CIE: new Position Statement on use of UV radiation to manage the risk of Covid-19 transmission

At the end of March CIE made two of its key publications concerning the use of UV for disinfection freely available in order to support the international community seeking ways to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.


The CIE has now issued a new Position Statement on Ultraviolet (UV) Radiation to Manage the Risk of COVID-19 Transmission.

CIE Position Statement on the use of Ultraviolet (UV) Radiation to Manage the Risk of COVID-19 Transmission

International interest in the use of ultraviolet radiation (UVR) to manage the risk of COVID-19 transmission is large and growing rapidly with each day of this global pandemic. As an indication, the earlier PS documents have been accessed over 10000 times in the past two months! 

This new CIE Position Statement summarises the two earlier publications noted above and gives the most recent insights in this field, to explain the most important aspects around the use of UVR, in particular UV-C (ultraviolet radiation covering the range from 100 nm to 280 nm) to manage and control transmission of this infectious disease.

The takeaway points of the new Position Statement are as follows:

  • UV-C is extremely useful in disinfection of air and surfaces or sterilization of water. However, CIE and WHO warn against the use of UV disinfection lamps to disinfect hands or any other area of skin (WHO, 2020).
  • UV-C can be very hazardous to humans and animals and should only be used in carefully controlled circumstances using well-designed products, ensuring that the limits of exposure as specified in ICNIRP (2004) and IEC/CIE (2006) are not exceeded. However, the risk of skin cancer from devices that emit only UV-C is considered negligible.
  • UV-C can cause photodegradation of materials and this should be considered where susceptible materials, such as plastics are in the exposed environment. 
  • More research is urgently needed on the safety aspects of novel UV-C sources, especially with respect to safety thresholds to avoid photokeratitis (”sunburn” of the cornea). 
  • For proper UVR assessment and risk management, appropriate UVR measurements are essential.
  • UV-C products aimed at general consumers may not be safe to use or may not be effective for disinfection.
  • The CIE Position Statement can be downloaded from the CIE Website and it will be followed-up with a short explanatory webinar in the days to come.

The underlying takeaway from this is that any UV germicidal lighting needs to be designed and managed by professionals who are competent in their field. If you are considering the use of UV lighting within a project (or any other antimicrobial lighting treatment) make sure that you’re dealing with people who know what they are talking about.

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