Did you know that there are different types of ultraviolet (UV) radiation emited from the sun? The WHO identified three types of UV radiation called UVA, UVB, and UVC rays. They are classified by their wavelength and differ in their ability to penetrate the skin.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, the two most common types of UV radiation are UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays have the longest wavelength and penetrate the skin much deeper than UVB rays. UVA rays are strongly associated with immediate tanning effects, aging, and the development of skin cancer. On the other hand, the medium-wavelength UVB rays penetrate and damage the outermost layers of the skin. As such, overexposure to UVB rays are mostly associated with sunburns and delayed tanning.
The last type of UV radiation is UVC rays, which have the shortest wavelength but are the most damaging. The reason you’ve probably never heard of UVC rays is they hardly reach the surface of the earth. The Earth’s atmosphere is quite protective and UVC rays are filtered by the ozone layer before we have a chance to be exposed to them.
While each type of UV radiation is associated with its own biological activity, prolonged exposure to any kind of UV radiation is associated with the development of skin cancer and skin damage. When spending time outside, it’s important to protect yourself by using sunscreen and wearing protective clothing!
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