UV radiation

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  June 17, 2022
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Ultraviolet (UV) light is electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength from 400 nm to 10 nm, shorter than that of visible light but longer than X-rays. Though usually invisible, under some conditions children and young adults can see ultraviolet down to wavelengths of about 310 nm, and people with aphakia (missing lens) can also see some UV wavelengths. Near-UV is visible to a number of insects and birds. UV radiation is present in sunlight, and is produced by electric arcs and specialized lights such as mercury-vapor lamps, tanning lamps, and black lights. Although lacking the energy to ionize atoms, long-wavelength ultraviolet radiation can cause chemical reactions, and causes many substances to glow or fluoresce. Consequently, biological effects of UV are greater than simple heating effects, and many practical applications of UV radiation derive from its interactions with organic molecules. Suntan and sunburn are familiar effects of over-exposure, along with higher risk of skin cancer. Living things on dry land would be severely damaged by ultraviolet radiation from the sun if most of it were not filtered out by the Earth’s atmosphere, particularly the ozone layer. More-energetic, shorter-wavelength “extreme” UV below 121 nm ionizes air so strongly that it is absorbed before it reaches the ground. Ultraviolet is also responsible for the formation of bone-strengthening vitamin D in most land vertebrates, including humans. The UV spectrum thus has effects both beneficial and harmful to human health.

I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Tools Doctor, content marketer, and dad. I love trying out new equipment, and together with my team I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with tools & crafting tips.