Ms. Other's thinking heads in a kind of sensible direction, but at the last second it veers to the left and over a cliff.
Dear Matthew Alice: Last weekend I went with my significant other to one of those night entertainment spots where they have quite a few of those "black,lights,” the ones that give off a purplish glow and make your light-colored clothes glow in the dark. She says these ultraviolet lights are harmful to our eyes, especially because in the low-light environment, our pupils are wide open. I said that if these lights were harmful in any way, they would be banned by OSHA and Cal-OSHA for use in any public place. Can you settle this difference of opinion? (At her insistence, we went to a place without these lights to continue our evening of entertainment.) — No Name Please, Garfield High School
Ms. Other seems gloomily overinformed. For a while her thinking heads in a kind of sensible direction, but at the last second it veers to the left and over a cliff. Let’s set her straight before your social life is reduced to nothing but eye doctor visits. Black lights do emit UV radiation similar to the nasty rays from the sun that cause cataracts, sunburn, and skin cancer. But assure Ms. Hot Date that she’s at greater risk shopping at the mall than she is boogying at a day-glo dance club. Cal-OSHA has no regulations concerning black light use, manufacturers say they’re safe, and two local ophthalmologists concur. The sun’s exponentially more powerful than any wimpy dance club light, and you spend a whole lot less time under black lights than in sunlight. One manufacturer says that when he works for many hours installing a black light effect in a club, he’ll wear UV-protective sunglasses and sunscreen, but the average dancing fool doesn’t have a thing to worry about. According to one physician I talked to, the only known risk from dance club lights is for people with an extremely rare form of epilepsy who might be sent into convulsions by the flashing strobes. Of course, the line between dancing and convulsions is a fine one these days. Maybe no one would even notice.