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The ABC of UV Light

Ultraviolet radiation can be beneficial.

Ultraviolet radiation, contained in sunlight and generated by some industrial products, has been in disrepute for years as a cause of skin cancer.

It is therefore all too easy to overlook the fact that a distinction has to be drawn between various types of ultraviolet radiation, and that this light can not only cause illness but can also serve to safeguard health.

UV light - click to enlarge

The ultraviolet region begins at the short wavelength (violet) limit of visibility. According to wavelength range, ultraviolet light is divided into three regions and is measured in nanometres (nm):

  • UV-A, long-wave ultraviolet light in the 380 to 315 nm range
  • UV-B, medium-wave ultraviolet light in the 315 to 280 nm range
  • UV-C, short-wave ultraviolet light in the 280 to 100 nm range

    What are the effects of ultraviolet light?
    Biologically, the different regions of ultraviolet light have completely different effects. The immediate result of exposing the skin to UV-C and UV-B radiation is erythema or sunburn. Long-term effects in this connection are premature ageing of the skin and increased risk of skin cancer. Particular risks are associated with wavelengths just under 300 nm in the UV-B region. UV-C radiation in particular presents a further health hazard: light of this wavelength is regarded as a cause of conjunctivitis, i.e. acute inflammations of the conjunctiva, the delicate mucous membrane covering the eyeball and the under surface of the eyelid.

    At the same time, ultraviolet light in the wavelength range between 100 and 315 nm is used by industry for disinfecting foodstuffs, as it kills off bacteria present in drinking water and milk, for example. By contrast, ultraviolet light in the A-region is completely safe in naturally occurring and artificially producible doses. Its sole biological effect is pigmentation, i.e. it tans the skin. That is why this range of radiation is put to a wide range of industrial uses. In sunbeds, flourescent lamps, in photochemistry and in copying equipment, UV-A light plays an important role. And A-region ultraviolet light is also widely employed in electric insect control devices.

    A-region ultraviolet light attracts insects
    Unlike humans, some species of flying insect such as houseflies and bluebottles, wasps and mosquitoes can see ultraviolet light. In the 365-nanometre range in particular it exerts an enormous attraction on these bugs. This fact has been put to use for almost 20 years in the indoor battle against injurious flying insects.

    Electric insect control devices are nowadays available in two different versions. The older one lures insects by means of UV-A light and destroys them on an electrically charged grid surrounding the fluorescent tube. Smaller devices of this type, however, offer only limited effectiveness - or are completely ineffective - against flies and wasps owing to their low luminosity or inadequate voltage at the grid.

    In the case of the innovative iGu® FANGREFLEKTOR® System the luminosity of the fluorescent tube is appreciably boosted by a reflecting adhesive foil which also acts as a trap mechanism. The effectiveness of the iGu® FANGREFLEKTOR® FR 3003 which stands as a generic term for all models of iGu's Fangreflektor system thus exceeds that of conventionally designed devices many times over. By virtue of its insecticide-free mode of operation, the iGu® FANGREFLEKTOR® FR 3003 was awarded Germany's prestigious "environmental angel" emblem, as well as winning the "if" design prize.

    By the way, electric bug control devices cannot take the place of a sunbed: the ultraviolet light rating is much too low to give you a tan!


E-mail: iguflytrap@gmail.com


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