional study examined respiratory health outcomes and associated risk factors in children living in a part of South Africa characterised by high levels of air pollution. Methods. A questionnaire was used to collect self-reported respiratory health and risk factor data from the parents/guardians of children between the ages of 9 and 11 years attending primary schools in the study area. Six government schools were selected based on their location, class size and willingness to participate. Univariate and bivariate analyses as well as logistic regression analysis were performed on the data, using a p-value of 0.25 and biological plausibility. Results. The overall prevalence of respiratory ill-health symptoms was 34.1%. The prevalence of respiratory ill-health conditions was significantly elevated among children from households using non-electrical fuels v. electricity for cooking (43.9% v. 31.6%; adjusted p-value 0.005). The same was noted among those using non-electrical fuels for heating (37.8% v. 29.0%). Conclusion. The elevated prevalence of some respiratory health outcomes among schoolchildren, especially in conjunction with domestic fossil fuel burning, is of concern. The data collected in this study may be used to complement or form a basis for future policy regarding indoor or ambient air quality in the area. © 2015, South African Medical Association. All rights reserved.

Garland R.M.,Modelling and Environmental Health Research Group | Garland R.M.,North West University South Africa
South African Medical Journal | Year: 2014

The South African government has taken several steps in response to climate change and its associated threats to human health. The National Climate Change Response Plan White Paper defines government's vision for effective climate change response and transitioning to a climate-resilient, low-carbon economy. The White Paper identifies potential health challenges for South Africa (SA), including vector- and water-borne diseases and heat stress. The National Climate Change and Health Adaptation Plan (the Plan), prepared by the National Department of Health, expands on these health challenges, raising not only additional ones, but also related socioeconomic risk factors, such as housing and settlements. Community participation was adopted as one of the guiding principles for implementing the Plan, especially as behavioural change is likely to be important for adaptation and coping strategies. Multisectorial co-operation is also imperative, as many of the climate-related health risks involve multiple multidisciplinary stakeholders to implement appropriate interventions. Addressing inequalities and poverty in SA is critical to ensure that the health impacts from climate change are mitigated, particularly as current evidence suggests that the largest health risks are possibly among communities already most impacted by climate-related diseases. More research is needed to determine the impact of climate on health and which communities are the most vulnerable. Tailored monitoring and evaluation systems, linked with climate surveillance, will provide an opportunity to collect health data on key health risks to inform decision-making.

Schutte A.E.,North West University South Africa | Wright C.Y.,Modelling and Environmental Health Research Group | Langdon G.,University of Cape Town | Lochner C.,Stellenbosch University | Myers B.,University of Cape Town
South African Journal of Science | Year: 2013

The results of an online survey - the SAYAS Survey of Young Scientists that involved the participation of 1021 postgraduate students and postdoctoral fellows from tertiary institutions in South Africa - were released in a report launched in November 2013. In this commentary we highlight some of the key findings from the report: The Research Experience of Young Scientists in South Africa1. © 2013 The Authors.

Wright C.Y.,Modelling and Environmental Health Research Group | Wright C.Y.,University of Pretoria | Norval M.,University of Edinburgh | Hertle R.W.,Akron Children's Hospital
Photochemistry and Photobiology | Year: 2015

Oculocutaneous albinism (OCA) is a genetically inherited autosomal recessive condition. Individuals with OCA lack melanin and therefore are susceptible to the harmful effects of solar ultraviolet radiation, including extreme sun sensitivity, photophobia and skin cancer. OCA is a grave public health issue in sub-Saharan Africa with a prevalence as high as 1 in 1000 in some tribes. This article considers the characteristics and prevalence of OCA in sub-Saharan African countries. Sun-induced adverse health effects in the skin and eyes of OCA individuals are reviewed. Sun exposure behavior and the use of photoprotection for the skin and eyes are discussed to highlight the major challenges experienced by these at-risk individuals and how these might be best resolved. © 2014 The American Society of Photobiology.

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