Is working with UV-C light safe?

Research has proven that UV-C light is dangerous not only to microorganisms, but also to humans. The high-energy light can cause damage to the skin and eyes. For this reason, the radiation does not reach the earth's surface through the ozone layer,¹ it is instead blocked. UV-C light, however, can be generated by lamps to use its useful aspects. Because it is dangerous on direct contact, it must be handled with care. In this article, we discuss concepts for using UV-C light safely.

UV-C licht veilig gebruiken

Closed UV-C systems are safe

Nowadays, closed UV-C disinfection boxes are manufactured for disinfection of products and small medical instruments. For safety reasons, the UV-C source in the box can only be switched on when the valve is fully closed, so these types of devices are safe to use. In some boxes, a sensor ensures that the light is switched off when the box is opened.

The correct use of the equipment is, of course, also important. The international trade association recently issued an opinion on this.² In addition to checking the technical aspects of disinfection, in practice it is always about the correct application. To maintain an effective and valid process, it is important to train healthcare personnel and monitor their results.³ It is also interesting to know whether the UV-C light does not damage the materials disinfected with it.

Safe for materials

We know that UV-C light is safe for materials because research has been conducted on air treatment systems and it has been found that plastic filters and pipes are not affected by UV-C light, even after ten years’ exposure. ⁵ Furthermore, there have been no reports of damage to medical instruments, such as endoscopes.⁶ Rigorous tests have shown that 100 double cycles of UV-C disinfection do not affect the integrity of medical ABS or polycarbonate plastic materials, as commonly used in medical devices. The only change that was observed was a slight yellowing – an effect often seen when plastics are exposed to sunlight.⁷

Even damage to sensitive electronics is not to be expected, which is why NASA uses UV-C in its clean rooms and why it is included in the strict disinfection protocols for interplanetary space travel.⁸ This disinfection method can be easily implemented in the healthcare process.

Devices that switch off automatically when motion is detected

Dated publications on UV-C safety measures usually refer to the use of ‘open’ UV-C methods, which can be installed in a fixed place or be moved across in a room.⁹ UV-C devices can be implemented safely when used according to protocol. There are several types of disinfection devices that can disinfect a room. However, these devices must only be used in rooms that are not being used, or alternatively, a motion sensor must be used.

  1. KWF. (N.B.). UV and Sun Strength. Retrieved from
  2. Leds magazine. (s.d.). Iuva releases a fact sheet on covid19 and uvcband disinfection Consulted from:
  3. CDC. (2016). Performance Indicators. Consulted from:
  4. Lindsley, W. G., Martin, S. B., Thewlis, R. E., Sarkisian, K., Nwoko, J. O., Mead, K. R.,& Noti, J. D. (2015). Effects of Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation (UVGI) on N95 Respirator Filtration Performance and Structural Integrity. Consulted from:
  5. Honeywell. (2000) Tech Lit Documents. Consulted from:
  6. CDC. (2019, May 24). Disinfection & Sterilization Guidelines. Consulted from:
  7. Bruurmij, R. (2020, November 18). Medcaptain evaluation report. Data on file, UV Smart.
  8. Cobb, T. C. (s.d.). UV-C Decontamination: NASA, Prions, and Future Perspectives - Travis C. Cobb, 2016. Consulted from:
  9. APHC,US Army Public Health Center (2020, May) Effectiveness and safety of ultraviolet germicidal irradiation lamps used for air and surface disinfection. Consulted from:

Noor Everts
Customer Success Manager