Study: New Filtered Far UV-C Handheld Device Does Not Generate Harmful Light

Freestyle Partners in Detroit has announced that a surface reflectivity study demonstrated that a filtered Far UV-C portable, handheld device when used as intended, does not generate harmful amounts of reflected UV-C light to the user or people near the user.
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UV-C unit in operation
A Freestyle Partners study shows that a that a filtered Far UV-C portable, handheld device when used as intended, does not generate harmful amounts of reflected UV-C light to the user or people near the user. //Photo courtesy of Freestyle Partners

Freestyle Partners in Detroit has announced that a surface reflectivity study demonstrated that a filtered Far UV-C portable, handheld device when used as intended, does not generate harmful amounts of reflected UV-C light to the user or people near the user.

It’s also safe for people to operate without protective gear for the skin or eyes.

Ben Ma and Karl Linden of the University of Colorado Boulder spearheaded the work that tested surface reflectivity and safety of a filtered Far UV-C portable handheld device on a variety of common materials and compared it to the reflectivity of non-filtered Far UV-C and conventional UV-C portable handheld devices.

The study concluded that when using the handheld filtered Far UV-C device as intended it is safe for human use without protective gear on the skin or eyes and allows for approximately 10 times longer exposure than an unfiltered Far UV-C handheld device and about 25 times longer exposure than a conventional UV-C (254nm) handheld device.

The peer-reviewed published study titled, “Reflection of UVC wavelengths from common materials during surface UV disinfection: Assessment of human UV exposure and ozone generation,” is available through Science of the Total Environment.

“The study provided needed data on UV reflection of commonly used materials and reports the relative safety of portable, handheld filtered Far UV-C devices for surface disinfection in occupied spaces, considering both the UV exposure to reflected irradiation and ozone generation,” says Karl Linden, professor and department chair of Department of Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering at the University of Colorado – Boulder.

The results illustrate that the portable, handheld filtered Far UV-C device is safe to be used as instructed in occupied spaces, with limited ozone generation and no health risk from reflected UV irradiation, even when applied on the most highly reflective surfaces.

Filtered Far UV-C is a breakthrough technology developed by a team of researchers led by David Brenner, PhD, director of the Center for Radiological Research at Columbia University. It has been extensively tested and endorsed by leading institutions across the world. Studies published in peer-reviewed, scientific journals have shown the technology has the same efficacy against pathogens as conventional UV-C.

Studies have also demonstrated that filtered Far UV-C is scientifically proven to be safe to use in occupied space when used within the current American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) dose limits as well as recently updated IES/ANSI standards, because it does not penetrate into living skin or the eye.

The COVID-19 pandemic has promoted interest in using various UV-C devices for surface disinfection to reduce pathogen transmission, especially in occupied public spaces. While UV-C devices have been shown to be highly effective against various pathogens, safety of UV-C devices needs to be evaluated before applying them around human occupants.

Irradiation from conventional UV-C devices (emitting at 254 nm) are known to be hazardous upon exposure to human skin and eyes, causing erythema and photokeratitis. While direct exposure when using conventional UV-C devices may be avoided, the reflected UV irradiation that comes from surfaces may still pose a health risk if either unfiltered Far UV-C or conventional UV-C is used.

This study shows that the reflectivity from the tested filtered Far UV-C device stayed well within approved scientifically approved limits and standards without the need for protective gear, while the need for additional safety protection is needed to operate unfiltered Far UV-C devices as well as conventional UV-C devices.

“The unfiltered Far UV-C lamp may still be safe for disinfecting surfaces with low reflection values, but precautions need to be considered when applied to highly reflective surfaces for a longer period, such as wearing UV blocking goggles and covering exposed skin. Even more caution is needed for any use of the conventional (254 nm) lamp due to its much greater hazardous effects,” says Ben Ma, of the Linden Research Group at the University of Colorado.

Freestyle Partners provided funding support and one of their portable, handheld filtered Far UV-C devices for this study.

“We are pleased to have further confirmation on the reflectivity safety of filtered Far UV-C in a portable, handheld format as this allows for the breakthrough technology to be utilized safely and efficaciously by both the user and those around the user,” says Ben Feeney, co-founder of Freestyle Partners.