Acute and Chronic Effects of Ultraviolet Radiation, Visible Light, and Infrared

Authored by: Saroj M. Verma , Gillian M. Murphy

CRC Handbook of Organic Photochemistry and Photobiology

Print publication date:  March  2012
Online publication date:  March  2012

Print ISBN: 9781439899335
eBook ISBN: 9781466561250
Adobe ISBN:


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The term electromagnetic spectrum is used to encompass a broad range of radiation, from cosmic rays to radiowaves. Each type of radiation is made up of a range of wavelengths, and each wavelength comprises photons. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation, visible light, and infrared are specific terms for separate wavelength ranges within the electromagnetic spectrum and have been defined by Commission Internationale de l’Eclerage (CIE). In order to discuss the in vivo effects of radiation, it is necessary to understand one of the first principles of photobiology, that is, in order to have biological effect, a photon must be absorbed by a molecule termed “a chromophore” (Figure 61.1). Each chromophore has an individual absorption profile. The in vivo effects of radiation, or the “biological efficacy,” depend on which wavelength is absorbed. This “action spectrum” has been defined for a number of different endpoints, which include erythema, thymine dimer formation, and skin cancers (Figure 61.2). UV radiation has both acute and chronic effects on the skin, the eye, and the immune system.

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