Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation Safety Concerns: A Lesson from the Tuberculosis Ultraviolet Shelter Study Murphy's Law Affirmed


  • This paper is part of the Symposium-in-Print on “Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation.”

Corresponding author email: Drpwb@aol.com (Philip W. Brickner)


Concerns about the safety of Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation (UVGI) applications on human beings have been an issue at least since the introduction of this technology for practical use in the 1930s. The resurgence of tuberculosis (TB) in the United States in the mid-1980s led to a revival of interest in UV technology, a focus that had almost disappeared because alternate means of controlling TB had inaccurately been deemed successful. These failures in TB control led to a revival of UVGI use. And with that revival grew necessary and appropriate concerns about attempts to eliminate human overexposure. For all those working in the field of UVGI, safety issues must be a concern because when UVGI fixtures are placed improperly, or precautions ignored, room occupants are placed at risk of photokeratoconjunctivitis and photodermatitis. If safety is so prominent a concern, why do incidents of UV side effects continue to occur? See Murphy's Law.