NEA advises public not to buy UVC sterilisers with no safety features against radiation

·Editorial Team
·3 min read
UVC lamp for sterilization - COVID-19 prevention concept
UVC lamps for sterilisation. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — The National Environment Agency (NEA) has advised households not to use disinfection sterilisers based on Ultraviolet-C (UVC) technology that do not have safety features against radiation.

It said in a media release on Tuesday (23 November) that such disinfection devices have seen a growing demand and increasing availability since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic last year.

However, it said that exposure to UVC radiation due to inappropriate use or unsafe sterilisers can cause eye or skin injuries, such as UVC damage to the cornea, with burning sensations and sensitivity to light, as well as burns resulting in redness and peeling of the skin.

"Many such sterilisers marketed for home use lack safety features that protect users from unintended or accidental exposure to UV radiation," NEA said in its media release. 

"To prevent accidental exposure and health risks, members of the public are advised not to purchase any UVC steriliser products that have no safety features."

Purchase only sterilisers with proper safety engineering features

The agency said that UVC-based disinfection should be applied only in an industrial/commercial setting with appropriate safety features and safe use practices.

It advises users to avoid direct skin exposure to UVC radiation and avoid looking directly into a UVC light source. The public should purchase only sterilisers where the UVC sources are properly contained with safety engineering features that prevents users from being exposed to the radiation.

Examples of such safety engineering features are:

  • For portable UVC lamps/desk lamps: Safety features, such as motion sensors, would automatically switch off the UVC source when a person/animal approaches it. Such safety features prevents the user and others in the vicinity from any accidental exposure to UVC radiation.

  • For handheld UVC steriliers/portable UVC wands: Safety features, such as gravity sensors, would automatically switch off the UVC source when the device faces upward. Such safety features prevents the user’s eyes from being exposed to UVC radiation. When using such devices, the UVC light should not be directed at user’s skin or eyes.

  • For UVC bulbs/tube lamps: Safety features, such as motion sensors, would automatically switch off the UVC source when a person/animal approaches it.

  • For UVC disinfection boxes: There should be safety features to switch off the UVC light when the disinfection box is open.

If a UVC steriliser does not contain any safety engineering features mentioned above, users are advised to stop using it immediately, especially if the product is intended for use on the skin.

Removing listings of unsafe UVC sterilisers

NEA has been working with major retailers to remove listings of unsafe UVC sterilisers. To date, approximately 8,000 listings of unsafe UVC sterilisers have been removed from online sales platforms. 

The public is advised to continue exercising discretion and vigilance when purchasing UVC sterilisers, given the vast number of retailers that may advertise on online sales platforms from time to time.

For more information on NEA’s guidelines on UVC sterilisers, please refer to this link. For other alternative disinfection methods for the home setting, please refer to NEA’s list of active ingredients and household disinfectant and cleaning products for disinfection of the COVID-19 virus.

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