The Dangers of Working with UV Light: An Expert's Perspective

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a form of non-ionizing radiation that is emitted from both the sun and artificial sources, such as tanning beds. While it has some benefits for people, such as the creation of vitamin D, it can also cause health risks. UV light can cause skin burns and skin cancer on unprotected skin. It can also reflect off shiny surfaces, such as stainless steel, so it is important to be aware of the potential dangers when working near equipment with the UV light on.

Environmental Health & Safety can help measure UV emissions and evaluate personal protective equipment to determine its protection against UV rays. UV germicidal lamps, such as those from biological safety cabinets (BSCs) and those in air conditioning treatment systems, are designed to emit UV-C radiation due to their ability to kill bacteria and molds. However, UV light sources are also found in the workplace, including laboratories, machine rooms, and workshops. If there is a possibility that the eyes and face may be exposed to UV radiation, a polycarbonate face protector with the ANSI Z87.1-1989 UV certification should be used to protect the eyes and face. Equipment that uses UV light in BSCs, germicidal lamps, transluminators, and Wood's lamps can have harmful effects.

Access to the UV light zone must be controlled by using visible warning labels and signs in the rooms, and making sure that all laboratory workers are aware of the danger. Caution labels are available from the EHRS or may be available from the manufacturer of the UV light product. Exposure is controlled by using the personal protective equipment described above and never by directing UV light toward the face. In any case, workers should pay close attention to the warning labels and ensure that the UV lights are turned off before entering or working on the unit.

Jared Whitesinger
Jared Whitesinger

Infuriatingly humble music evangelist. Incurable tv scholar. Hipster-friendly food buff. Subtly charming twitter scholar. Wannabe zombie evangelist.