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).
To prevent accidental exposure and health risks, the agency advised the public not to buy any UVC steriliser product that has no safety features.
It added that UVC-based disinfection should be applied only in an industrial or commercial setting with appropriate safety features and safe use practices.
Common uses for such devices include the sterilisation of mobile phones, jewellery and home surfaces.
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 buying such sterilisers for disinfection purposes should choose only those with safety engineering features that prevent users from being exposed to UVC radiation.
Examples include motion sensors for portable, tube and desk lamps, as well as bulbs, that automatically switch off the UVC sources when a person approaches them, and gravity sensors in handheld UVC sterilisers and portable UVC wands that automatically switch them off when the devices face upwards, protecting the user's eyes.
For UVC disinfection boxes, there should be safety features that turn off the UVC light when the box is open.
NEA advised users to avoid direct skin exposure to UVC radiation and avoid looking directly into a UVC light source.
It also urged those who have bought 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.