DOE | UV | Regulation | Oct 02, 2023

Discrepancies in UV Product Claims: CALiPER Report Reveals Need for Industry Standards and Accountability in Germicidal UV Technologies

In a groundbreaking CALiPER report released this month, the radiometric performance of germicidal ultraviolet (GUV) products has come under intense scrutiny, revealing startling discrepancies between manufacturers' claims and actual product performance.

As the world continues to grapple with health challenges, the reliance on GUV products as a line of defense has surged, making the accuracy and reliability of these devices paramount. The study, conducted by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, delved deep into the performance metrics of 13 GUV products, uncovering significant variations in UV-C radiant efficiency and highlighting the urgent need for standardized testing and industry accountability. With some LED products found to emit UV-A instead of their claimed UV-C, the report underscores the critical importance of accurate product labeling and the potential risks posed by misleading claims. As we navigate an era where germicidal solutions are more crucial than ever, this report serves as a clarion call for manufacturers, regulators, and consumers to prioritize transparency, education, and rigorous testing standards in the GUV industry.

The results of the report "Radiometric Testing of Germicidal UV Products, Round 1: UV-C Towers and Whole-Room Luminaires" are as follows:

  1. Claims vs. Test Results:

    • Performance claims for the products were often untestable, contradictory, ambiguous, or used incorrect units and/or terminology.
    • When claims were testable, they often did not match the test results. For instance, three LED products that claimed to emit UV-C actually emitted only UV-A.
    • Product claim issues were more prevalent among consumer-oriented tower products, but all product types had problems with accurate performance claims.

  2. UV-C Radiant Efficiency:

    • The UV-C radiant efficiency (calculated as UV-C output power divided by electrical input power) of the products varied widely.
    • Even among similar products using the same source technologies, there was a significant variation. For instance, the UV-C radiant efficiency of LPM (low-pressure mercury) products varied by more than a factor of three for the same product type. This indicates a significant potential for energy savings for products that are better designed for efficiency.
    • LED products had orders-of-magnitude lower UV-C radiant efficiency compared to LPM products.

  3. Key Issues Identified:

    • Incomplete or inaccurate performance claims: Performance claims were often absent, untestable, contradictory, or ambiguous. For example, all five of the consumer-oriented LED tower products claimed to emit UV-C, but three of them emitted none, and the other two mostly emitted UV-A.

  4. Need for Further Education and Standards:

    • The results highlight an urgent need for further education, industry standards, and accountability in the GUV (germicidal ultraviolet) product industry.
    • The abundance of incomplete, ambiguous, contradictory, and untestable claims suggests that some product developers and sellers might not fully understand GUV technology or how to measure and accurately report product performance.
    • The industry could prioritize the development of a standard set of recommended testing for each product type, along with a standard set of associated performance data that should be reported for each product.

  5. Variation in Radiometric Performance:

    • There is a wide variation in radiometric performance among different GUV product types and technologies. This round of testing showed that LED products have significantly lower UV-C radiant efficiency than LPM products.
    • The application performance and efficiency of GUV must also consider spectrum and intensity distribution to determine germicidal efficacy.

These results emphasize the need for accurate performance claims, industry standards, and education in the GUV product industry. The report also underscores the variation in performance among different GUV product types and technologies.

Download the Full Report!

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