What Is a Black Light Inspection?

by Alyssa Pratt; Updated September 26, 2017

Dictionary.com defines a black light as “invisible infrared or ultraviolet light.” Under black light, substances not seen by the human eye may be visible.

Types

According to BeginnersGuide.com, there are two main types of black lights—tube and incandescent. A tube black light is a fluorescent light with a special coating, which blocks out certain rays. An infrared black light is just like a light bulb, but has different light filters.

Function

Black lights work with phosphors—substances that produce visible light when exposed to energy—says BeginnersGuide.com. The UV light from a black light makes phosphors noticeable.

Health Applications

Hotels and restaurants use black light inspections for cleaning. Under black light, you can see stains—such as urine, bacteria and mold—that are not otherwise be visible. Cosmetologists and dermatologists use black light to diagnose or treat skin problems.

Legal Applications

Black light inspections can identify counterfeit money, determine if documents have been altered and assist in forensic investigations. The Checkmate Group says black lights can even detect art forgeries: “Modern paint will fluoresce or glow under a black light (while) older paints will not. Thus, pictures that have been ‘touched up’ with modern paint will glow.”

Benefits

From auto mechanics to NASA engineers—whose black light inspections look for “particulate micro-contamination, minute cracks or fluid leaks,” says NASA.gov—black lights identify weaknesses that could put staff at risk.

About the Author

Alyssa Pratt is a writer currently living in Ohio. Her articles have been published on various websites. She enjoys writing articles that help others to understand or learn new areas of interest. She earned a Bachelor of Science in business from Pensacola Christian College in Pensacola, Fla. in 2006.