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Term Paper - Geology 108- Crises of a Planet Term Paper 16...

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Geology 108- Crises of a Planet Term Paper 16 October 2007 Awareness of UV exposure, effects, and protection for the 21 st century Abstract The 21 st century is a time marked by ozone depletion, mass urban pollution, and industrial production. As a result of our changing environment, UV exposure has increased, thus putting the world and ourselves at risk. This paper explores what UV rays are, when UV rays are most harmful, the damages they can cause, and most importantly, how we can protect ourselves from them. UV rays are ultraviolet radiation waves, which are intensified by factors such as ozone depletion, season, weather conditions, and altitude. Although sunlight, which causes our bodies to produce vitamin D, is essential to our bodies, too much exposure can cause much harm. Both UVA and UVB light has the potential to alter our DNA and cause skin cancer, the most common cancer in the United States. Other possible effects could include sunburn, premature aging, damages to the immune system, and damages to the eyes that could result in blindness. We can begin better protecting ourselves though selecting higher quality sunglasses, sunscreen, and clothing. This essay explores these three accessible means of sun protection, which can be easily incorporated, into a new sun-safe lifestyle.
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What are UV Rays? UV, or Ultraviolet, rays are waves of electromagnetic radiation, which are invisible to the naked eye. It is called Ultraviolet because its wavelength is slightly shorter than the wavelength used to make the color we perceive as purple, or violet. The Sun emits three types of Ultraviolet radiation, which are distinguished by their wavelengths, measured in nanometers: UVA (320nm- 400nm), UVB (290nm-320nm), and UVC (Shorter than 280nm). The shorter the wavelength, the more dangerous the radiation is to humans, thus UVC rays are the most harmful. However, UVC rays are almost completely absorbed by normal oxygen and receiving UVC rays from the sun is not currently a direct threat. UV Exposure There are five other main factors influencing UV intensity. The first is the amount of ozone in the atmosphere. The more ozone in the air, the less the UV radiation is allowed to penetrate to ground level where we live. The Earth’s ozone layer acts as a natural filter to allow around 1% of the sun’s UV rays in. However, this percentage is increasing, as humans release Chlorofluorocarbons (CFC’s), which rise into our atmosphere where our ozone is. When the UV light hit’s these CFC’s, Chlorine and Bromine form, which then attack the oxygen molecules which make up the ozone layer. It is estimated that for each 1% of ozone depletion, there will be a 2% rise in UVB that reaches the Earth’s surface. Second, the position of the sun correlates to the intensity of UV’s. UV exposure is at it’s
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This note was uploaded on 03/22/2008 for the course GEOL 108Lg taught by Professor Anderson during the Fall '07 term at USC.

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Term Paper - Geology 108- Crises of a Planet Term Paper 16...

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