Don't buy or use ultraviolet-C disinfection devices for homes, NEA warns

SINGAPORE – Households should not use ultraviolet-C (UVC) disinfection devices for their homes as many lack safety features that protect users from exposure to UV radiation, the National Environment Agency (NEA) warned on Tuesday (Nov 23).

The agency advised the public not to purchase any UVC steriliser products that have no safety features, to prevent accidental exposure and health risks.

It added that UVC-based disinfection should only be applied in an industrial or commercial setting with appropriate safety features and safe use practices.

Exposure to UVC radiation due to inappropriate use or unsafe sterilisers can cause eye or skin injuries. These include damage to the cornea, with burning sensations and sensitivity to light, as well as burns resulting in redness and skin peeling.

“Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been growing demand for and availability of UVC disinfection devices,” NEA said in its advisory.

Households purchasing such sterilisers for disinfection purposes should choose only those with safety engineering features that prevent users from being exposed to UVC radiation.

For example, motion sensors for portable, tube, and desk lamps as well as bulbs, that automatically switch off the UVC source when a person approaches them, would prevent accidental exposure.

Gravity sensors for handheld UVC sterilisers and portable UVC wands that automatically switch off when the device faces upward would protect the user’s eyes.

For UVC disinfection boxes, there should be safety features to switch off the UVC light when the disinfection box is open.

NEA advised users to avoid direct skin exposure to UVC radiation and avoid looking directly into a UVC light source.

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It also urged those who have purchased a UVC steriliser without any safety features to stop using it immediately, especially if it is intended for use on the skin.

“NEA has been working with major retailers to actively remove listings of UVC sterilisers that are unsafe and pose risk of exposure to UVC radiation,” it added.

“All physical stores and online sales platforms have been advised not to sell UVC steriliser products that are unsafe for consumers.”

About 8,000 listings of unsafe UVC sterilisers have been taken down from online sales platforms.

Amazon, Carousell, ezbuy, Qoo10 and Shopee have been actively removing those identified on their platforms, NEA added, advising other online sales operators to follow suit.

NEA’s guidelines on UVC sterilisers can be found on its website.

This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.


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