Know your standard: clarifying the CIE erythema action spectrum

Photochem Photobiol. Mar-Apr 2011;87(2):483-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1751-1097.2010.00871.x. Epub 2011 Jan 4.


The standard erythema action spectrum provides an internationally accepted representation of the erythema-inducing effectiveness of wavelengths in the UV part of the spectrum. The action spectrum forms the basis of the UV index used for public health information, defines the standard erythema dose unit and the minimum erythema dose and is the default response spectrum aspired to by a range of UV radiometer manufacturers. However, there are several versions of this erythema action spectrum in use, and only one of them has been endorsed as a standard. While the differences in erythemally weighted radiation incurred by choice of action spectrum will be no more than a few percent, this uncertainty is unnecessary. Here we detail the differences in the different versions of erythema action spectra, illustrate the resulting effects in quantifying UV doses and encourage readers to use only the standard version of the action spectrum in the future.

MeSH terms

  • Erythema* / classification
  • Humans
  • Skin / pathology*
  • Skin / radiation effects*
  • Ultraviolet Rays*