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Benefits of UV Light

Benefits of UV Light

Besides the adverse effects of ultraviolet radiation, there are also benefits of exposure in nature and uses in technology. Vitamin D production in the skin (epidermis) results from exposure to UVB radiation, generally from sunlight. A number of studies indicate lack of vitamin D can result in the development of a range of cancers (prostate, breast, colon), so a certain amount of UV exposure is helpful. Lack of vitamin D is also linked to osteoporosis. Exposures (with no sunscreen) of 10 minutes a day to arms, face, and legs might be sufficient to provide the accepted dietary level. However, in the winter time north of about \(\text{37º}\) latitude, most UVB gets blocked by the atmosphere.

UV radiation is used in the treatment of infantile jaundice and in some skin conditions. It is also used in sterilizing workspaces and tools, and killing germs in a wide range of applications. It is also used as an analytical tool to identify substances.

When exposed to ultraviolet, some substances, such as minerals, glow in characteristic visible wavelengths, a process called fluorescence. So-called black lights emit ultraviolet to cause posters and clothing to fluoresce in the visible. Ultraviolet is also used in special microscopes to detect details smaller than those observable with longer-wavelength visible-light microscopes.


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