Does Full-Spectrum Light Have UV? (Facts Explained)

It’s popular health advice that Ultraviolet (UV) radiation should be avoided. 

Concerning human health, it is not recommended to expose the eye or the skin to UV radiation, except in certain unusual cases. 

Exposure to excessive UV radiation holds adverse effects, which include skin cancer, cataracts, and sunburn (erythema).

UV radiation is also known to deteriorate and fade architectural materials and artworks. On the other hand, full-spectrum lights have many advantages. 

For instance, full-spectrum lights are known to improve the color appearance of artworks – a big reason why museums use full-spectrum lamps.

Considering the importance of full-spectrum light and the adverse effects associated with exposure to excessive UV radiation, it is very important to find out whether full-spectrum light has UV or not.

This article, therefore, explains what full-spectrum light is and whether it has UV radiation or not. Read on.

Full-Spectrum Light

The full-spectrum light is similar to the natural sunlight. Normally, full-spectrum lights have a Color Rendering Index (CRI) of at least 90 and a temperature of 5,000K or above. Full-spectrum light is described as having a purple or bluish cast. 

Full-spectrum lamps are designed to imitate the full electromagnetic spectrum of light, which is most commonly referred to as midday sunlight describing its appearance to the human eye. 

Full-spectrum lamps come in a variety of sizes, voltages, wattages, finishes, and base types.

How Full-Spectrum Lamps Work?

How full-spectrum lightworks depends on the type of full-spectrum lamp used to create it. Nevertheless, there is no technical definition of full-spectrum light.

Hence, it’s difficult to measure what defines a full-spectrum lamp specifically. Generally, full-spectrum light falls within two larger light types – incandescent and fluorescent.

Full-spectrum incandescent lamps make use of a neodymium glass enclosure to filter out some of the more dominant “warm” colors that make regular incandescent light look yellow when compared to sunlight. Full-spectrum incandescent lamps appear purple or lavender when turned off.

On the other hand, full-spectrum fluorescent lamps use a mix of phosphors to reach wider ranges on the Kelvin color temperature scale. Though full-spectrum fluorescent light appears much “whiter” and closer to daylight than the normal fluorescent light when lit, they appear white just like the typical fluorescent lamps when unlit. 

Full-spectrum fluorescent lamps usually have a moderate to high CRI and are also generally designed to represent colors more accurately. Practically, full-spectrum light does not provide the spectrum range and Kelvin temperature that sunlight does, though it is designed to imitate that hue or quality of visible light.

Just like sunlight, the full-spectrum light also produces UV radiation. In fact, some full-spectrum light lamps are promoted as producing UV radiation. Full-spectrum light covers the complete electromagnetic spectrum from infrared to near-ultraviolet.

However, some companies that use full-spectrum lamps now block out these UV radiations through their diffuser screen – you may need to check to be sure.

Also, skin exposure to a fairly narrow band of UV radiation – between 290nm and 315nm – can promote the production of vitamin D, which is vital for proper bone development and maintenance. Nevertheless, dietary sources of vitamin D, such as fish and dairy products, can provide a sufficient amount of vitamin D, which can eliminate the incidence of bone-related problems like rickets. There are also dietary supplements that can supply the necessary vitamin D. All these, therefore, minimize the need for exposure to a fairly narrow band of UV radiation.

Since full-spectrum lights have UV, broad-spectrum lamps are being used as a close substitute to full-spectrum lighting as they do not have UV radiation. Broad-spectrum light bulbs are described as being pure white light. Normally, all broad-spectrum lamps have a CRI of about 82 and a temperature of about 4200K. Most companies now use broad-spectrum lamps as they do not pose any danger of UV radiation. 

Basic Facts about Full-spectrum Lamps

Although full-spectrum light has UV radiation (UVB), the light doesn’t quite emit enough UV radiation that can impact health. In fact, the UVB intensity generated by the full-spectrum light is only equivalent to one minute of natural sunlight every eight hours. Hence, full-spectrum light is not as harmful as people claim.

Also, some brands of full-spectrum lamps produce traces of UVB and a little of UVA. Though full-spectrum light does not produce sufficient Ultraviolet B necessary for vitamin D3 synthesis in reptiles. However, the UV rays from full-spectrum lamps can be useful for improving general light levels in cooler areas of a vivarium.

While most companies that only produce light therapy devices claim that all full-spectrum fluorescent lights produce Ultraviolet radiation, full-spectrum lamps usually require special Ultraviolet phosphors to generate any measurable amounts of UV radiation.

Where Are They Used?

Full-spectrum lights are used in several different applications. They can be used whenever a faithful rendering of sunlight is of primary importance.

They can also be used in plant grow lamps, aquarium lamps, and color-matching lamps.

Museums also use full-spectrum lamps to improve the color appearance of the artwork.

Museums specifically require all radiation shorter than 400 nm to be filtered completely from light sources illuminating environmentally sensitive pieces, such as watercolor paintings, and historical artifacts.

Benefits of Full-spectrum Light

Full-spectrum light offers a wide range of benefits for several applications. Here are some of them:

  • Full-spectrum Light Improves Alertness

This is one important benefit of full-spectrum light. It makes you feel more focused and alert by suppressing melatonin and improving circadian rhythms. Full-spectrum provides a positive association with daylight, which can also be good for psychological well-being. 

  • Full-spectrum Enhances Interior Design

As stated above, full-spectrum light enhances the appearance of indoor spaces, making them look more vibrant. 

While under the usual fluorescent lamps, the human eye is capable of differentiating only about eight shades of each color, the human eyes are capable of recognizing about 50,000 individual shades under natural light, which full-spectrum light mimics.

Full-spectrum light also makes spaces appear more spacious and cleaner by removing shadows that naturally occur at the corners of a room.

  • Full-spectrum Light Maintains Nutrients in Food

Several studies have proven that leafy foods, such as green vegetables, respond to the same day-night light cycle as human bodies. Therefore, when green vegetables are stored under artificial light, they tend to go bad faster. However, when green vegetables are stored under full-spectrum light during the day, they tend to last longer and retain metabolites like chlorophyll and glucosinolates. These metabolites can have powerful anticancer and detoxifying effects on the body.

  • Full-spectrum Light Boosts Learning Rates

Artificial light could actually be damaging students’ academic progress. Comparative studies of schools in both Sweden and the United States show that students absorb and process information faster when they receive ample natural light. One study found that students whose schools used natural lighting progressed 20% faster on standardized math tests and 26% faster on reading tests than students who learn under artificial light.

  • Full-spectrum Light Improves Health

Recent research revealed that moderate exposure to full-spectrum light helps to improve visual health and aid the prevention of certain medical conditions, which include hypertension, pre-diabetes, seasonal affective disorder, multiple sclerosis, and some autoimmune diseases. Full-spectrum light is so beneficial that workplaces that integrated it experienced a decrease in employee sick days by up to 6.5 percent.

  • Full-spectrum Light Boosts Learning Rates

While artificial light could have a damaging effect on students’ academic progress, a recent study showed that students absorb and process information faster and better when they receive ample natural light, which can also be created with full-spectrum lamps. The study showed that students whose schools used full-spectrum light/natural lighting progressed 20 percent faster on standardized math tests and 26 percent faster on reading tests than students who learned under artificial light.

Summary

full-spectrum light has UV radiation. However, the UV is in a very small dose and there are no known negative health effects from the UV radiation produced from full-spectrum lamps.

Nevertheless, UV radiation from full-spectrum lamps can be harmful to many of the materials commonly found in art workshops and architectural spaces.

Although full-spectrum bulbs are getting better at imitating natural light, the best way to ensure consistent full-spectrum light for your building is by incorporating day-lighting into the building design.