The Sun has played a major role in the development of life on Earth. In Western culture, people are warned against Sun exposure because of its adverse effects: erythema, photoimmunosuppression, photoageing, photocarcinogenesis, cataracts and photokeratitis. However, Sun exposure is also beneficial, since moderate doses give beneficial physiological effects: vitamin D synthesis, reduction of blood pressure and mental health. Shortage of Sun exposure may be even more dangerous to human health than excessive exposure. Avoiding Sun exposure leads to vitamin D deficiency which is associated not only with rickets and osteomalacia, but also with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, influenza, many types of cancer and adverse pregnancy outcomes. Solar radiation induces nitric oxide release in tissue and immediate pigment darkening which certainly play important roles, although these are still unknown. Action spectra relevant for health are described. We will also review what is known about spectral and intensity variations of terrestrial solar radiation as well as its penetration through the atmosphere and into human skin and tissue.
Subject classification (UKÄ)
- Atom and Molecular Physics and Optics