Ultraviolet is an electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength from 10 nm to 400 nm, shorter than that of visible light but longer than X-rays. UV radiation constitutes about 10% of the light output of the Sun. It is also produced by electric arcs and specialized lights, such as lamps, tanning lamps. Consequently, the effects of UV are greater than simple heating effects. Suntan, freckling and sunburn are familiar effects of over-exposure, along with risk of skin cancer. Living things on dry land would be damaged by ultraviolet radiation from the Sun if most of it were not filtered out by the Earths atmosphere. More-energetic, shorter-wavelength extreme UV below 121 nm ionizes air so strongly that it is absorbed before it reaches the ground, Ultraviolet is also responsible for the formation of bone-strengthening vitamin D in most land vertebrates, including humans. The UV spectrum thus has both beneficial and harmful to human health. Ultraviolet rays are invisible to most humans, the lens in a human eye ordinarily filters out UVB frequencies or higher, and humans lack color receptor adaptations for ultraviolet rays. Under some conditions, children and young adults can see ultraviolet down to wavelengths of about 310 nm, near-UV radiation is visible to some insects, mammals, and birds. Small birds have a fourth color receptor for ultraviolet rays, this gives birds true UV vision, reindeer use near-UV radiation to see polar bears, who are poorly visible in regular light because they blend in with the snow. UV also allows mammals to see urine trails, which is helpful for animals to find food in the wild. The males and females of some species look identical to the human eye. Ultraviolet means beyond violet, violet being the color of the highest frequencies of visible light, Ultraviolet has a higher frequency than violet light. He called them oxidizing rays to emphasize chemical reactivity and to them from heat rays. The terms chemical and heat rays were eventually dropped in favour of ultraviolet and infrared radiation, in 1878 the effect of short-wavelength light on sterilizing bacteria was discovered. By 1903 it was known the most effective wavelengths were around 250 nm, in 1960, the effect of ultraviolet radiation on DNA was established. The discovery of the ultraviolet radiation below 200 nm, named vacuum ultraviolet because it is absorbed by air, was made in 1893 by the German physicist Victor Schumann
Two black light fluorescent tubes, showing use. The longer tube is a F15T8/BLB 18 inch, 15 watt tube, shown in the bottom image in a standard plug-in fluorescent fixture. The shorter is an F8T5/BLB 12 inch, 8 watt tube, used in a portable battery-powered black light sold as a pet urine detector.
9-watt germicidal UV lamp, in compact fluorescent (CF) form factor