A DOCTOR SUSPECTS THAT SUNBURN EXPERIENCED BY A RECENT CANADIAN-SOVIET POLAR EXPEDITION WAS CAUSED BY ULTRAVIOLET RADIATION STREAMING THROUGH A HOLE IN THE OZONE LAYER.

"SEVERAL OF US HAD TO WEAR MASKS TOWARD THE END OF THE EXPEDITION IN KEEP OUR FACES FROM BEING COMPLETELY DESTROYED BY THE PENETRATING EFFECTS OF THE SUNSHINE," SAID DR. MAX BUXTON OF CALABOGIE, ONT.

HE WAS ONE OF FOUR CANADIANS AND NINE SOVIETS WHO SPENT 3 1/2 MONTHS SKIING 1,085 MILES ACROSS THE POLAR ICE CAP FROM SIBERIA TO ELLESMERE ISLAND.

THE BRIGHT SUNLIGHT WAS "CERTAINLY SOMETHING DIFFERENT," SAID BUXTON, WHO HAS PREVIOUSLY LIVED AND WORKED IN THE ARCTIC.

"IT'S DOCUMENTED THAT THERE IS A PAUCITY OF OXYGEN OVER THE ARCTIC REGION. I THINK THAT YOU HAVE TO PUT TWO AND TWO TOGETHER. WE QUESTION WHETHER THE PAUCITY OF OZONE MAY HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO OUR SKIN DAMAGE."

THE EXPEDITION MEMBERS CAME TO THE UNIVERSITY OF OTTAWA FOR MEDICAL, PHYSIOLOGICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL TESTING AFTER THEIR POLAR TREK ENDED LAST WEEK.

THE EXPEDITION WAS DESIGNED TO TEST HUMAN ADAPTATION TO PROLONGED WORK UNDER EXTREME ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS.

DR. JAMES SPROULE, WHO EXAMINED THE TEAM MEMBERS, SAID ALL 13 HAD SOME DEGREE OF FROST INJURY, AS WELL AS SUN AND WIND DAMAGE ON THEIR FACES.

MANY OF THEM ALSO HAD EYE IRRITATIONS CAUSED BY PROLONGED EXPOSURE TO POLAR SUNLIGHT.

"WE WERE QUITE READY FOR THE COLD, BUT WE WERE NOT QUITE READY FOR THE SUN," SAID MIKHAIL MALAKHOW, THE SOVIETS' DOCTOR.

"WE HAVE NOT ENCOUNTERED SIMILAR PROBLEMS BECAUSE WE DID NOT HAVE ANY SUCH SEVERE SUN ON PREVIOUS (RAINING EXERCISE), JUST THE COLD," MALAKHOV SAID.

HE SAID THE POLAR TREKKERS WERE EXPOSED TO BOTH DIRECT SUNLIGHT AND REFLECTED LIGHT FROM THE ICE.

"IT'S REALLY A VERY SERIOUS ISSUE FOR THE PEOPLE WHO ARE WORKING UNDER THOSE CONDITIONS," HE SAID.

THE OZONE LAYER, PART OF EARTH'S UPPER ATMOSPHERE, PROTECTS THE PLANET FROM ULTRAVIOLET RADIATION, BUT SATELLITE IMAGES HAVE REVEALED THAT THE LAYER IS DEPLETED ABOVE THE ARCTIC AND ANTARCTIC REGIONS.

ENVIRONMENT MINISTER THOMAS MCMILLAN SAID LAST WEEK THAT CANADA WILL BAN NON-ESSENTIAL USE OF CHLOROFLUOROCARBONS, WHICH HAVE BEEN LINKED TO THE OZONE DEPLETION. THE CHEMICALS ARE USED AS PROPELLANTS IN AEROSOL CANS, SOLVENTS AND COOLANTS.