In a press release issued on Friday, April 24, the International Ultraviolet Association warned the public of the dangers of attempting to use UV light on the human body to rid it of the COVID-19 virus.
“There are no protocols to advise or to permit the safe use of UV light directly on the human body at the wavelengths and exposures proven to efficiently kill viruses such as SARS-CoV-2. UV light under the conditions known to kill such viruses are also known to cause severe skin burns, skin cancer, and eye damage.” The warning follows earlier advisories from Lysol and Clorox that ingestion or injection of these and similar products is harmful.
UV technology is now being tested in several anti-COVID applications, including the decontamination of used N95 respirator masks. In a COVID-19 fact sheet, the Association notes that “COVID-19 infections can be caused by contact with contaminated surfaces and then touching facial areas (less common than person-to-person, but still an issue). Minimizing this risk is key because COVID-19 virus can live on plastic and steel surfaces for up to 3 days. Normal cleaning and disinfection may leave behind some residual contamination, which UVC can treat suggesting that a multiple disinfectant approach is prudent.”
The Association “believes that UV disinfection technologies can play a role in a multiple barrier approach to reducing the transmission of the virus causing COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, based on current disinfection data and empirical evidence. UV is a known disinfectant for air, water and surfaces that can help to mitigate the risk of acquiring an infection in contact with the COVID-19 virus when applied correctly.”
But while powerful light – in the form of ultraviolet radiation — may be highly useful in terms of disinfecting inanimate surfaces where COVID-19 might be present, its potential negative effects on the human body are not to be underestimated. The Association warns that such exposure “can cause skin irritation, damage to the cornea, and cell mutations leading to cancer.”