FDA discourages use of UV lights vs COVID-19

Caecent No-ot Magsumbol (The Freeman) - November 25, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has strongly advised the public against the use of ultraviolet (UV) light for disinfection following World Health Organization’s warning on the health hazards it can cause to humans.

According to WHO, exposure to UV radiation can cause skin irritation and damage to the eyes.

The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation (ICNIRP) also does not recommend UV lamps for consumers or personal use. The FDA through Republic Act 9711 or the FDA Act of 2009 is mandated to regulate radiation devices such as UV emitting devices.


As per FDA, UV radiation is typically classified into three (3) wavebands with varying effects to human health.

UB bands include UV-A (100-280 nanometers, UV-B(280-315 nm), UV-C(100-280 nm).

UV-A has been associated with skin aging and other effects, UV-B causes sunburn, skin cancer and cataracts, while UV-C though commonly used in “germicidal” or disinfection laps is also associated with sunburns and eye injury known as photokeratitis.

Photokeratitis is a painful eye condition caused by exposure of insufficiently protected eyes to the ultraviolet rays from either natural or artificial sources. It is akin to a sunburn of the cornea and conjunctiva.

US’s FDA also reported that UVC radiation has been shown to destroy the outer protein coating of the SARS-Coronavirus and may also be effective in inactivating the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is the virus that causes COVID-19.

Many UVC lamps sold for home use are at low dose accordingly, that it will take longer exposure to a surface before it can be effective and instead causes human skin or eye injuries especially if not properly installed.

Instead of using UV lamps for disinfection, the public is urged to observe the health protocols endorsed by the Department of Health (DOH) like proper handwashing, coughing/sneezing etiquette, and social/physical distancing. — FPL (FREEMAN)

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