What are the negative effects of infrared radiation?

1 Answer
Jul 15, 2015

Infrared radiation damages the eyes and the skin and contributes to the greenhouse effect.


1. Eye damage

The human eye is sensitive to all radiation, including infrared radiation.

IR raises the internal temperature of the eye, virtually “baking” it.

Prolonged IR exposure can lead cataracts, corneal ulcers, and retinal burns.

Don't stare at the sun!

2. Skin Damage

The infrared radiation in the sunlight damages skin.

In direct sunlight, the temperature of human skin rises to about 40°C as it converts the absorbed IR into heat.

The result of a brief exposure is sunburn.


Prolonged IR exposure induces new blood vessels to form from pre-existing ones in the skin.

It causes unusual growth and migration of skin cells and changes structural proteins in the skin, and this adds to premature skin ageing.

4. Greenhouse effect

The earth’s surface and the clouds above it absorb radiation from the sun’s rays and re-emit it as infrared radiation back out into the atmosphere.

When the air above the earth’s surface has a high concentration of oxides of sulfur and nitrogen, water vapour, and chemicals such as chlorofluorocarbons, the infrared radiation becomes trapped on the earth.

The trapped radiation causes increased temperatures and changes in weather that could be harmful to people and animals.