Kate Yuhas
Honorable Mention, Middle School - 2009 Imagine That! Engineering Innovation
The Cure to Vitamin D Deficiency

solariumWhat can help prevent MS, high blood pressure, and several autoimmune diseases? The answer to that question would be Vitamin D, which you can get in three ways: food, supplements, and the sun. 70 percent of Americans lack adequate amounts of Vitamin D. The reason is that people just don’t get enough sun. That’s why my invention would be so helpful. It is a special tanning booth that only gives out the specific amount of UVB rays, the type of UV rays that is needed to produce Vitamin D, which you need.

Normal tanning booths in tanning salons emit mostly UVA rays, which causes skin cancer, as well as many other afflictions, such as eye damage and immune system changes. In fact, the UVA rays that they release are 2 to 3 times more powerful than those from the sun, which makes these tanning beds quite dangerous. In higher latitudes, many people use lamps to receive the necessary amounts of Vitamin D. This tanning bed might be more comfortable to people who would rather not stand in their underclothes or swimsuits in an open room.

In the tanning bed, there are black lights which give off UV radiation in the wavelengths of 320- 290 nanometers. Current UV lights are inefficient and get hot during use. Engineers will have designed new UV lights that are more efficient and are cooler, which are used in this invention. They are good for the environment, and won’t burn you while you are using the tanning bed.

You would only be in the tanning bed for 5 minutes, even though 15 minutes is the recommended amount of time that you should be in the sun, to receive adequate amounts of Vitamin D. Since it is only emitting UVB rays, you need much less exposure to receive the right amount. Human skin is permeable by UV rays, so you can absorb the rays that are emitted from the black lights.

All the tanning booths, like current ones, will use high frequency choke ballasts. Choke ballasts restrict the amount of energy flow into the lamps, and a high frequency one makes the fluorescent lamps use a higher frequency, and thus less energy and heat.

There are some drawbacks to tanning. You could get sunburned, which could lead to skin cancer. The dosage of five minutes for once or twice a week, though, wouldn’t be enough to induce much damage. These tanning booths would be used with or in place of supplements and fortified food. It is a quick procedure, which would be less expensive than the government providing supplements or fortifying the food with Vitamin D.

Engineers would have an important role in creating these tanning beds. You would have to find a way for the black lights to filter out UVA and UVC rays, so that only UVB is given off. Also, new and more efficient lamps could be invented, so that running them wouldn’t be so costly. They could even create a way for the UVB fluorescent lights to be interchangeable with the ones that are used for cosmetic procedures. That way the tanning salons would only have to buy a new set of lamps.

A deficiency of Vitamin D could have a bad effect on your health. When you don’t have enough Vitamin D, you don’t absorb calcium very well, which would lead to bone diseases. Tens of thousands Americans die each year from cancer partly due to a deficiency of Vitamin D. Vitamin D is vital to our body functions, and we need to make sure that we get enough of it. These tanning booths, with the use of supplements or fortified food, would make certain that we get enough of those vitamins, especially for people living in higher latitudes.


Works Cited

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UVB http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tanning_bed