Ultraviolet Light: Friend or Foe?

“Harmful UV rays” is a phrase we hear about often, especially during the sunny days of late spring and summer. UV – ultraviolet light – rays are associated with a wide spectrum of negatives, including sunburns, skin cancers, climate change, and more. But what exactly is ultraviolet light and is everything about it bad?

UV light is …

Ultraviolet light is a type of electromagnetic radiation emitted by the sun and is one portion of the spectrum of sunlight that warms the earth. Think of all sunlight as every radio frequency available through your car’s radio. UV light comprises just a station or two of the frequencies your radio can receive.

Other frequencies of electromagnetic radiation emitted by the sun include radio waves, microwaves, infrared, visible light, x-rays and gamma rays. Each form of electromagnetic radiation is defined by its specific frequency.

It’s easy to be confused by the idea that visible light and radio waves or x-rays are all related; it helps to understand that the visible light we are all accustomed to is one form of electromagnetic radiation, just as are radio waves, microwaves and other frequencies.

Electromagnetic radiation is dangerous, right?

Certainly, various forms – or frequencies of electromagnetic radiation can be dangerous or lethal. For example, the human body can only tolerate limited exposure to x-rays as overexposure can cause organ and tissue damage, brain damage and various cancers.

But these forms of electromagnetic radiation can, when used correctly, have enormous benefits. X-ray generated images are an indispensable medical diagnostic tool. Microwaves are used by microwave ovens to heat food or in communication. Radio waves are used by not only radios, but by radio telescopes, which have enabled astronomers to learn much about the universe.

However, as with most things, electromagnetic radiation – ultraviolet light included – can have downsides.

Ultraviolet light and your home

Ultraviolet light has clear benefits. For example, for nearly 50 years it has been used to disinfect homes and medical facilities as it is highly effective in killing germs, bacteria, viruses, and mold spores.

But, in addition to skin cancers and other health issues caused by overexposure to sunlight, UV light can also be extremely destructive to your home.

Extensive exposure to high levels of UV light can damage a host of materials in your home. For example, many plastics can be damaged – at times rapidly – by UV light, which breaks down their chemical structures. Over time these plastics become brittle and break. Remember, many items are from a composition standpoint, plastics even though you may not think of them as “plastics.” These can include luxury plank vinyl flooring, carpets and rugs, some coatings on wood flooring, some furniture or furniture components and décor items.

That intense sun streaming in through your windows can quickly break down those items, often leaving them faded or in many cases, cracking. It’s not unusual for homes with larger windows to have easy to see faded wood flooring or carpeting, for example.

How can homes be protected from UV light damage?

The most effective way to combat UV light damage is to prevent it from entering your home. Shutters, shades and blinds are exceptionally effective at blocking UV rays – and sunlight – completely. However, most homeowners prefer to have sunlight coming in through their windows and to have a view of the outside world.

Custom window treatments can balance the need to protect your home from harmful UV rays with your desire to enjoy a view of the outdoors. Our custom window treatments are tailored to not only fit your windows precisely, but also to enable you to control the amount of light that comes into your home.

This means shutting out, partially or entirely, the intense sunlight of a July afternoon, while opening those treatments in the morning or late afternoon. They can be programmed to open and close at specific times, or you can control them remotely with a smart phone as part of an integrated smart home system.

These systems can not only protect your home from UV rays, these can also provide additional privacy and security, even when you’re out of town.

The bottom line is our wide selection of window treatments are more than decorative, they’re functional décor elements.

We are here to help!

We offer scores of blinds and custom window treatments and our experienced décor experts can help you learn more about protecting your home from UV light damage. Visit our new showroom – located at 11477 Page Service Drive, St. Louis, MO 63146 – the perfect place to shop for window treatments of all types, or schedule a consultation with our team. Quality matters, especially to the discerning customer. Let us show you why our window treatments will make a difference for you, your home, or your business.