A better understanding of the dual effects of solar UV radiation is essential for the environment and for life on earth. It positively affects the planetary energy balance and it auto-produces the UV filter by photochemistry of ozone in the stratosphere. The polar regions are privileged areas for conducting research to advance our knowledge of the physics and consequences of these topics. The negative environmental effects are dependent on humanly induced polluting activities, such as releasing CFCs into the atmosphere. New habits recently adopted by a large percentage of the world's population have had a great effect on the consequences of UV exposure for human health. Frequent exposure to large areas of the skin, especially during the middle of the day, increases the risk of damage.
Exposure to artificial sources of UV rays, such as tanning beds or other types of UV lamps, has purposely not been discussed here as it is beyond the scope of the paper. However, this is an important issue because doses absorbed from artificial mercury lamps, in many cases used without any supervision by qualified personnel, adds to the UV exposure already received from natural UV doses, which results in an increased risk of skin damage.
For a "correct usage of UV", the words from the Global Solar UV Index—A Practical Guide of WHO (WHO, 2002) are to be noted: "A marked increase in the incidence of skin cancers has been observed in fair-skinned populations worldwide since the early 1970s. This is strongly associated with personal habits in relation to sun exposure and its ultraviolet (UV) component, and the societal view that a tan is desirable and healthy. Educational programmes are urgently needed to raise awareness of the damaging effects of UV radiation, and to encourage changes in lifestyle that will arrest the trend towards more and more skin cancers."
Another topic to be investigated is the absorption of UV rays from artificial sources by employees and professionals working with arc welders or germicide UV lamps. This research requires very fast spectrographs, where the bottom of the spectral range is less than 280 nm, and additional studies on indoor spaces mapping the UV reflecting surfaces that increase the dose by diffuse radiation in the work place.
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