Some UV Rays are Man-made

Attractive young woman tanning in solarium and smiling.
Attractive young woman tanning in solarium and smiling.

The sun is the largest and most-known producer of harmful UV rays on the planet, but did you know that there are some man-made sources of UV light as well? From skin treatments and alternate tanning methods to bug zapping and street lights, UV rays can be found in other places besides the sky.

The second most well-known version of damaging UV rays comes in the form of a tanning bed or tanning booth. This method of tanning is very harmful to the skin and eyes if they are opened while the bed is on. Other than a tanned body with no lines, the tanning bed rays provide medical service to patients with certain skin conditions like psoriasis. The UV rays in a tanning bed are actually helpful to such skin ailments and are used in phototherapy or UV therapy.

Other positive uses for man-made UV rays include uses for a black light. There are different types of black lights that serve purposes. One of these is a bug zapping insect trap. The black light glows blue to draw the bugs in and zap them, but it also emits some UV rays. Black lighting is also used by forensic teams to spot evidence unseen by the naked eye.

Outside lighting like street lamps also contain bulbs that emit UV rays, but there is a trick to the bulbs that protect passersby from UV exposure. These lights are made of two bulbs with the inner bulb projecting UV rays, and the outer bulb filtering the UV exposure from reaching the people below. Many of these lights fail to work if the outer bulb is broken, so exposure should not be an issue.

Though education on UV ray exposure is growing in popularity, and protection methods are becoming more common and more necessary, there are some positive uses for lighting containing UV rays. With simple lighting and bug zapping capabilities, these lighting methods make life a little more convenient, and the added benefit to the medical and forensic communities is an example of the capabilities of understanding UV rays and how to use them for good.

Exercising caution by using sunscreen outdoors and avoiding harmful UV exposure when possible is still strongly recommended. It is comforting to know, however, that even UV rays are not all bad. A little good can be found when you take the time to see it.