Due to the thermal nature of IR waves, we are constantly exposed to them from the sun in the form of heat. However, human-made sources of IR radiation, such as heated metals, electrical equipment, radiant heaters, and glassblowing, can also contribute to its spread and are thus deemed dangerous.
Because of the human and environmental dangers posed by these electromagnetic radiations, proper safeguards must be implemented. Here are some of the consequences of infrared radiation exposure and how you can reduce their effects.
Health Effects of Infrared Radiation
Visible light poses no threat in most situations; hence there is typically no need to continuously monitor visual light outputs. However, most people have an adverse response, including blinking and moving their head, when immediately exposed to a very bright visible light source.
Of course, there are situations in which exposure to visible light can be dangerous, such as when it is quickly introduced, like in a flash or explosion, or when machinery is initially turned on. Your body’s defenses won’t withstand damage inflicted in less than 0.25 seconds of the flash.
Two significant health effects that call for ir protection include skin and eye damage.
It’s important to note that infrared radiation is just as harmful to the skin. Because IR radiation transfers heat to the skin, it can cause a temperature increase there.
Visible light, microwaves, infrared, and other forms of electromagnetic radiation are significantly amplified to form laser beams. Light from a laser is so intense that it can melt metal; therefore, it’s safe to assume that it can also harm human flesh.
Workers in certain occupations, like welders, risk developing permanent eye damage. The human eye is exceptionally vulnerable to high-frequency electromagnetic energy. The lens and the cornea can be damaged by exposure to high electromagnetic radiation levels, including infrared radiation.
Different wavelengths have different effects, harm thresholds, and damage pathways.
Here are some of how the intensity affects your eye:
Thermal injury to the cornea: The heat transfer rate from the exposed tissue is a crucial factor in the severity of thermal damage. Tissue coagulation occurs only after prolonged, high-level exposure.
When the heat generated by the exposed area is negligible, the surrounding tissue can channel the heat away. Higher temperatures are typically required to achieve the same level of damage with a shorter exposure time. Thermal and photochemical damage can result from, for example, being accidentally exposed to arc lamps or the sun.
Irreversible Retinal Damage Caused by Prolonged Exposure to Blue Light: Retinal damage from blue light can occur after exposure to an exact brightness for a short or prolonged duration. Sunlight’s spectral brightness has been measured, and staring directly at the sun might cause you to get too much blue light exposure. Avoid looking straight at the sun at all costs.
The retina can be damaged even by “normal” or “average” exposure to the sunshine outside. A leading cause of blindness in the elderly is age-related macular degeneration, which can be exacerbated by a lifetime of exposure to the blue light spectrum or possibly the entire visible spectrum of ambient sunshine.
Exposure to infrared radiation may also result into:
- Cataracts are the most prevalent ailment of the eye caused by near-infrared radiation. Lens opacity from IR exposure develops slowly but permanently over time.
- Scotoma is a sort of vision loss caused by injury to the retina. After even minimal IR absorption, symptoms including redness, swelling, and bleeding might appear.
Exposure control for infrared radiations
If you find or experience a light hazard in your workplace, then you need to consider the following Ir protection measures:
Substitution or Elimination
When deciding whether or not to expose workers to a light hazard, it is essential first to determine if the operation can be modified to eliminate risk or if a less hazardous light source may be utilized in its place. If elimination or substitution is not practicable, or if the threat is not reduced to an acceptable level, engineering measures should be considered.
Precautions to Take Engineering measures, such as filters, screens, specialist rooms, and curtains, can be utilized to significantly lessen or eliminate the dangers posed by light.
The intensity of short-wavelength light or infrared sources should be mitigated as much as possible by enclosing, shielding, or orienting them out of sight. Remember that glossy surfaces can reflect optical radiation like visible light and IR, so use a matte finish to cover the walls.
Use Personal Protective Equipment
Personal protective equipment might be employed as a stopgap, especially when all other methods of reducing exposure have been exhausted or while waiting for more permanent measures. Preventative measures against light risks can include using protective eyewear and clothing.
Depending on your risk analysis, the preventive measures and ir protection equipment may include the following:
Face shields: Work involving infrared radiation (such as welding) necessitates using full face shields. And you can use them in conjunction with regular eye goggles.
Even better, employ green lenses due to their ability to absorb some visible, UV, or IR radiation. Besides, various lenses are color-coded to indicate their amount of protection from potentially damaging sunlight.
Gloves: The hands are the most immediate contact point between the welder, welding arc, and workpiece. Insulation from heat is essential for welders as protection against ultraviolet (UV), infrared (IR), and visible light wavelengths. Consider gloves made of tightly woven material that can help prevent the penetration of high-level IR and UV.
Finally, safety equipment must be cleaned between uses or assigned to each individual. Safety goggles and masks should be checked for damages like crazing, bleaching, or cracks before each use or regularly.
After prolonged exposure, infrared radiation can cause damage to several parts of the body, including the cornea, the skin, and the eyes. Therefore, when working in industries that put you in danger of being exposed to light and heat radiation, it is imperative that you always wear shielding and protection gear.