Physics

Effects of Ultraviolet Radiation



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Ultraviolet Radiation and You!

Ultraviolet radiation is everywhere, from the pools we swim in; to the sun that bathes us in it. After Violet light we get into the Ultraviolet, or greater than Violet, light spectrums. From the tan you receive from the sun, or a tanning bed, to the type of Ultraviolet light used to sterilize, we are bombarded with this "hidden" light every day. Ultraviolet light is for the most part split into three distinct categories; UV-A, UV-B, and UV-C light. UV-A light, also called Black Light, is the Ultraviolet radiation that encompasses the wavelengths between three-hundred and twenty and four-hundred nanometers. This type of radiation causes skin tans, not burns, and can be referred to as near Ultraviolet Radiation. Skin aging and Cataracts are common causes of UV-A light. Tanning salons use UV-A light in there beds. UV-B Light encompasses the wavelengths from two-hundred and eighty to three-hundred nanometers, also called Middle Ultraviolet radiation. This radiation is the primary cause of Sunburns, and doesn't transfer through glass. The third and most deadly kind of radiation from the sun is called UV-C light, or Far Ultraviolet Radiation. This surrounds the wavelengths between one-hundred to two-hundred and eighty nanometers. This type of sun radiation is used primarily as a germicide and is almost completely blocked by Earth's atmosphere. Prolonged exposure to this type of Ultraviolet radiation has been known to affect the skin, eye and Immune system. These three types of light have other effects as well. They can cause Direct DNA Damage (Mostly UV-B), Indirect DNA Damage (Mostly UV-A), and All three have been known to cause a few types of skin cancer. Malignant Melanoma, for instance, is considered to be primarily caused by Ultraviolet Radiation. The many negatives of Ultraviolet light, at first, seem to outweigh the acuteness of the positives that are gained, but in the end we find that there is no replacing this valuable and dangerous commodity.

The most deadly effect of Ultraviolet radiation can be the direct damage done to the Deoxyribonucleic Acid, Also known as DNA. This is caused by Ultraviolet B, and C, radiation waves. The waves enter the skin and excite Cytosine Molecules. The excited state of the Cytosine Molecules causes aberrant covalent bonds between other Cytosine molecules. Then when DNA polymerases come along they see these bonds and register them. When the polymerases go to replicate this part of the DNA, they instead replicate something else entirely. This is called a mutation, more commonly known as a "C-T" mutation. Because the created covalent bond is considered an "AA" dimmer and instead is registered as a "CC" dimmer, and the polymerase create a "TT" dimmer to replicate via the replication mechanism instead. These "C-T" mutations are the beginning work of cancer formations, or growth. This is also the most common finding in majority of skin cancer cases. This may be the most deadly way Ultraviolet radiation can affect the human anatomy, by simply rewriting our Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA).

There is another kind of Deoxyribonucleic Acid damage as well, Indirect DNA Damage. This is caused by Ultraviolet A radiation, unlike Direct DNA damage which is caused by Ultraviolet B and C radiations. This is where the waves of the UV-A radiation are absorbed through the skin via the Chromophore's of the molecules. The Chromophore is the part of the molecule that controls the molecules color. Normally what these do is convert the energy from the UV-A radiation into harmless heat energy, but sometimes too much UV-A gets absorbed and it can't convert the energy fast enough. When it can't convert the energy fast enough, the molecule enters an excited state. This excited state lasts much longer than the normal excited state of these molecules. A normal Melanin molecule has an excited state that lasts about 10-15 seconds. A molecule that has an excited state due to the UV-A that the Chromophore has absorbed lasts one-thousand times longer than this. This gives the molecule time to damage the living cells that this molecule comes in contact with. This can cause many different problems to the skin. Sunscreen is a common misconception to help prevent this, but sunscreen is used to prevent sunburn from UV-B light. There is no feasible measurement currently established on sunscreen for preventative measures against UV-A radiation.

Ultraviolet radiation can cause skin aging and Vitamin A destruction as well. We've already established that Ultraviolet radiation can cause cancer in various forms. Skin cancer is the most common of those forms that is caused by this, more precisely Malignant Melanoma. Ultraviolet radiation also causes the depletion of Vitamin A in the skin. This is mostly a side-effect of Ultraviolet A radiation. The collagen fibers are also damaged in various ways by Ultraviolet radiation. The damage collagen fibers cause accelerated aging of the skin. So not only are you making yourself slightly more attractive by tanning, you are also aging yourself. Ultraviolet radiation has a lot of negatives stacked against it, but there is a bright side to this story as well.

Ultraviolet radiation is not without hope. Ultraviolet radiation is required for the Production of Vitamin D. The irony in this is Vitamin D helps fight against various forms of cancer. Vitamin D shortage has also been linked to a few types of cancer as well. It is estimated that actually ten's of thousand's of people die due to a Vitamin D shortage. There is also a form of disease that is a Vitamin D deficiency. This is called Osteomalacia. This is known as Adult rickets, and is mostly caused due to Vitamin D deficiencies. Psioriasis and Vitiligo are skin conditions that actually have a form of therapy that uses Ultraviolet radiation. This therapy is called Phototherapy; its sole purpose is to stimulate the Vitamin D production to help treat these conditions. Not to mention, Without Ultraviolet radiation we would have to come up with different forms of sterilization, a minor positive but a positive none-the-less. Ultraviolet radiation is actually needed to survive, and is at the moment impossible to completely avoid.

Everywhere you go, sit, visit or play, you'll find these helpful and deadly radiations. Ultraviolet radiation is a form of Electromagnetic radiation. So, when you think you are hidden you are not. Indirect DNA damage is caused by Ultraviolet radiation, and there is no tell tale sign of blocking power. Sunscreen again is used for UV-B radiation control. Direct DNA damage is guarded by sunscreen, and UV-B radiation is blocked by even glass. Our Earth plays a huge role and helps filter out this Ultraviolet B radiation some, but not all. If we were to be completely without Ultraviolet radiation, we'd lose out on our Vitamin D production. This may not seem bad since we do get a lot from food, but then again what would happen to all those Psiorisis and Vitiligo patients. This leads us to the third and most deadly for of Ultraviolet radiation, UV-C. Where is it? Most of this radiation is human made on Earth, for sterilization purposes, and germicides. Pool Cleansers and other sterilizers use it. This Ultraviolet radiation type is rarely something a human has to worry about. For it is just about completely filtered through our atmosphere. Most cases are from the people that actually have to be near the man-made projects. Ultraviolet radiation is a form of Electromagnetic radiation that is both dangerous and beneficial to our cause, we should generally be weary of this form of Radiation but alas we should not fear Ultraviolet Radiation.

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