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Sources and measurement of ultraviolet radiation

Lookup NU author(s): Emeritus Professor Brian Diffey


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Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is part of the electromagnetic spectrum. The biological effects of UV radiation vary enormously with wavelength and for this reason the UV spectrum is further subdivided into three regions: UVA, UVB, and UVC. Quantities of UV radiation are expressed using radiometric terminology. A particularly important term in clinical photobiology is the standard erythema dose (SED), which is a measure of the erythemal effectiveness of a UV exposure. UV radiation is produced either by heating a body to an incandescent temperature, as is the case with solar UV, or by passing an electric current through a gas, usually vaporized mercury. The latter process is the mechanism whereby UV radiation is produced artificially. Both the quality (spectrum) and quantity (intensity) of terrestrial UV radiation vary with factors including the elevation of the sun above the horizon and absorption and scattering by molecules in the atmosphere, notably ozone, and by clouds. For many experimental studies in photobiology it is simply not practicable to use natural sunlight and so artificial sources of UV radiation designed to simulate the UV component of sunlight are employed; these are based on either optically filtered xenon arc lamps or fluorescent lamps. The complete way to characterize an UV source is by spectroradiometry, although for most practical purposes a detector optically filtered to respond to a limited portion of the UV spectrum normally suffices. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science (USA). All rights reserved.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Diffey BL

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Methods

Year: 2002

Volume: 28

Issue: 1

Pages: 4-13

ISSN (print): 1046-2023

ISSN (electronic): 1095-9130

Publisher: Academic Press


DOI: 10.1016/S1046-2023(02)00204-9


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