GENESIS-UV: UV exposure during non-insured periods

Project No. IFA 4234


completed 11/2022


UV radiation can cause skin cancer. Although the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified UV radiation as a class 1 carcinogen, UV-induced skin cancer has nevertheless remained a neglected risk in people’s perception for many years and therefore requires preventive measures. Also, GENESIS-UV (Generation and Extraction System for individual Exposure ) has provided nuanced and reliable exposure data to assess exposure in occupational disease procedures (projects IFA-4207, IFA-4227, IFA-4228). However, there is not enough in-depth knowledge about exposure during uninsured periods. This makes it difficult to retrospectively assess UV exposures of insured persons, as it would require a comparison with exposures during non-insured periods.

The aim of the project is therefore to develop an exposure register for activities performed during non-insured periods. First of all, this should allow a comprehensive approach to preventive care, offering protection both in the private and occupational spheres and, if possible, starting with childhood. Secondly, it should provide details on the "remaining part of the population" as defined in section 9 (1) of the German Social Code VII (SGB VII), allowing investigations into suspected cases of occupational diseases.


The GENESIS measuring system, which was developed under IFA project 4207, makes it possible to conduct non-centralised long-term measurements. In its application, the project was carried out as GENESIS-UV (now in its third system generation). The measuring device was an electronic data logging dosimeter that can measure UV irradiation, acceleration (to validate the measurement) and magnetic field strength (to determine the orientation of the dosimeter towards the sun). 265 units were available, allowing both focused measurements on site on a specific day (e.g. in an amusement park) and measurements spread out over a period of weeks or months. It was assumed that nine measurement events could take place per measurement year, between April and October (all day with several test subjects at one location) and that about 200 subjects could take part in the measurements over several weeks.

Based on the time use record of the German Federal Statistical Office, applied to the population, activities were to be identified that are carried out as leisure activities (e.g. gardening, playing football, etc.). For these activities, volunteers were recruited and equipped with a dosimeter for a defined period of time. Recruitment took the form of proactive advertising in the magazines of the accident insurance institutions, as well as contact with associations in Germany (e.g. via Facebook), finding volunteers through local residents’ registration offices, and also by asking people to volunteer on a personal basis.


By applying the time use record of the German Federal Statistical Office, it was possible to identify all activities associated with UV irradiation where time was a relevant factor. Eventually, by consolidating individual activities, it was possible to develop a measurement catalogue that consisted of 14 groups (such as "eating outdoors", "taking the dog for a walk", etc.), involving 600 volunteers who had been recruited through articles, a website, Facebook and word of mouth, and distributed over a period of two years. Each subject was asked to wear the dosimeter exclusively during the relevant activity. In parallel projects, research was also carried out on football referees (representing "outdoor ball games"), visitors to the German Federal Garden Show (representing "days out" and "walks around parks") as well as those attending DGUV office parties. In one particular location, restrictions under the Covid pandemic made it impossible to carry out certain selective measurements as planned.

An average exposure value was determined for each activity. Interestingly, within the error tolerances, many activities showed roughly the same irradiation per minute (e.g. "eating outside", "doing the washing" and "taking the dog for a walk"). This means that the level of exposure that was actually received depended primarily on the amount of time spent on a given activity. The only outliers were "helping another household", where exposure was exceptionally low, and "cycling and skating", where it was exceptionally high.

Subject to further, more in-depth analysis, it turned out that the average annual exposure of the German population is about 260 SEDs (standard erythrocyte doses). This is about twice as high as previously suspected, yet it is consistent with findings from the GENESIS-UV measurements on occupational exposure. There, too, the measured amount of annual irradiation was within a range that was roughly twice as high.

Limitations of the results are due to the fact that no reference to the time of day was obtained when calculating a mean value. When compiling the data, it was assumed for the sake of simplicity that when subjects engaged in the activities, they would behave in a similar way to the population as a whole. The next step will be to continue analysing the results that have been obtained and to feed them into occupational disease procedures for occupational disease (BK) no. 5103. Furthermore, there are plans to use this data in collaboration with other stakeholders, as part of civil protection efforts to address the climate crisis.

Last Update:

13 Mar 2023


Financed by:
  • Deutsche Gesetzliche Unfallversicherung e. V. (DGUV)
Research institution(s):
  • UV-übergreifend

-cross sectoral-

Type of hazard:

work-related health hazards, radiation, -various


occupational disease, radiation, prevention

Description, key words:

GENESIS-UV, measurement system, electronic dosimeter, UV irradiation, exposure register


Further information