# 24.3 The electromagnetic spectrum  (Page 9/33)

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## Take-home experiment: colors that match

When you light a match you see largely orange light; when you light a gas stove you see blue light. Why are the colors different? What other colors are present in these?

Ultraviolet means “above violet.” The electromagnetic frequencies of ultraviolet radiation (UV)    extend upward from violet, the highest-frequency visible light. Ultraviolet is also produced by atomic and molecular motions and electronic transitions. The wavelengths of ultraviolet extend from 400 nm down to about 10 nm at its highest frequencies, which overlap with the lowest X-ray frequencies. It was recognized as early as 1801 by Johann Ritter that the solar spectrum had an invisible component beyond the violet range.

Solar UV radiation is broadly subdivided into three regions: UV-A (320–400 nm), UV-B (290–320 nm), and UV-C (220–290 nm), ranked from long to shorter wavelengths (from smaller to larger energies). Most UV-B and all UV-C is absorbed by ozone ( ${\text{O}}_{3}$ ) molecules in the upper atmosphere. Consequently, 99% of the solar UV radiation reaching the Earth’s surface is UV-A.

## Human exposure to uv radiation

It is largely exposure to UV-B that causes skin cancer. It is estimated that as many as 20% of adults will develop skin cancer over the course of their lifetime. Again, treatment is often successful if caught early. Despite very little UV-B reaching the Earth’s surface, there are substantial increases in skin-cancer rates in countries such as Australia, indicating how important it is that UV-B and UV-C continue to be absorbed by the upper atmosphere.

All UV radiation can damage collagen fibers, resulting in an acceleration of the aging process of skin and the formation of wrinkles. Because there is so little UV-B and UV-C reaching the Earth’s surface, sunburn is caused by large exposures, and skin cancer from repeated exposure. Some studies indicate a link between overexposure to the Sun when young and melanoma later in life.

The tanning response is a defense mechanism in which the body produces pigments to absorb future exposures in inert skin layers above living cells. Basically UV-B radiation excites DNA molecules, distorting the DNA helix, leading to mutations and the possible formation of cancerous cells.

Repeated exposure to UV-B may also lead to the formation of cataracts in the eyes—a cause of blindness among people living in the equatorial belt where medical treatment is limited. Cataracts, clouding in the eye’s lens and a loss of vision, are age related; 60% of those between the ages of 65 and 74 will develop cataracts. However, treatment is easy and successful, as one replaces the lens of the eye with a plastic lens. Prevention is important. Eye protection from UV is more effective with plastic sunglasses than those made of glass.

A major acute effect of extreme UV exposure is the suppression of the immune system, both locally and throughout the body.

Low-intensity ultraviolet is used to sterilize haircutting implements, implying that the energy associated with ultraviolet is deposited in a manner different from lower-frequency electromagnetic waves. (Actually this is true for all electromagnetic waves with frequencies greater than visible light.)

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hello
Timothy
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Timothy
no....I said below me ...... nothing below .....ok?
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