Life on earth has constantly coped with the impact of solar radiation, especially solar ultraviolet radiation (solar UV). Various biological mechanisms protect us from solar UV. New devices emitting shorter wavelengths UV-C, i.e. <254 nm emitted by conventional UV germicidal lamps, have emerged. These shorter wavelength UV-C emitting devices are useful for various purposes, including microorganism inactivation. However, as solar UV-C does not reach the earth surface, biological impacts of UV-C has been studied using 254 nm germicidal lamps, and those using shorter wavelength UV-C is rarely known. To balance the utility and risk of UV-C, the biological effect of these new UV-C emitting devices must be investigated. In addition, our knowledge of biological impacts of the wavelength-dependent entire UV (100-400 nm) must be enhanced. In this review, we briefly summarize the biological impacts of shorter wavelength UV-C. Mechanisms of UV-C-induced cellular damage and factors affecting the microorganism inactivation efficiency of UV-C have been discussed. In addition, we theoretically estimate the probable photocarcinogenic action spectrum of shorter wavelength UV-C. We propose that increasing the knowledge on UV-C will facilitate the adoption of shorter wavelength UV-C emitting new devices in an optimal and appropriate manner.
© 2022 The Authors. Photochemistry and Photobiology published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of American Society for Photobiology.