Ultraviolet C lamps for disinfection of surfaces potentially contaminated with SARS-CoV-2 in critical hospital settings: examples of their use and some practical advice

BMC Infect Dis. 2021 Jun 22;21(1):594. doi: 10.1186/s12879-021-06310-5.


Background: UltraViolet-C (UV-C) lamps may be used to supplement current hospital cleaning and disinfection of surfaces contaminated by SARS-CoV-2. Our aim is to provide some practical indications for the correct use of UV-C lamps.

Methods: We studied three UV-C lamps, measuring their spatial irradiance and emission over time. We quantify the error that is committed by calculating the irradiation time based exclusively on the technical data of the lamps or by making direct irradiance measurements. Finally, we tested specific dosimeters for UV-C.

Results: Our results show that the spatial emission of UV-C lamps is strongly dependent on the power of the lamps and on the design of their reflectors. Only by optimizing the positioning and calculating the exposure time correctly, is it possible to dispense the dose necessary to obtain SARS-CoV-2 inactivation. In the absence of suitable equipment for measuring irradiance, the calculated irradiation time can be underestimated. We therefore consider it precautionary to increase the calculated times by at least 20%.

Conclusion: To use UV-C lamps effectively, it is necessary to follow a few simple precepts when choosing, positioning and verifying the lamps. In the absence of instruments dedicated to direct verification of irradiance, photochromic UV-C dosimeters may represent a useful tool for easily verifying that a proper UV-C dose has been delivered.

Keywords: Environmental contamination; SARS-CoV-2; UV-C disinfection; UV-C dosimeters; UV-C lamps.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 / prevention & control*
  • Disinfection / methods*
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • SARS-CoV-2 / drug effects*
  • Ultraviolet Rays*
  • Virus Inactivation / radiation effects