Ultraviolet rays are a type of radiation, not visible to the human eye, that comes from space, although it can also be produced on Earth, since it serves various applications, including detecting substances, marks and elements that cannot be observed. naked eye. In turn, ultraviolet rays are used in the medicinal, chemical, scientific, forensic and security areas, due to their properties that facilitate the observation of different elements.

 

Benefits of UV rays

Ultraviolet rays are a type of electromagnetic radiation, which gets its name because its propagation wave begins behind what is the color violet for the human eye.

In this sense, ultraviolet rays generate different chemical processes in the organisms and materials to which they are applied; thus, their effects can be positive or negative, according to the duration and distance of the exposure.

Taking into account the aforementioned, it can be said that the greatest benefits obtained from ultraviolet rays are the following:

Medicinal treatments

The contributions of technology in the medicinal area are multiple, among them, the benefits that ultraviolet rays provide in the treatment of conditions and diseases of different types have been proven.

In this sense, ultraviolet rays serve to disinfect environments, destroying bacteria and viruses that are immune to cleaning products. Likewise, they can be used for the treatment of dermatological and skin diseases and jaundice.

On the other hand, ultraviolet rays are used to minimize the effects of seasonal depression (produced by temperature changes) and also to process blood for transfusions and avoid rejection of it in patients.

Sterilization of food and water purification

With the use of ultraviolet rays it is possible to prevent the survival of certain microorganisms; in this way, fungi, bacteria and viruses can be removed from food and water. The main advantage of using ultraviolet rays to sterilize and purify is that they do not leave residues as happens with regular chemical products.

Inspections

Ultraviolet rays produce an effect known as fluorescence , in which some substances are capable of reflecting more light energy than they receive; consequently, it is possible to observe them more easily.

This property is used to carry out inspections in case of fires, accidents, crimes, among others, since, by means of ultraviolet rays, fluid residues (blood, urine, saliva), fuels (gasoline), footprints can be easily observed. , among others.

On the other hand, ultraviolet rays can also be used to inspect works of art and jewelry, determining the time, quality and authenticity of the materials used.

check

Most identification documents, coins, credit cards and other official papers contain invisible security marks that can be seen under UV rays.

In this way, the veracity of such documents can be determined through the use of ultraviolet rays, thus avoiding falsification, plagiarism and other related crimes.

Pest control

An example of another use that is given to ultraviolet rays is the control of pests and insects, for this purpose, the well-known fly traps use ultraviolet rays to attract insects, which subsequently receive electric shocks.

Aesthetic treatments

In addition to being used to treat dermatological diseases, blemishes and blemishes on the skin; UV rays are also used in tanning beds and nail art treatments.

farming

Ultraviolet rays are a mechanism used in agriculture to simulate the environmental conditions that certain types of crops need. In this way, ultraviolet rays not only resemble the solar energy required in the agricultural process, but also prevent the spread of pests that can contaminate and damage crops.

Types of ultraviolet rays

The electromagnetic radiation that is produced with lengths shorter than the visible spectrum, known as ultraviolet rays, can be of three types, which are distinguished in their wavelength and the effects they produce:

  • UVA: with a wavelength between 320 and 400 nm, it is the least harmful type of ultraviolet rays. Likewise, they are the most absorbed by the Earth (95%), since, for the most part, they are not absorbed by the ozone layer. The immediate effect of exposure to UVA rays is the coloration or pigmentation of the skin (tanning), although an overexposure can cause irreversible damage to the skin.
  • UVB: its wavelength is between 290 and 320 nm, a large percentage of this is absorbed by the ozone layer; however, the deterioration of this, caused that UVB rays penetrate the Earth with increasing force. Among its most damaging consequences is skin cancer.
  • UVC: finally, UVC rays are the most powerful with a wavelength, below 290 nm. However, the ozone layer absorbs them almost entirely, preventing serious damage to living organisms on Earth.

It is necessary to highlight the importance of environmental conservation in this matter, due to the fact that environmental pollution that causes the deterioration of the ozone layer increases the dangers generated by ultraviolet rays.

In this sense, although the different types of ultraviolet rays are largely absorbed by ozone, its rapid destruction increases the amount of radiation that enters the Earth, therefore, increases the risks of suffering its consequences.

Consequences of ultraviolet rays

The applications of ultraviolet rays at present are multiple and allow to carry out various procedures and methods of a scientific, medical, aesthetic, agricultural, investigative nature, among others.

However, prolonged exposure to this type of light has harmful effects on human health, especially with regard to dermatological problems. Here are the most common consequences of UV rays:

Burns

They are wounds produced on the skin by prolonged and recurrent exposure to ultraviolet rays, which cause symptoms such as burning, itching and spots.

This type of skin injury can occur from direct exposure to the sun, or from the use of solar cameras and tanning booths.

Skin cancer

One of the most common and dangerous types of cancer, it is caused by unprotected exposure to ultraviolet rays. In this sense, there are different types of skin cancer, the best known are:

  • Melanoma: the most harmful and most common type of cancer in young adults.
  • Basal cell carcinomas: it is the most common and least aggressive type of non-melanoma cancer, characterized by the appearance of nodules in the neck and head, which very rarely travel to other parts of the body.
  • Squamous cell carcinomas: These appear as nodules or reddish patches with scales, which can appear in large areas of skin throughout the body.

Premature aging

Premature aging is known as the anticipated changes that the skin undergoes, as a result of bad habits, such as prolonged and unprotected exposure to ultraviolet rays.

This consequence is characterized by causing spots and wrinkles on the skin, in addition to a tired, rough and thick appearance of dermatitis.

Actinic keratosis

Also called solar keratosis, it is a skin disease in which a series of scaly lesions appear on the hands, face, lips, forearms, shoulders, necks and hairless parts of the scalp.

This type of disease is more common in men than in women, and people with fair complexions are more likely to suffer from it. It also increases the risk of squamous cell carcinomas.

Eye damage

Constant and unprotected exposure to ultraviolet rays can cause damage to the eyes, including some types of cataracts, pterygium (inflammation of the conjunctiva tissue that can extend to the cornea) and deterioration of the macula (yellowish spot inside the retina).

To avoid these injuries caused by ultraviolet rays, it is recommended to protect the eyes from exposure to them, with the use of sunglasses and other elements that minimize the passage of radiation to the eyes.

Conclusion: Are UV Rays Really Important?

Ultraviolet rays are a type of electromagnetic radiation that cannot be captured by the human eye, in this sense, science has developed various mechanisms to use them and improve the quality of life of the population. This is why ultraviolet rays are used in medicine, research, forensic science, and security.

Samantha Robson
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Dr. Samantha Robson ( CRN: 0510146-5) is a nutritionist and website content reviewer related to her area of ​​expertise. With a postgraduate degree in Nutrition from The University of Arizona, she is a specialist in Sports Nutrition from Oxford University and is also a member of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

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