Photobiological Safety Evaluation of UV Nail Lamps


  • John C. Dowdy,

    Corresponding author
    • Rapid Precision Testing Laboratories, Cordova, TN
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  • Robert M. Sayre

    1. Rapid Precision Testing Laboratories, Cordova, TN
    2. Division of Dermatology, Department of Medicine, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, TN
    3. Department of Physics, The University of Memphis, Memphis, TN
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Corresponding author email: (John C. Dowdy)


We evaluated six UV nail lamps representative of major US manufacturers to evaluate radiant hazards as defined in ANSI/IESNA RP-27 Recommended Practice for Photobiological Safety. Lamps were evaluated at three positions, 1 cm above the inner surface approximating exposure to the hand and the 20 cm RP-27 non-general light source distance, oriented normal and 45° to the opening. Hazard to skin at intended use distance classified these devices into Risk Group 1 or 2 (Low to Moderate) with S(λ) weighted Actinic UV ranging 1.2–1.7 μW cm² and 29.8–276.25 min permissible daily exposure. At 20 cm on center and 45° UV risk to skin and eyes were all within Exempt classification. Actinic UV ranged 0.001–0.078 μW cm² and unweighted near UV (320–400 nm) ranged 0.001–0.483 mW cm². Likewise the retinal photochemical blue light hazard and retinal thermal and cornea/lens IR were also Exempt. One device had aphakic eye hazard slightly rising into Risk Group 1 (Low). There were no other photobiological risks to normal individuals. Total exposure following programmed times and steps accumulate to only a small fraction of RP-27 permissible daily occupational exposure. These risks are further mitigated in realistic nonoccupational use scenarios as it is unlikely to be a daily occurrence.