Get your UV right! - Skin / Eye damage from UV-C

EdSavoie

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Oct 19, 2016
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Windsor, ON, Canada
News Article


Thought this would be worthwhile to put up.

Those in attendance at an event in Hong Kong were left with skin and eye damage after (blame unclear) a contractor used UV-C band tubes.

The running theory is that someone unaware of the different UV bands selected the UV-C tubes because the lack of dark glass and phosphor makes an admittedly nice effect.

For those who are unaware, there are three main UV bands that lights come in.

UV-A : This is the kind you want. ("BLB") class tubes fall into this category, coated in black glass.
("BL") class tubes have white phosphor-coated glass, and intended to attract insects, though they can work for blacklight purposes...

UV-B : This is going into burn territory, please don't use these tubes. (Though it could be worse.)
Tanning bed lamps, despite producing 95% UV-A still pump out about 5% UV-B and thus should be avoided.

UV-C : Germicidal tubes.
Very bad, this is what the above linked event made the mistake of using.
 

JD

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Jan 1, 2005
Location
North Wales PA
I was going to say (but you covered it later),
"What, were they trying to disinfect the crowd?"
UV-C's are used in water purification systems (and many other disinfecting systems) to kill organisms. Unfortunately, we ARE organisms! (Admittedly, rather large ones ;) )
PS: Love BigClive! His videos are educational (most times) and always quite funny!
 
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cbrandt

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Michigan
I'd forgotten about this post. I was listening to a couple month old Science Friday article about some research that was done showing that it is safe to use UV-C to combat flu in public areas. I wonder if they're using a different intensity or wavelength

Science Friday - UV-C
 
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EdSavoie

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Windsor, ON, Canada
Interesting, though I've got a million alarm bells going off...

First off, this doesn't address that the UV-C bulbs produce ozone, which in a ventilated room isn't a huge issue (perhaps this specific wavelength doesn't do that?)

Someone with eye problems, ie: dry eyes, could forSEEably have issues. Anyone with an open cut would have that inner layer of flesh in that area nuked (Although it would be sanitized.)
 

JD

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Jan 1, 2005
Location
North Wales PA
I'd forgotten about this post. I was listening to a couple month old Science Friday article about some research that was done showing that it is safe to use UV-C to combat flu in public areas. I wonder if they're using a different intensity or wavelength

Science Friday - UV-C
Would have some concerns. If you block the light so it isn't hitting anybody, you still have the ozone issue. Ozone breaks down real fast, so I could see it being used to disinfect public areas while they are not in use, but once people are there, I can't see them being used. Something outside of that wavelength would not be effective killing things. In using that wavelength, we must remember we are one of those "things."
 
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StradivariusBone

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Would have some concerns. If you block the light so it isn't hitting anybody, you still have the ozone issue. Ozone breaks down real fast, so I could see it being used to disinfect public areas while they are not in use, but once people are there, I can't see them being used. Something outside of that wavelength would not be effective killing things. In using that wavelength, we must remember we are one of those "things."
Saw on reddit the other day someone posting a unit that is used to disinfect hospital rooms, so it is commercially viable on a large scale. It seemed like the room was cordoned off while the machine did its thing. Your comment on ozone reminded me of the air purifiers that were all the rage a few years back with ozone generators built in. I thought it was stupid since ozone is harmful to inhale and pairing it with a device that is designed to purify your air seemed a bit counterproductive.
 
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JD

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Jan 1, 2005
Location
North Wales PA
Yikes!! Well, I hope that thing is turned on by remote and outside of the room! Also hope the photographer was shooting through a window. So much UV and Ozone, it looks like a human bug zapper!
 
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mikefellh

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Nov 25, 2017
Location
Toronto, Canada
Here's one you can buy for sanitizing smartphones (they say phones are dirtier than a toilet)...the lights don't actually come on until you close the lid (opposite of a fridge), and stays on for 10 minutes:


There are also UV sanitizers for toothbrushes: