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Lighting industry joins forces to offer UV-C light safety guidance

While UV-C has proven to have the germicidal benefits, including killing bacteria and inactivating viruses, uncontained UV-C exposure that is strong enough to kill germs is a risk to people, pets and plants.


August 4, 2020
By Energy Manager Canada
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In light of safety concerns using ultraviolet light as a resource for battling COVID-19 in multiple applications, including HVAC systems, a group including UL, the global safety science company, the American Lighting Association (ALA) and the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) have released a new position paper to bring attention to ultraviolet light device safety risks, and to help manufacturers, retailers and consumers understand which devices are safe and under what conditions they can be operated safely.

The paper, “Ultraviolet-C (UV-C) Germicidal Devices: What Consumers Need To Know, provides a look at the UV-C germicidal devices available to consumers and their potential to cause severe injuries to humans and pets, as well as damage to plants and materials.

“In this current global situation, the growing interest around sanitation and germicidal properties is putting UV-C devices in greater focus than ever before,” said Todd Straka, global industry director of UL’s Lighting division.

Ultraviolet (UV) naturally occurs in three types: UV-A, UV-B and UV-C, all of which have certain benefits and pose certain hazards. While UV-C is the type that has proven to have the most germicidal benefits, including killing bacteria and inactivating viruses, any uncontained UV-C exposure that is strong enough to kill germs is a risk to people, pets and plants.

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“Uncontained UV-C germicidal products used in a healthcare setting do have benefits to help stop the spread of COVID-19. However, unlike those being marketed to consumers, they are used by trained professionals who have taken appropriate safety training and use the appropriate protective equipment to take precautions against UV-C overexposure,” said Terry K. McGowan, director, Engineering and Technology, ALA.