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FDA issues warning on the use of UV light against SARS-CoV-2

August 28, 2020

UV light disinfection systems have experienced a rise in popularity and an increased presence in the news and social media since the start of the pandemic. Individual households, healthcare facilities, hotels and more are all beginning to use UV light as a way to fight against the novel coronavirus.

However, many are not aware that these systems are not registered by any regulatory body, like the EPA or the FDA. UV companies misleadingly claim that their systems can disinfect or sterilize and are effective against SARS-CoV-2, when there is little evidence to support this. In response, the FDA has recently published a caution to consumers regarding the efficacy of UV disinfection systems.

Below are some of the key issues raised in the FDA’s notice:

  • A virus must be directly exposed to UV radiation in order to inactivate it. If the UV light is obstructed by contaminants such as dust, soil, blood or other bodily fluids, a virus or bacterium will not be inactivated. UV systems will also be ineffective if any part of a surface is covered in shadows or is not directly exposed to UV because of irregularly shaped equipment.
  • The dose of the UV light as well as the duration of exposure to the surface will affect whether or not a virus or bacterium can be inactivated. The specific type of UV light also matters as UVB and UVA radiation are less effective than UVC radiation. 
  • There is limited published data on the effectiveness of UV radiation on its ability to inactivate SARS-CoV-2. The appropriate wavelength, dose and duration to inactivate SARS-CoV-2 is unknown.

Read the full FDA notice here.