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The twin role played by the skin – protection from excessive UV radiation and absorption of enough sunlight to trigger the production of vitamin D – means that people living in the lower latitudes, close to the Equator, with intense UV radiation, have developed darker skin to protect them from the damaging effects of UV radiation. In contrast, those living in the higher latitudes, closer to the Poles, have developed fair skin to maximize vitamin D production.
Sources Chaplin G. , Geographic Distribution of Environmental Factors Influencing Human Skin Coloration, American Journal of Physical Anthropology 125:292–302, 2004; map updated in 2007.
Link to web-site
Emmanuelle Bournay, UNEP/GRID-Arendal
Appears in Vital Ozone Graphics
Published 2007


3jpeg-1.gifReprinted from United Nations Environment Program