Study shows sun danger at Sydney playgrounds

Children are being exposed to unhealthy sun risk in Sydney playgrounds, with those in poorer areas facing the most danger, according to a study.

Cancer Council NSW researchers visited 139 urban playgrounds and found a worrying tendency for more shade over eating areas than over the equipment where children spend most of their time.

Another concern is a tendency for playgrounds in poorer areas to have less shade than those in richer areas, according to a report on the study published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health.

Playgrounds in the richest areas had 49 per cent coverage overall compared with 13 per cent for the poorest areas.

Part of the reason for this is a lack of established trees in poorer areas.

But the study's authors, led by Caroline Anderson, point out that permanent shade is significantly more effective than natural shade.

They urge local government to make playground shade a priority when developing and upgrading parks and playgrounds.

The report describes the study as concerning from a skin-cancer prevention perspective.

"A greater investment in shade that filters UV radiation will help to improve both the desirability of local parks and the health of residents," it says.

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