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1 UV-C-lamps: could something that kills bacteria and viruses also harm you? settings to sterilise instruments, work are only few studies on exposure to WHAT IS UV-C?  surfaces and the air. humans under normal conditions of Usually, mercury-vapor lamps are use. There is also insufficient data UV-C defines the used for generating germicidal UV-C. on long-term exposure to UV-C ultraviolet radiation from lamps. UV-C, like the other Technological advances have now made wave the within it possible to have UV-C light emitting wavelengths of ultraviolet light, is length range of 280 diodes (LEDs) as well, which has led to considered to be carcinogenic to to 100 nanometres. an even larger number of applications, humans, but there is not enough Most people have data to conduct a quantitative including in medical devices. heard of the dangers cancer risk assessment of exposure of UV-A (400 - 315  from UV-C lamps. WHAT’S THE CONCERN ABOUT nm) and UV-B (315 - 280 nm) exposure UV-C LAMPS? from the sun or from sunbeds. UV-C is MORE RESEARCH IS NEEDED  also produced by the sun, but it is the Although most of appliances using UV-C shortest of the ultraviolet wavelengths As stated, more studies are needed lamps are sealed systems that prevent and is almost entirely filtered out by the exposure, devices that may directly on exposure to UV-C under normal atmosphere before reaching the earth’s expose consumers to UV-C radiation conditions and on long-term surface. Therefore, people have little or exposure and health effects, such are increasingly placed on the market. no natural exposure to it, and that’s a as cancer. More research should With a greater range of applications - good thing. The shorter the wavelength, like the small solar cells developed for also be conducted on another the more impact ultraviolet radiation individual use to disinfect drinking water concern connected with the use of could have on human health. in developing countries - comes a greater UV-C lamps, namely the fact that risk of accidental exposure or misuse. at wavelengths shorter than 250 WHY IS UV-C USED IN LAMPS?  nanometres, they produce ozone, Several incidents of skin or eye damage which is emitted out into the resulting from accidents have been Artificially-produced UV-C has been environment. reported, which prompted the European used successfully as a germicide and Commission to ask the Scientific bactericide for decades. It can kill or Committee on Health, Environmental disable the growth of micro-organisms and Emerging Risks (SCHEER) to conduct like bacteria, viruses and other This factsheet is based on the a risk assessment. pathogens, and it provides a chemical- Opinion of the independent Scientific free alternative to other disinfection Committee on Health, Environmental ARE UV-C LAMPS SAFE?  methods, like using chlorine. Due to its and Emerging Risks (SCHEER) on effectiveness and advantages, UV-C is «Biological effects of UVC radiation UV-C lamps have been used for many being used for an increasing range of relevant to health with particular decades with only a few known incidents applications. It is used, for example, for reference to UVC lamps». caused by accidental exposure or misuse. disinfection in wastewater treatment February, 2017 Their use has safeguarded human health plants, laboratories, air-conditioning by sanitising water, air and surfaces and systems and even pools and aquariums preventing people from contamination. as well as in various stages of food and However, the SCHEER cannot reach a beverage industrial processes. UV-C This opinion is available at: conclusion on their safety because there is also used in medical and hospital https://ec.europa.eu/health/ scientific_committees/scheer/ Health and opinions_en Food Safety

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