UVC light used in making germicidal lamps that emit radiation between 100-280 nm. IT is used in various applications where disinfection is a primary concern, including air and water purification, food and beverage protection, and sterilization of medical instruments. Germicidal light destroys the ability of bacteria, viruses and other pathogens to multiply by deactivating their reproductive capabilities.
The light is harmful to both skin and eyes and it should be ensured the application is designed in a way that prevents exposure to humans or animals. Acute damage is redness of skin called erythema (similar to sunburn). Chronic effects include accelerated skin aging and skin cancer.
Minimize the exposure to the UV light by following these steps:
- Never view the UV lamp directly. Although the more distant you are from the light, the lesser the risk. It is not advisable to look directly at any UV source.
- Keep exposure time to a minimum and keep as far away from the source as practicable.
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): UV radiations can be easily absorbed by clothing, plastic, or glass. IT is recommended to use PPE covering all exposed areas.
- Use UV google or full-face shields: Avoid using prescription or regular safety glasses as they do not protect eyes from UV exposure.
- Cover any exposed skin using lab coats, nitrile gloves, or other lab attire.
- Eye and face protection must be inspected regularly or before each use for damage or defects such as cracks, crazing, bleaching and replace it when necessary.
- Units containing germicidal lamps should be interlocked to prevent access while the lamp is on. All open-source UV lights must be risk assessed.
UV radiation absorbed in the outer layers of the eye- the cornea and conjunctiva lead to painful temporary inflammation, mainly of the cornea known as photokeratitis. Working unprotected for even a few minutes can cause injury. Lab coat such be fastened securely at the wrists and up the neck so that no skin is exposed. Burns to wrists and the neck are not uncommon.