Ultraviolet-C (UVC) Germicidal Devices: What Consumers Need to Know
Ultraviolet (UV) testing and certification
In the current global situation, questions surrounding sanitation, germicidal properties, and UV devices are more in focus than ever before. Safety considerations around the use of UV lighting and radiation are critical when so many new products are entering the markets of lighting, appliances, consumer products, healthcare and more.
UVC radiation has sanitizing properties and has many uses in commercial, healthcare, and consumer settings. UVC has germicidal benefits, depending on exposure dose (based on strength, proximity and time). However, there are serious risks to UVC exposure, so safety precautions are essential.
A critical term to keep in mind when discussing UVC is containment, which refers to a set of design criteria in which people are not exposed to excessive UVC but the germs are. You will see "containment" used throughout this site in reference to the design criteria. In consumer oriented germicidal devices containment is achieved by locating the UVC source within the product enclosure. In contrast, germicidal devices intended for use by trained professionals in controlled settings may have exposed UVC sources. With these designs, product and site safeguards and intended use are considerations for evaluation and certification.
These different approaches relate to higher risks of improper use (intentional or otherwise) by consumers who may not follow (or understand) safety warnings on the product or the packaging. In contrast, trained professionals are expected to follow safety instructions and use necessary protective equipment.
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Consumer UVC germicidal devices are entering the market rapidly because of an increased demand for sanitizing and germicidal capabilities in the face of COVID-19. But are they all safe? Read our latest position paper to learn more.
Can UL help me achieve safety certification for my UV product?
UL offers a path to safety certification for most commercial and healthcare UVC devices, and specific types of consumer UVC devices. UVC products intended for use by trained professionals in controlled settings are evaluated based on product and site safeguards and their intended use. Trained professionals are expected to follow safety instructions and use necessary protective equipment.
UL can certify eligible UVC (180-280 nm = UVC short-wave) devices for safety using UL Standards for the product type. Where the Standard does not already include photobiological safety requirements for UVC, ACGIH, ANSI/IES RP-27 or IEC 62471 for photobiological assessments will apply.
Work with UL to help ensure that your products meet the requirements to safely use UVC light, with proper labels to warn users of the dangers of exposure and photobiological assessment to address personal injury concerns for UVC.
Remember that safety certifications address risks like electric shock, fire and personal injury but safety certifications do not address efficacy claims. (For performance claims, see UL Verify information below.)
The resources on this page can serve as a starting point to understanding the risks, containment criteria and basic certification information for various UVC product types. UL has integrated services to help you navigate the safe deployment, use and maintenance of UVC devices. Contact us to discuss the specifics of your product and path forward.
Please refer to the chart below to see which UVC products in consumer, commercial, and healthcare applications are eligible for safety certifications.
|Type of UVC Device||Sample Image||Environment||Assessing the risks||Safety Certification(s)|
Home-use portable sterilizer
Marketed to clean a room in the home, with or without a timer
|Consumer||Portable equipment with uncontained UV source. UV overexposure risk is addressed via integral safeguards;
||UL 8803 Outline of Investigation
IEC 62471 for photobiological assessment
|Personal portable sterilizer/wand
Marketed to be handheld and moved over surfaces to sterilize
|Consumer||UVC is NOT contained — it may produce ozone. Device may be used by untrained persons unfamiliar with the risks involved.
There is a risk that people and pets could accidentally be exposed to UVC and be injured, and ozone may be emitted. The exposure dose to people can be far above acceptable levels and can cause injury. Integral timers or proximity and orientation sensors pose concerns with accuracy and reliability of these safeguards as well as opportunities for misuse or bypass.
Stationary (non-handheld) products for use in an unoccupied area with specific safeguards may have a path to safety certification.
|NOT eligible for certification for consumer use; for medical and professional applications, contact UL to discuss.|
|Home-use air cleaners with internal (contained) UVC
Marketed to homes and offices
|Consumer||UVC is contained
The UVC source is inside the product enclosure and a safeguard disables the UVC when an access door is opened.
|UL 507 for electrical investigation; standard includes personal injury requirements for UVC based on ANSI RP-27 for photobiological assessment.|
|Portable UVC sterilization box
Marketed to clean cell phones, small personal devices
|Consumer and Commercial||UVC is contained
The UVC source is inside the enclosure; opening the door will disable the UV source. Testing would ensure that any UV “leakage” will be within safe exposure dose limits.
|UL 73 for electrical investigation; standard includes personal injury requirements for UVC based on ANSI RP-27 for photobiological assessment.|
|Upper room (UVGI)
Mounted out of easy reach, typically 2.3 m (7 feet) from floor
|Commercial||Permanently mounted, i.e., fixed, equipment intended to be installed and operated in non-residential locations. UVC containment is achieved based on product design features, plus site safeguards.||UL 8802 Outline of Investigation
IEC 62471 for photobiological assessment
|Commercial/industrial heating and ventilation
May also be found in home settings
|Commercial||UVC is contained inside the air duct and not visible
Access is restricted to qualified personnel during installation and service. The design also includes other product safeguards such as ON/OFF switch and interlock switch
|UL 1598 (or UL 153) and UL 1995 for electrical investigation; UL 1995 includes personal injury requirements for UVC based on ANSI/IES RP-27 for photobiological assessment|
|Water treatment plants
UVC disinfects the water as an alternative to chlorination
|Commercial||UVC is contained inside a water vessel and not visible
Access is restricted to qualified personnel during installation and service.
|UL 979 for water treatment equipment
ANSI RP-27 for photobiological assessment
Used in hospital operating rooms as a secondary tool for disinfection
|Healthcare and Commercial||UVC containment is achieved by limiting access to the space so people are not present during disinfection.
In addition, the equipment includes reliable safeguards and is operated by staff with training for its proper use.
|In healthcare facility and laboratory settings – UL 61010 for electrical investigation; the standard references IEC 62471 for photobiological assessment to address personal injury concerns for UVC.
In commercial settings – UL 73 for electrical investigation; standard includes personal injury requirements for UVC based on ANSI/IES RP-27 for photobiological assessment.
(may have regular lights in addition to UV emitters)
|Healthcare and Commercial||Permanently mounted, i.e., fixed, equipment intended to be installed and operated in non-residential locations. UVC containment is achieved based on product safeguards, trained staff and site safeguards.||UL 8802 Outline of Investigation
IEC 62471 for photobiological assessment
|UV Lamps and Components
(Ballasts, LED drivers, UV light sources, Controls & Sensors)
|Components||Components for use in UVC equipment and germicidal systems; contact UL to discuss the specific use and design as well as the intended operation, e.g., within luminaires or only within equipment designed specifically for germicidal applications.||Various, as applicable|
Can UL help me measure UV performance?
All products are eligible for performance testing such as photobiologic, photometric and ingress testing. Performance can be assessed with or without a safety certification and will not include a UL Mark. Contact us to discuss specific performance measurements and risk categories.
UL also offers the UL Verify program in which marketing claims made by a brand about their products, processes, systems or facilities are tested and verified by UL as credible.
Nonmedical UVC products
The use of UVC devices in schools, offices, hospitality/entertainment, food services, airports/transportation/car services and many other locations are a key focus for building owners, facilities managers and administrators alike.
Anyone involved with germicidal and disinfecting products should be interested in the safe use of UVC devices related to lighting, HVAC, appliances and other product categories. From functional safety to predictive modeling and robotic technology, UL can help you navigate the use of UVC in enclosed products, UVGI applications, open air technology and more.
Personal hygiene, healthcare and medical products
The use of UVC devices in hospitals and healthcare settings, research laboratories and other locations are a key focus for facility and lab managers, EHS and administrators alike. The use of UVC devices for healthcare and personal hygiene include the home environment as well.
Anyone involved with germicidal and disinfecting products should be interested in the safe use of UVC devices related to medical, healthcare, and personal health and hygiene. From functional safety to predictive modeling and robotic technology, UL can help you navigate the use of UVC in enclosed products, UVGI applications, open air technology and more.
“[Our UVC] project was a great example of the cooperative and collaborative relationship our two organizations have built. My compliments to UL for taking the lead on this important issue.”