Join the world of fluorescent hues, neon colors, and glowing patterns that are brought to life by blacklight. Blacklights have been around for decades, and their fascinating effects have been adopted in various settings, from concerts to theme parks, the improve the overall experience.
However, while backlights have several positive effects, they can also harm humans and the environment. In this guide, we’ll uncover the technology behind blacklights and discuss how to use them to minimize their negative effects.
What is Blacklight?
A blacklight is a lightbulb with an inner coating that restricts the wavelengths that pass through the glass. It emits very little light visible to human vision. Blacklight emits mostly blacklight radiation, which isn’t visible. However, some pigments and colors absorb the invisible light, causing a glowing effect. These lights are ideal for entertainment, but those with short- and medium-wave UV rays are used by medical professionals, scientists, and forensics.
Uses of Blacklights
Blacklights can be used for various purposes depending on their wavelengths within the UV range. Longwave lights are ideal for diagnosing illnesses or entertainment purposes; medium waves are used by investigators to find counterfeit currency items or body fluids; short waves can kill germs. UV wavelengths are measured in nanometers. The UV spectrum lies between 100-30 nanometers.
Why Does a Blacklight Make Things Glow?
Blacklights are made nearly the same way as regular fluorescent and incandescent lights. The main difference is in the filters, coatings, or glass used in blacklights.
Blacklights use these materials so that most of the light emitted is UV light with a bit of visible light in the wavelengths closest to the UV spectrum. This explains why black lights are usually purple or dark blue.
UV light can’t be seen by the naked eye. When UV light bounces off objects that contain a special chemical called phosphors, impressive things occur. Phosphor is a chemical that emits visible light in response to radiation. Phosphors exposed to UV light become naturally fluoresce or glow. Additionally, although human vision can’t see the UV light as it leaves the blacklight, the UV light reflected to your eyes after hitting the phosphors has less energy and is within the visible range.
Are Blacklights UV?
Blacklights emit a type of UV light called UVA. The UVA blacklight wavelength ranges between 314-400 nanometers. There are other types of UV light that are defined by their radiation wavelengths. The wavelength of UVC light is 100-280 nanometers, and UVB light is 280-315 nanometers. Most UVB and UVC radiation from the sun is absorbed in the ozone layer.
Benefits of Blacklights on Plants
Plants don’t require UV light for photosynthesis, but UV light can affect their growth and development. UV light can also affect leaf coloration, especially in crops with purple leaves. However, exposing plants to controlled UV light stimulates biomass accumulation and enhances their nutritional value.
Although UV light does not increase the rate of photosynthesis, the larger leaves enhance growth because there’s more area for photosynthesis. Plants also need the reflection of UV light on their flowers and leaves to guide and communicate with insects that pollinate them.
Cellular Damage from Blacklight
Exposure to UVA light is only beneficial to a certain extent. Prolonged UV light exposure can damage generic materials. After some minutes of exposure to the environmental stressor, plants enact physiological defenses to protect themselves. These defenses include enhanced production of flavonoids and antioxidants, which repairs cellular damage and helps absorb damaging light.
Although low levels of UV light improve the production of these natural sunscreens, high levels of UVA light damage several cells, which alters the photosynthetic processes, reduces growth, and overwhelms biological coping mechanisms.
Are Blacklights Dangerous?
Blacklights are common in dance clubs, accessory stores, and college dorms. Although their effects range from deeply soothing to ethereal to disturbing, the ultraviolet nature of the light can cause greater harm than the regular bulb.
Although most entertainment professionals and physicists suggest that limited exposure to blacklight won’t cause any harm, recent studies have shown some potential health effects of UV lights. Exposure to UV light, believed to be safe because of its non-ionizing quality, has been associated with possible growths of malignant melanoma. Although no studies have been done to link this effect on humans, recent studies advise limited exposure to blacklights.
The illumination produced by blacklights is similar to sunlight and is safe for the eyes unless you stare at them without protection. In fact, as a UV ray, blacklight is part of a spectrum in the natural sunlight. However, when you maintain prolonged eye contact with blacklight, it may cause permanent retina damage.
Limited exposure to blacklight and UV radiation may limit possible harmful effects. However, it’s not how frequently or how long your eyes are exposed to such light that matters. Studies have shown that retinal damage results from exposure to these wavelengths, regardless of frequency or duration.
Some studies have shown that UV radiation can lead to photokeratitis and conjunctivitis. Photokeratitis is the inflammation of the eye’s cornea, while conjunctivitis is the inflammation of the membrane covering the inside of the eyelids and the whites of the eyes. The eye-watering that happens because of these conditions can cause blurry vision.
Cellular debris buildup in the retina can make your eyes sensitive to damage from light exposure. Cataracts are generally the eyes’ defense mechanism. This pearl-like, cloudy effect reduces UV radiation damage to the retina and greatly limits vision.
Safety Precautions When Using Blacklights
Since blacklights have a possibility of eye damage, people should not stare at them. If you are in an area with repeated and prolonged exposure, you should wear protective eyewear with yellow-tinted lenses. The yellow tint will block blue light waves in the near-UV spectrum or HEV, which are linked to macular degeneration. UV light can also lead to skin damage and potentially cause skin cancer. However, experts claim that occasional exposure to blacklights is not harmful.
Blacklights come with both positive and negative effects on the environment and humans. Therefore, it is advisable to use blacklights responsibly and take the necessary precautions to reduce their negative effects. This may include using blacklights in well-ventilated areas, wearing protective eyewear, and disposing of them properly.