Release of a CIE Position Statement on the use of Ultraviolet (UV) Radiation to Manage the Risk of COVID-19 Transmission

May 12, 2020
The CIE position statement summarizes two publications related to ultraviolet (UV) C-band radiation for the purpose of controlling the COVID-19 virus.

International interest in the use of ultraviolet radiation (UVR) to manage the risk of COVID-19 transmission is large and growing rapidly with each day of this global pandemic. Because of this CIE has published a Position Statement (PS) following on from the two CIE publications related to UV-C applications that were recently made freely available. Combined these have been accessed over 10000 times in the past two months!

This new CIE PS summarizes these two publications noted above and gives the most recent insights in this field, to explain the most important aspects around the use of UVR, in particular UV-C (ultraviolet radiation covering the range from 100 nm to 280 nm) to manage and control transmission of this infectious disease.

Key take-away points from this PS are:

  • UV-C is extremely useful in disinfection of air and surfaces or sterilization of water. However, CIE and WHO warn against the use of UV disinfection lamps to disinfect hands or any other area of skin (WHO, 2020).

  • UV-C can be very hazardous to humans and animals and should only be used in carefully controlled circumstances using well-designed products, ensuring that the limits of exposure as specified in ICNIRP (2004) and IEC/CIE (2006) are not exceeded. However, the risk of skin cancer from devices that emit only UV-C is considered negligible.

  • UV-C can cause photodegradation of materials and this should be considered where susceptible materials, such as plastics are in the exposed environment. 

  • More research is urgently needed on the safety aspects of novel UV-C sources, especially with respect to safety thresholds to avoid photokeratitis (”sunburn” of the cornea). 

  • For proper UVR assessment and risk management, appropriate UVR measurements are essential.

  • UV-C products aimed at general consumers may not be safe to use or may not be effective for disinfection.

The CIE Position Statement can be downloaded from the CIE Website and it will be followed-up with a short explanatory webinar in the days to come.

Note for all of us staying at and working from home in these challenging times:

Check the CIE recommendations for healthy indoor light conditions and the use of proper light at the proper time to optimally benefit from light’s non-visual effects on sleep, health and wellbeing:


CIE - International Commission on Illumination


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