Final Opinion on
Biological effects of UVC radiation relevant to health with particular reference to UVC lamps
The Opinion focuses on the assessment of risks associated with UV-C radiation from lamps.
A public consultation on this opinion was opened on the website of the non-food scientific committees from 29 July to 30 September 2016. Information about the public consultation was broadly communicated to national authorities, international organisations and other stakeholders. Each submission was carefully considered by the SCHEER and the scientific opinion has been revised to take account of relevant comments. The literature has been accordingly updated with relevant publications.
Content of the Opinion
The part of the ultraviolet radiation emitted in the wavelength range 280 nm–100 nm is called UV-C; this radiation is used in a growing number of applications, which include disinfection of water and air, food-industry processing, and air-conditioning. Although most appliances are sealed systems there is now increasing use of devices where consumers may be directly exposed to UV-C radiation.
Based on the review and assessment of relevant scientific data, the SCHEER concluded that:
- Adverse effects to the eye and skin in humans are reported mainly from accidental acute exposure to high levels of UV radiation from UV-C lamps.
- Mechanistic studies suggest that there are wavelength-dependent exposure thresholds for UV-C regarding acute adverse effects to human eyes and skin, except for erythema. However, quantitative estimation of these thresholds could not be derived from currently available data.
- Due to the mode of action and induced DNA damage similarly to UV-B, UV-C can be considered carcinogenic to humans. However, the currently available data do not allow quantitative cancer risk assessment of exposure from UV-C lamps.
- UVC lamps emitting radiation at wavelengths shorter than 240 nm need additional risk assessment of the associated production of ozone in the environment. More data are needed on the exposure of general population and workers from UV-C lamps and generated ozone.
- Research is needed on long-term stochastic effects such as cancer.