Skip to main content
Public Health
Expert opinion

Biological effects of UV-C radiation relevant to health with particular reference to UV-C lamps

Final Opinion


SCHEER WG on UV-C lamps
SCHEER members: Theodoros Samaras (Chair), Ana Proykova (Co-rapporteur) Renate Krätke, Rodica Mariana Ion
SCCS member: Pieter Jan Coenraads
External experts: Lesley Rushton (Rapporteur), Norbert Leitgeb
On request from: European Commission
Adopted on: 2 February 2017

Following a request from the European Commission, the Scientific Committee on Health, Environmental and Emerging Risks (SCHEER) reviewed recent evidence to assess health risks associated with UV-C radiation from lamps.
The part of the ultraviolet radiation emitted in the wavelength range 280 nm–100 nm is called UV-C; this radiation is used in a growing number of applications, which include disinfection of water and air, food-industry processing, and air-conditioning. Although most appliances are sealed systems there is now increasing use of devices where consumers may be directly exposed to UV-C radiation.
Based on the review and assessment of relevant scientific data, the SCHEER concluded that:

• Adverse effects to the eye and skin in humans are reported mainly from accidental acute exposure to high levels of UV radiation from UV-C lamps.

• Mechanistic studies suggest that there are wavelength-dependent exposure thresholds for UV-C regarding acute adverse effects to human eyes and skin, except for erythema. However, quantitative estimation of these thresholds could not be derived from currently available data.

• Due to the mode of action and induced DNA damage similarly to UVB, UV-C can be considered carcinogenic to humans. However, the currently available data do not allow quantitative cancer risk assessment of exposure from UV-C lamps.

• UV-C lamps emitting radiation at wavelengths shorter than 240 nm need additional risk assessment of the associated production of ozone in the environment. More data are needed on the exposure of general population and workers from UV-C lamps and generated ozone.

• Research is needed on long-term stochastic effects such as cancer.


UV radiation, UV-C lamps, ozone, risk assessment, cancer, skin, eye

Opinion to be cited as:

SCHEER (Scientific Committee on Health, Environmental and Emerging Risks), Opinion on Biological effects of UV-C radiation relevant to health with particular reference to UV-C lamps, 2 February 2017.


(1.53 MB - PDF)