Regardless of what you think about ozone depletion and CFCs, ultraviolet radiation (UVR) is very real. So are its effects. Even if we should see no long term increase in UVR, most places on earth receive more than enough to cause real problems if you often go outside without protecting yourself.
Perhaps the best-known consequences of excessive UVR exposure is erythema, or sunburn. Sunburns can be mild or severe. If you’ve had a severe sunburn, you’ll not likely forget it. Such cases are marked by bright pink or even scarlet-colored skin, swelling, blistering, and exquisite pain. An extremely severe case may also be accompanied by nausea, fever or chills, and tachycardia (a racing heart beat). Because of water lost through the skin, sunburns can also lead to dehydration.
Actually, the painful symptoms of sunburn are caused more by the body’s response to UVR skin damage than by the damage itself. Although no one really understands the whole process, UVR damage apparently triggers an increase of several chemical substances, including prostaglandins and histamines. Both substances contribute to inflammation. Whole body exposure can also lead to increased levels of serum interleukin-1 and interleukin-6, which could partly account for some of the symptoms associated with an extremely severe sunburn.
Sunburn is primarily caused by the UVR wavelengths between about 295 and 320 nanometers (nm). Wavelengths in this range are known as UV-B.1 However, UVR between 320 and 400 nm