A UV test is a test to measure the exposure to ultraviolet light. Ultraviolet light, or UV, is a term used to describe electromagnetic radiation with ultraviolet waves shorter than light visible to humans. UV light is present in sunlight and can cause chemical reactions in certain materials. This reaction causes them to glow, which is called fluoresce. UV tests look at the ultraviolet spectrum for commercial uses and ultraviolet detection for UV protection.
Commercial uses for a UV test are to determine color fastness in products. A sample is sent to a UV test lab where it is subjected to ultraviolet exposure in a controlled environment. A solar simulator is used to create ultraviolet radiation and simulate months or years of exposure.
Paint that would be exposed to long periods of sunlight such as exterior building paint or automobile paint can be tested to determine how long the paint would last. This allows manufacturers to modify, if necessary, the chemicals used in their products. The UV test also allows manufacturers to promote the level of UV resistance the product has on its packaging.
Textiles manufacturers also use UV testing to determine how long the product will remain color fast. If dyes incorporated into the manufacturing process fade too soon, the product may begin to degrade. Understanding the lifespan of the dye helps companies produce better products. This is also used for other materials such as plastics and paper.
Another commercial use for a UV test is photo stability. This refers to how chemicals react when exposed to sunlight. Pharmaceuticals can be affected and specifically not be as effective if exposed to sunlight. UV testing helps understand what changes can occur during exposure that may be harmful or cause hazardous reactions.
UV detection is also used for human health. Overexposure to UV rays can cause skin cancer and sunburn. UVA rays are the most common and are the rays used to tan. Since UVA rays are the leading cause of skin cancer, tanning salons use a UV test to make sure the tanning beds are properly calibrated.
UVB rays are more intense than UVA rays and are often the cause of sunburn. It affects the outermost layers of the skin and can be detected through a radiometer. A radiometer is used to measure the levels of ultraviolet radiation. It does this by determining how much radiation has been converted to energy. The higher the temperature in the radiometer, the more radiation present.