Global Lighting Association cautions over UV-C

face masks under blue ultraviolet light
The Illuminating Engineering Society and the International Ultraviolet Association have partnered to assemble experts in the measurement of ultraviolet C-band emissions (UV-C) to develop standards for the measurement and characterisation of UV-C luminaire performance.

THE GLOBAL Lighting Association has added its voice to debate on the use of ultraviolet light to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

It says it is becoming increasingly concerned at the proliferation of disinfecting devices based on ultraviolet lighting – particularly being sold on the internet – with dubious safety features and inadequate safety instructions. 

This week the association issued a position statement containing guidelines for the safe use of UV-C devices. 

It said germicidal ultraviolet irradiation ‘is a proven methodology’ for inactivating viruses on solid surfaces, in water and in air. 

‘As such it is expected to be a useful tool in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic’. 

UV-C is a category of ultraviolet light with wavelengths between 100-280 nanometres and is the most effective UV light for disinfection. 

The GLA said: ‘While UV-C is helping to contain viruses, if not used properly it can pose risks to human health’. 

GLA ‘is concerned at the proliferation of UV disinfecting devices with dubious safety features and inadequate safety instructions’. 

Standardisation bodies are expected to develop comprehensive standards for the safe operation of UV-C devices. 

However, the GLA cautioned that this process will take many months, if not years. 

In the interests of public safety, as an interim measure the Global Lighting Association brought together industry experts and developed guidelines to assist users and manufacturers pending publication of these standards. 

The GLA paper echoes advice from the Illuminating Engineering Society, which weighed into the debate about the coronavirus and ultraviolet lighting in April.

IES scientists confirmed that a particular section of ultraviolet light – shortwave ultraviolet light from 200 to 280 nanometres, termed UV-C – can kill the coronavirus at the right dose.

However, the IES cautioned against using UV-C lights to disinfect surfaces, and recommends that the lighting industry concentrate its efforts on disinfecting the air instead.

‘While UV-C could be a secondary infection control measure for disinfecting potential germ-carrying deposits on accessible (not-shadowed) surfaces, its great value would be in disinfecting air in areas where this may be a concern’.

Examples could include intensive care wards.

‘Upper-air germicidal ultraviolet is the safest, most effective application of UV-C. 

‘In special locations, where viral transmission is highly likely, whole-room UV germicidal irradiation from suspended fixtures directing UV-C downward could be applied, provided strict precautions can be followed. 

Interest in UV-C lighting has soared since the coronavirus outbreak. Earlier this month, 3,000 individuals from 59 countries watched a four-hour long IES webinar on the subject, making it the highest attended event in the history of the organisation.

  • The Global Lighting Association position statement on germicidal UV-C Iirradiation: UV-C Safety Guidelines may be downloaded HERE.