Ultraviolet radiation

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A form of electromagnetic radiation emitting ultraviolet rays


The electromagnetic radiation is the radiation released in the form of electromagnetic waves. The distance between successive crests is called the wavelength. The shorter the wavelength, the greater is the amount of energy. There are many forms of electromagnetic radiation. One of them is ultraviolet radiation emitting invisible light, particularly ultraviolet (UV) rays. UV rays have higher wavelength to that of visible light. In the electromagnetic spectrum, the UV rays are those that are beyond the violet end of the visible spectrum (wavelength less than 400nm) and above the x-ray wavelengths (greater than 5 nm). Thus, the wavelengths of UV range to about 10 nm to about 400 nm.

The main source of UV radiation is solar radiation. A fraction of UV radiation can reach the surface of the earth. Unlike visible light, UV is not visible to human eye. Some animals though such as certain small birds have a color receptor for UV rays and therefore can see UV rays. Prolonged exposure to UV can damage living tissues. It is the uv component of sunlight that causes actinic keratoses to form in skin, but that is also required for vitamin D synthesis. Nucleic acids absorb UV most strongly at around 260 nm and this is the wavelength most likely to cause mutational damage (by the formation of thymine dimers).

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