Wanna know what are the top 5 applications and uses of ultraviolet rays in real life? If yes, then you are at the right place at the very right time. As per NASA, Ultraviolet rays (UV) are a form of electromagnetic radiation that has shorter wavelengths than visible light. Although UV rays are invisible to the human eye, some insects, such as bumblebees, can see them.
Not to mention, UV radiation is present in sunlight and constitutes about 10% of the total electromagnetic radiation output from the Sun. While excessive exposure to UV radiation can be harmful, these rays have a wide range of applications in various industries and everyday life.
From water purification to forgery detection, UV rays play a vital role in enhancing our quality of life. In this article, we’ll explore 5 fascinating applications and uses of ultraviolet rays in real life. Therefore, without wasting any more time, let’s dive right in…!!!
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5 Applications and Uses of Ultraviolet Rays in Real Life
- Water Purification
- Forgery Detection
- Vitamin D Synthesis
- Skin Treatment
- Air Purification
The very first one on my list of top 5 applications and uses of ultraviolet rays in real life is water purification. UV treatment is a safe and eco-friendly method of purifying water using the process known as UV disinfection or UV water treatment.
UV water purification is effective in eliminating harmful microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites from water without using chemicals. Hence, making it a popular and environmentally friendly method for ensuring clean and safe drinking water. To be precise, UV water purification systems consist of a UV disinfection unit that emits UV-C light. A typical water purification unit typically contains a UV lamp that produces the necessary UV radiation.
Water passes through a chamber or conduit where it is exposed to the UV light emitted by the lamp. As soon as the water flows through the UV chamber, the UV-C light penetrates the cell walls of microorganisms, damaging their genetic material (DNA or RNA).
This damage prevents the microorganisms from replicating and functioning properly, ultimately leading to their inactivation. Therefore, one can conclude that bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens are effectively neutralized by this process. This method is widely used in water treatment plants and portable UV water purifiers.
Ultraviolet (UV) rays are used in forgery detection primarily for the examination of documents, currency, valuable artwork, and other items that might have security features that are invisible or difficult to detect under normal lighting conditions. UV forgery detection relies on the unique properties of materials that fluoresce or react when exposed to UV light.
Many materials used in legitimate documents, such as currency or identification cards, contain fluorescent inks, dyes, or fibers that emit visible light when exposed to UV radiation. By examining these documents under UV light, forensic experts or security personnel can quickly identify whether the fluorescence matches the expected pattern, helping to distinguish genuine items from counterfeits.
Similarly, some documents or security features are printed with invisible ink that becomes visible only under UV light. By illuminating the document with UV rays, hidden text, images, or patterns can be revealed. This technique can be used to verify the authenticity of documents and detect alterations or tampering.
Vitamin D Synthesis
Ultraviolet (UV) rays from sunlight play a crucial role in the synthesis of vitamin D in the human body. Vitamin D is nothing but a fat-soluble vitamin that is essential for maintaining healthy bones, regulating calcium levels, supporting immune function, and other important physiological processes.
The primary way in which UV rays contribute to vitamin D synthesis is through the skin. UV-B rays from the sun have wavelengths between approximately 280 to 315 nanometers (nm). So, when UV-B rays reach the skin, they interact with a form of cholesterol called 7-dehydrocholesterol present in the skin cells.
The interaction between UV-B rays and 7-dehydrocholesterol triggers a chemical reaction in which 7-dehydrocholesterol gets converted into a compound called pre-vitamin D3. By the process of thermal isomerization, pre-vitamin D3 again converts into active vitamin D3, also known as cholecalciferol.
Later, this cholecalciferol is then transported to the liver and kidneys, where it undergoes further transformations to become the biologically active form of vitamin D, known as calcitriol.
Ultraviolet (UV) rays are used in various forms of skin treatment (like psoriasis, eczema, and vitiligo), primarily in dermatology and phototherapy. UV radiation can have both beneficial and harmful effects on the skin, depending on the type of UV rays used, the dose, and the specific skin condition being treated.
UVB phototherapy is a common treatment for psoriasis, a chronic autoimmune skin condition. This form of electromagnetic radiation helps slow the growth of skin cells and reduce inflammation, leading to improvement in psoriasis symptoms. UVB phototherapy can also be used to treat vitiligo, a condition in which the skin loses pigment and develops white patches.
UVB light can stimulate the repigmentation of the affected areas. Similarly, UVB phototherapy can also be used to manage severe eczema that doesn’t respond well to other treatments. It can help reduce itching and inflammation.
Last but not least one on my list of top 5 applications and uses of UV rays in everyday life is Air Purification. We can also use UV rays for air purification in a technology known as UV air disinfection or UVGI (Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation). UVGI is a method of using UV-C radiation to inactivate or destroy microorganisms, such as bacteria, viruses, and mold spores, that may be present in the air.
UV air purification systems consist of UV lamps or LEDs installed within an air handling unit, ductwork, or air purification devices. These lamps emit UV-C light into the airflow, where it can interact with airborne microorganisms. As soon as the air passes through the UV air treatment unit, microorganisms within the air are exposed to UV-C light.
The UV-C light disrupts the genetic material of these microorganisms, effectively neutralizing their ability to reproduce and causing them to die. This technology is especially relevant in hospitals, offices, and public spaces, contributing to better indoor air quality.
Some other Examples of Uses of Ultraviolet Rays in Daily Life
Apart from the above-mentioned one, I am also listing some of a few here:
- Art Conservation
- UV Sterilization in Laboratories
- Insect and Pest Control
- Fluorescent Marking
- Forensics and Crime Scene Analysis, etc.
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