Cancer Council has urged consumers to shop smart for shade structures, with concerns that some products don't deliver adequate protection from the sun.

The warning comes as some shade cloths fail to provide the minimum recommended protection against ultraviolet (UV) radiation.

Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said it was important to know what to look for when shopping for shade.

"Many Queenslanders are unaware of recommended Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) ratings for shade structures, and could be using products that don't provide adequate protection against future skin cancer," Ms Clift said.

"If you're looking for portable shade options like umbrellas, shelters and small tents - aim for a UPF rating of 50, which absorbs 99 per cent of UV radiation and offers maximum protection.

"When choosing backyard shade, combining natural and built elements is the most effective option - including shade sails or canopies set among environmental shade from trees and foliage.

"In Queensland, shade structures need to be built to withstand high levels of UV year-round, and must provide a suitable barrier from direct and indirect UV radiation.

"Good shade should block sunlight and should be made from a closely woven dense material, in darker colours for maximum protection."

Cancer Council has also cautioned that shade doesn't provide 100 per cent protection, and must be used with other SunSmart strategies.

"We urge all Queenslanders to Slip on protective clothing; Slop on SPF 30 or above broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen; Slap on a broad-brimmed hat; Seek shade; and Slide on wrap-around sunnies for best protection against the sun," Ms Clift said.

"Built and natural shade can reduce exposure to UV radiation by over 90 per cent, but that only occurs when the shade is directly overhead.

"Trees and umbrellas can reduce exposure to UV radiation by up to 75 per cent - but unblocked or reflected UV radiation can still cause harm and increase risks of skin cancer.

"Get smart about shade, seek a satisfactory UPF, and save your family from skin cancer."

Queenslanders can encourage their workplace, school, sports club, early childhood centre or local council to help reduce the risk of cancer by joining QUEST for free at quest.org.au.

More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available via Cancer Council's 13 11 20 or cancerqld.org.au.


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