Is UV Light Sterilization Safe?
Deep ultraviolet (UVC) light emitting diodes (LEDs) are an irradiation source and require a user to observe due precautions to guarantee safe usage according to UV light safety precautions.
We always give information to familiarize users with the current understanding of some of the general practices and precautions most often suggested in the literature for UV irradiation sources.
Currently, there are no workplace-related rules and regulations set by the Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA) in regards to UVC environmental health and safety.
Biological Effect of UV Light
Even though UVB radiation is widely recognized for its harmful effects on human skin and links to skin cancer, each of the UV bands (UVA, UVB, and UVC) creates various risks for humans.
UVC radiation, even that emitted by a handheld UV light sterilization, is extremely short in human skin so that almost no UVC radiation can reach the living cells in the skin. It is worth noting that all the absorption occurs in the dead cell layers.
UV Light and Health Effects
The UV variety of the electromagnetic radiation spectrum covers 10 nm to 400 nm. UV radiation may harm the eyes and skin, depending on the wavelength and time of exposure.
The UV spectrum is separated into four parts, including UVA (315 nm to 400 nm), UVB (280 nm to 315 nm), UVC (200 nm to 280 nm) and UV Vacuum (100 nm to 200 nm). Decreasing wavelengths match up with higher frequency radiation and a higher amount of energy per photon.
UVC Effect on Human Skin
Even if you are using a handheld UV sterilizer, some of the acute (short-term) UVC effects for UV light exposure include redness or ulceration of the skin. At high levels of exposure, these burns can be lethal. For chronic (long-term) exposures, there is also a cumulative risk that depends on the amount of exposure during your lifetime. The long-term risk for large cumulative UV exposure comprises premature aging of the skin and skin cancer.
Response to UV Exposure
Acute effects exposure to UV radiation are usually not severe, and many symptoms are delayed, even if you are using a handheld UV light. In the event of UV exposure, the following immediate actions are recommended.
- Visit an ophthalmologist if eye damage is suspected.
- Treat skin lesions instantly.
- Follow your organization’s EHS incident reporting process. These often need documentation of the date and time of the incident, persons involved, equipment involved, and type of injury.
Resources and References: