Ultraviolet is a description of the band of sunrays that fall in the middle of the magnetic spectrum. The length of these rays is shorter than visible light but longer than X rays, and include UVA, UVB and UVC.
During the past two decades it has become increasingly evident that exposure to ultraviolet radiation, UVB and UVA, is potentially lethal to humans. When these sunrays hit the skin, some are scattered, some reflected but much is absorbed by chromosomes and cell proteins. This absorption causes damage to the cell's deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) which in turn triggers a response that can lead to cancer, eye damage or blindness.
Exposure to ultraviolet radiation should be avoided. In May 2000, the National Institutes of Health added solar ultraviolet radiation and exposure to sun lamps and sun beds to the list of identified carcinogens in America. (Carcinogens are substances known to cause cancer). Two years later, the Institute included broad-spectrum ultraviolet radiation, and specifically stated that each component, UVA, UVB and UVC were reasonably anticipated to be human carcinogens.
The most common and acute response to exposure to ultraviolet radiation is sunburn. Sunburn is attributed to UVB and can occur in less than 20 minutes in the summer. Tanning, which is also considered evidence of skin damage, is a delayed reaction. Tanning salons, in an effort to avoid burning, began using mainly UVA lamps in sun beds. Unfortunately, this use of UVA may cause even more serious long-term damage as UVA penetrates the layers of skin more deeply than UVB.
Ultraviolet radiation (UV) is responsible for the growing epidemic of skin cancer in the United States and other countries. Humans are increasingly exposed to it as the ozone is depleted and/or global warming intensifies reflection. People of all colors should be AWARE that they need to protect themselves from exposure to ultraviolet radiation.