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Ultraviolet (UV) light

Paper type: Essay
Pages: 4 (770 words)
Categories: Cancer, Disease, Health, Light
Downloads: 39
Views: 431

Ultraviolet (UV) light is kind of radiation having a wavelength shorter than that of white light but longer than x-rays. It has a range of 10 nm to 400 nm. The UV spectrum is divided into three, A, B and C which are named alphabetically based on the times they were discovered. These types of ultraviolet lights have different wavelengths. UV-A which is found at the upper end of the visible spectrum, has a wavelength of 315-400 nm.

UV-B has a wavelength of 280-315 nm and lastly, UV-C, 100-280 nm. Basically, these divisions are made due to the different effects these types of rays do to the tissues in our body.

Two of the three kinds of UV have some biological effects. UV-A and B are the rays responsible for skin reddening. These rays are responsible for the ‘suntans’, sunburns and skin cancer. Too much exposure and absorbance of these rays can cause pain and reddening of the skin.

Another effect of UV-A and B is germicidal actions against bacteria. At certain high frequencies ultraviolet rays are mutagenic to bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms. Lastly, ultraviolet rays are used for producing ozone. UV rays create and additional energy to create ozone.

The last kind of ultraviolet ray, UV-C does not have much a biological effect and so far have no applications in life. The next concept about ultraviolet rays is the action spectra. However, before we could understand that, we must first know what absorbance is. The concept of absorbance is actually easy to understand. Think of it as a tissue paper, the more amount of tissue you have the greater its absorbance power. That is also true in physics. The more absorbance an object has the more amount of energy it can absorb. This energy can be manifested in heat.

That’s why when an object absorbs light, it is usually hotter. Basically, the characteristics of the surface, concentration of the absorbers and the surface area of the sample can actually have biological effects. Knowing absorbance we can now go back to the concept of Action spectra. Action spectrum tells you what actually happens to the surface after absorbance. A perfect example would be the skin. At 400 nm, there is minor skin reddening. This example just states that without other modification of the absorbance properties of the surface (skin), there would be no too much harsh effect on the surface.

However, if at a wavelength of 250-270 nm, there would be a very rapid and response after absorbance. The propensity of the wavelength to cause and effect relative to other wavelengths is high. At 250-270 nm, the effect would be 10,000 times than a 400 nm wavelength can do to the skin. This just tells us that absorption is wavelength specific. In the field of medicine, ultraviolet rays serve a purpose as a treatment for different kinds of illnesses and other applications. Examples of these are Blue light therapy. Blue light therapy helps reduce high levels of bilirubin that causes neonatal jaundice.

UV can also be useful in sterilization. UV lamps are used for sterilizing work spaces and tools used in laboratories. UV can also sterilize and disinfect water. Skin therapy is one of the other useful applications of UV. Skin therapy helps the skin which is exposed to too much UV to return to their normal function (not rapidly multiplying). Although not much is known in UV light treating psychological disorders but some scientists have evidences that UV light can reduce disorders such as Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Radiotherapy is a medical treatment that uses ionization of radiation for cancer treatment. Radiotherapy is commonly applied to tumors. It can be used for cancers such as skin, tongue, larynx, brain, breast and the cervix. Radiotherapy destroys the cancer cells by killing their genetic material making it impossible for them to grow. Radiotherapy works by destroying the DNA of the cells. This works when a photon beam ionizes the atoms that make up the DNA chain. Both bad and good cells are damaged here; however, good cells have the capability to repair themselves while the cancer cells are destroyed.

Although radiotherapy is widely used today, it has different effects depending on the cancer that it treats. Sometimes, side effects such as epilation, dryness and even cancer may occur to the person undergoing radiotherapy. These are just some of the applications of UV light. UV light as we have discussed, can be useful and dangerous at the same time.


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Cite this essay

Ultraviolet (UV) light. (2017, Feb 09). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/ultraviolet-uv-light-essay

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