The toxic effects of light and
UV radiation on our skin
Overexposure to UV radiation may suppress proper functioning of the body’s immune system and the skin’s natural defenses
As you age, your skin begins to show signs of the wear and tear of time. Much of this aging is caused by UV radiation and how it impacts the layers of your skin.
Ultraviolet rays are invisible light rays from the sun that carry more energy than visible light. This invisible radiation is also produced from tungsten lamps, welding arcs, and certain fluorescent lights. Ultraviolet radiation (UVR) can damage a person’s eyes and skin.
It is a form of electromagnetic radiation produced as part of the light spectrum by the sun. There are three forms of radiation, known as UVA, UVB, and UVC. Of these three, we are most exposed to UVA radiation. The atmosphere of our planet blocks nearly all of the other two spectrums, which is good since UVA is the weakest of the three forms of radiation.
For most people, the dose of ultraviolet light on an average day is quite small, but the effects can increase over time. This is particularly true if you actively seek out the sun through sunbathing and such. Over time, UVA radiation acts upon the collagen in the epidermis of our skin. It does not cause sunburn, but it penetrates deeply into the skin layers and causes damage. The damage can include premature aging of the skin, DNA damage that can result in mutations and possible skin cancer. Because of this, you must use a sunblock that is oriented to protect against UVA. Most sunblocks are tailored to UVB protection, which is not enough protection.
The human body has a natural method of protecting itself from the effects of ultraviolet radiation. You probably already know what it is – tanning. When you tan, your skin color turns to a darker brown shade. The body accomplishes this by producing melanin in the skin, the functional cause of the change of color. The more melanin produced, the darker your skin turns, and the more protection there is against ultraviolet light penetration.
UV light is a type of ionizing radiation that it frees electrons from atoms or molecules, causing chemical reactions. UV light is divided into three categories listed in order of increasing energy: UVA, UVB, UVC.
UVC is the most harmful, but the ozone layer and other components of the atmosphere filter all of it out before it reaches us. That’s also the case for a large percentage of UVB light. But nearly all UVA light reaches the Earth’s surface.
UVB radiation is the most dangerous, as this can damage the eyes and cause sunburn to the skin. UVB is the cause of snow-blindness. The radiation induces a photochemical reaction in the cornea and overlying conjunctiva after a few hours of exposure, producing swelling of the cornea (edema) and inflammation of the surrounding tissue.
Unlike visible light, the energy from UV radiation can be absorbed by molecules in our body, causing chemical reactions. When DNA absorbs the energy from UV radiation, it can use reactions that lead to genetic mutations. Some of these mutations can lead to skin cancer development, which is the most common cancer is the U.S Basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and malignant melanoma (one of the deadliest cancers) are all associated with UV light exposure.
UV radiation also causes photoaging. UVA radiation penetrates deep into the skin, destroying collagen, which leads to wrinkles and skin thinning. Also, some autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, flare in response to UV radiation. UV radiation can also affect the eye, causing cataracts.
How Light & UV Rays play a part in health
Exposure to UV rays can cause other health problems:
- UV rays, either from the sun or from artificial sources like tanning beds, can cause sunburn.
- Exposure to UV rays can cause premature ageing of the skin and signs of sun damage such as wrinkles, leathery skin, liver spots, actinic keratosis, and solar elastosis.
- UV rays can also cause eye problems. They can cause cornea (on the front of the eye) to become inflamed or burned. They can also lead to the formation of cataracts (clouding of the lens of the eye) and pterygium (tissue growth on the surface of the eye), both of which can impair vision.
- Exposure to UV rays can also weaken the immune system so that the body has a harder time fending off infections. It can cause vaccines to be less effective.
Some people are more sensitive to the damaging effects of UV radiation. Some medications can also make you more sensitive to UV radiation, making you more likely to sunburn. And certain medical conditions can be made worse by UV radiation.
Recommended lighting levels in buildings
Lighting in our living room and the workplace is critical for our ability to perform tasks efficiently and safely. Also, adequately light levels prevent eye strain, allowing us to work comfortably for longer periods. To measure light level accurately, our recommendation includes using Tenmars TM-204 LUX/FC Light Meter which can measure light level of up to 200,000 Lux, covering essentially all possible ranges.
Source: Measuring lux levels with Tenmars TM-204 LUX/FC Light Meter
The outdoor light level is approximately 10,000 lux on a clear day. In the building, in the area closest to windows, the light level may be reduced to approximately 1,000 lux. In the middle area, it may be as low as 25 – 50 lux. Additional lighting equipment is often necessary to compensate for the low levels.
Earlier it was common with light levels in the range 100 – 300 lux for normal activities. Today, the light level is more common in the range 500 – 1000 lux – depending on activity. For precision and detailed works, the light level may even approach 1500 – 2000 lux.
Generally, factors that affect illumination effectiveness are quantity and quality of light, amount of flicker, amount of glare, contrast, and shadows. For instance, each factor must be adjusted differently to optimize illumination in an emergency, safety, operations, and security situations.
Lighting standards also serve to address the plethora of other concerns associated with the design, placement installation, and minimum energy requirements and efficient allocation of illumination in different locations with different purposes, as well as the efficiency, durability, cost, and maintainability.
UV sterilization in hospital
Hospitals usually go to great lengths to keep sterile. In some cases, fatal hospital infections are not completely preventable. But in many cases, the hospital could have done much more to ensure sanitary conditions.
UV sterilization is a fast-growing and invaluable option for preventing the spread of hospital-acquired infections, or HAIs. UV sterilization is incredibly effective in killing infectious bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
UV sterilization provides a sanitary workspace and is an incredibly powerful disinfectant. Still it cannot be evident to figure out which UV sterilization device is the right choice for you and your facility.
UV sterilization techniques help provide a standard that can be hard for manual cleaning to meet. By providing a consistent procedure for disinfection, UV sterilization in hospitals is invaluable.
Performance for anti-UV window & glass tint
UV radiation is part of the natural energy produced by the sun. On the electromagnetic spectrum, UV light has shorter wavelengths than visible light, so your eyes can’t see UV, but your skin can feel it. To measure UV radiation, you need a reliable UV meter such as the GMM TM-213 Mini Pocket UVAB Light Meter.
Source: GMM TM-213 Mini Pocket UVAB Light Meter for testing UV radiation
Both UVA and UVB can cause sunburn and tanning, which damage the DNA in your skin cells and increase your risk for skin cancer. UVA rays also cause the unwelcome signs of premature aging, including dark spots and wrinkles. Those UVA rays account for up to 95 percent of the UV radiation reaching the Earth’s surface and are quite good at finding you. They can bounce off reflective surfaces like water and, most relevant during the workday; they can penetrate window glass. If you’re sitting next to a window on a sunny day, those UVA rays hitting your skin are doing damage.
There are ways to protect yourself without forgoing natural light in your office (or home, or car). Window film first showed up in automobiles. Window film can block up to 99.9 percent of UV radiation.
It has been proven that the higher quality films block up to 79% of the solar heat, reduce glare up to 83%, block 99% of UV rays and reduce heat loss in winter by up to 30% (low E films).
Films are available for residential and commercial spaces, and they come in varied tints to allow for customization. Window tint is typically effective for about a decade, which is why we had to replace ours.
In order to detect UV radiation, you will need to have a proper measuring instrument. You can view more of our UV light meter here.