The human nose is incredibly sensitive and can detect molecules at concentrations as low as one part per billion. After a UV sterilizer is used, it emits an odor that is often described as the scent of burnt hair or a pungent smell similar to rotten eggs or garlic. This last smell is characteristic of mercaptans. It is important to note that this smell can be harmful to babies. The smell is actually a chemical called benzene, which is a known carcinogen.
Benzene is a natural by-product of the disinfecting agent in a UV sterilizer and is toxic. It can cause headaches, dizziness, and nausea. Babies are particularly vulnerable to benzene because they cannot smell it and will be exposed to it for an extended period of time. When the oven is turned on, people often describe a metallic smell. This smell is likely due to ozone gas, which has germicidal properties.
UV-C lights produce ozone that will accumulate indoors and circulate throughout the house when the oven is turned on. Most people will smell ozone at concentrations of around 0.01 parts per million (ppm). When ozone stops smelling, its concentration should be below 0.01 ppm. Medical devices that produce ozone must not exceed 0.050 ppm, as regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. When UV-C light hits metals, it has enough energy to eject electrons from many metals, particularly aluminum.
In short, using these lights within the system should not be hazardous and any metallic odor that is detected may be due to the production of ozone gas by UV-C lights. UV disinfection has become increasingly popular in recent years due to its effectiveness in killing germs and bacteria. It is important to understand the potential risks associated with using UV sterilizers, such as the smell of benzene and ozone gas. By understanding these risks and taking proper precautions, you can ensure that your home or office remains safe and healthy.