Ultraviolet radiation (biology)
Giese, Arthur C. Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford, California.
- Photobiological effects
- Effects of ultraviolet on the skin
- Clinical use
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
Electromagnetic radiation in the wavelength range of 4 to 400 nanometers that affects biological organisms. The ultraviolet portion of the spectrum includes all radiations from 4 to 400 nanometers (nm). Radiations shorter than 200 nm are absorbed by most substances, even by air; therefore, they are technically difficult to use in biological experimentation. Radiations between 200 and 300 nm are selectively absorbed by organic matter, and produce the best-known effects of ultraviolet radiations in organisms. Radiations between 300 and 390 nm are relatively little absorbed and are less active on organisms. Ultraviolet radiations, in contrast to x-rays, do not penetrate far into larger organisms; therefore, the effects they produce are surface effects, such as sunburn and development of D vitamins from precursors present in skin or fur. The effects of ultraviolet radiations on life have, therefore, been assayed chiefly with unicellular organisms such as bacteria, yeast, and protozoa, although suspensions of cells of higher organisms, for example, eggs and blood corpuscles, have been useful as well.
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