The Sun and its UV rays

If you’ve not totally forgotten Science class, you’ll recall that sunlight is made up of the spectrum of light of many colours at different wavelengths.

(Richard of York Goes Battle In Vain, anyone?)

So, beyond the red part of the solar spectrum, you’ll find infrared radiation. And, at the other end of the spectrum, is ultraviolet (UV) light.

Image: NASAThere are basically three kinds of ultraviolet (UV) radiation that the Sun emits. UVA, UVB and UVC. UVA is long wave, also known as black light. UVB is medium wave and UVC is short wave, or germicidal.

UV rays are important because they assist our bodies in making vitamin D, which strengthens bones and teeth and helps our bodies build immunities to diseases, among other medical qualities.

Besides being also used in the treatment of some medical conditions, UV rays have various commercial uses as well, such as sterilisation and disinfection.

Some animals can see UV rays, and UV vision helps bees to collect pollen from flowers.

SunburnHowever, in spite of all their positive uses, UV rays remain very harmful for anyone who spends a large amount of time in the sun without proper protection. The most common effect of exposure to UV rays is sunburn.

Sunburn is the damage caused to skin cells when they have absorbed too much energy from UV rays.

What happens is that the UV rays penetrate the top layer of skin and burns the layer beneath that.

The sunburn causes blood to rush to the affected area as the body tries to cool the burn, which accounts for the “redness” immediately after a sunburn. The damaged skin ultimately peels away.

BUT, that’s not all.

Long term exposure to the Sun and its UV rays without proper protection increases one’s risk of skin cancer.

SunburnThe Earth’s ozone layer blocks out 98.7% of UV radiation from entering our atmosphere, protecting us from its harmful effects. (That’s why it’s important to stop global warming and not destroy the ozone layer.)

At least on July 22, the Moon will stop the Sun for a full 6 minutes and 39 seconds. If you get a chance to witness it, don’t miss it because this will be the longest total eclipse of this century.


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One Response to “The Sun and its UV rays”

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