EUROPA > DG Health and Consumer Protection > Public Health  Contact | Search | What's New? | Subscribe | Site Map | Index 
Energy Saving Lamps home
Source document:
SCENIHR (2008)

Summary & Details:
GreenFacts (2009)

Energy-Saving Lamps & Health

2. How does light, infrared and UV radiation interact with skin and eyes?

Interaction with skin and eyes depends on the wavelength of
                                        the radiation
Interaction with skin and eyes depends on the wavelength of the radiation
Source: GreenFacts

Light is essential to life on Earth and affects humans and other living organisms in various ways. The interaction of light with our skin and eyes influences our perception of warmth and cold. The changes in the level and colour of light throughout the day and across different seasons help the body regulate periods of rest and activity.

The way electromagnetic radiation interacts with matter depends on its wavelength and therefore its energy. Radiation of short wavelength (below 200 nm, such as UVCs) has high energy and can set off damaging chemical processes in living cells. If DNA is damaged in this way, it can lead to mutations and potentially induce cancer. Radiation of longer wavelength is usually harmless, although it can warm up the tissue exposed.

When radiation reaches the skin or the eyes, it can be reflected or it can penetrate the tissue and be absorbed or scattered in various directions. The fate of this radiation in the body depends on its wavelength:


The Three-Level Structure used to communicate this SCENIHR Opinion is copyrighted by GreenFacts asbl/vzw.