Not only since Corona has the question been raised: Can viruses and bacteria be killed by exposure to UV-C? The scientific evidence is very clear: Yes, it can. However, studies on the health risks posed by germicidal UV radiation (GUV) are just as undisputed. A position paper of the International Commission on Illumination (CIE) summarises the current state of research, points out application scenarios and risks - and in particular advises against the use of UV-C devices that directly expose people to the radiation. As the German market leader for technical lighting, TRILUX does not currently offer germicidal UV-C devices, but is considering the development of air purification devices, for example for air conditioning systems in hospitals, schools or offices.

The sun not only emits radiation in the visible range - i.e. with a wavelength between 400 and 780 nanometers - but also in the UV spectrum between 100 and 400 nm. Although UV radiation is not visible to the human eye, it is responsible for a broad spectrum of effects, ranging from tanning the skin and vitamin D production to harmful aspects such as sunburn, skin cancer or damage to the retina. Depending on the wavelength and physiological effect, a distinction is made between UV-A (400 - 315 nm), UV-B (315 - 218 nm) and UV-C (280 - 100 nm). The shorter the wavelength, the higher the energy levels. UV-C is therefore the most powerful UV radiation, but that is not the only thing that makes this radiation so effective. Under natural conditions, UV-C radiation is already filtered out by the atmosphere, while the longer-wave UV-A and UV-B rays can pass through to a larger extent. The problem is that through natural exposure to UV-A and UV-B radiation, humans and nature have developed protective mechanisms against damage caused by these wavelength ranges in the course of evolution. Due to the "lack of experience", it has not yet been possible to establish appropriate mechanisms for UV-C. This is a fact that helps in disinfection, but requires special precautions with regard to human health.

UV-C – lethal, handle with care

The sterilizing effect of UV-C radiation is well documented in the scientific literature. Due to the corona pandemic, supply and demand, in this area, have currently increased considerably. The CIE position paper underlines the effectiveness of professional disinfection by UV-C, which has been successfully used for over 70 years, for example for water sanitization or in ventilation systems. At the same time, the CIE warns against the use of UV disinfection devices for hands or other skin areas without medical indication and explicitly points out the health risks. Recommended UV-C solutions must meet the strictest safety regulations and comply with the legally required exposure levels (ICNRIP - International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection). Despite - or perhaps because of - the current high demand, UV-C disinfection systems are an interesting market for TRILUX. "With our know-how in technology and design, corresponding high-quality and safe solutions can be developed without any problems. We are currently evaluating whether and to what extent it makes sense to expand our product range with UV-C solutions," explains Dr. Sebastian Knoche, Research Manager at the TRILUX Center of Innovation.