Good Health

The Harmful Effects of UV Light

We humans have used up quite our share of toxic substances. It’s only in recent years that we’ve discovered to what extent these substances have been damaging our environment (and consequently, ourselves). It has also shown us that such effects can often go hidden for years and years. One such case is the depletion of the ozone layer. This was our buffer from all harmful rays, including UV light. It would absorb UV light but now given our use of certain substances, certain chemicals such as highly reactive CFCs have depleted our ozone layer, leaving us vulnerable. So what precisely are the effects of UV light on us and our environment? Read on for more.

Skin

UV-B and UV-A make up two sections of the UV Spectrum, both of which have their fair share of effects. Exposure to UV-B results in skin burns, darkening and/or reddening of the skin. UV-A is responsible for the darkening of the skin. Prolonged exposure to either can give way to premature aging of the skin- marked by a dreaded dull complexion, fine lines, dark circles, etc.

Skin Cancer

According to NASA, a whopping 90% of skin cancers can also be traced back to UV-B exposure. It is also worth noting that overexposure can lead to a diagnosis in people as early as 20 or possibly 30. There are three types of skin cancer: firstly, Melanoma- the most life-threatening form of skin cancer. It develops fairly quickly and forms as asymmetric patches of larger than 7mm, usually brown, black, blue or grey in color. It spreads and can be fatal as early as 6 weeks. Basal Cell Carcinoma tends to be the most common but also the least dangerous of the lot. It may be found either as a lump or a red, scaly area across the upper torso, head and neck. Thirdly, squamous cell carcinoma, which appears as a thickened red, scaly spot that gradually grows over the span of a few months. It may crust or bleed easily too.  Visit http://www.thesccc.com.au for more information on what exactly you should do if you have any of these symptoms.

The Eye

The eyes can be extremely vulnerable to UV light exposure. Temporarily, it can cause ‘snow-blindness’, a clouding of the cornea that can cause a painful loss of vision. In terms of more long term effects, however, UV light exposure can bring about corneal damage, cataracts, and macular degeneration. All of which will ultimately lead to blindness. It is also possible for the eye to also develop a type of melanoma (skin cancer).

Immune System

UV light can alter the activity of certain cells that act as the body’s immune system and defense. While normally able to slow down the progression of skin tumors, their effectiveness is said to be drastically reduced.

Marine life

UV-B, in particular, has detrimental effects on marine life as well since it impairs photosynthesis and inhibits phytoplankton growth rate, thus endangering marine life dependent on these food sources.

These are the most prominent effects of UV light. It is quite dangerous, so don’t take any risks when you step out into the sun. Make sure you’re wearing your sunscreen at all times.

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