Do LED Lights Emit UV Radiation?

Do LED Lights Emit UV Radiation?

By Leah • Oct 12th 2018

While previous eras may have been excused from their ignorance of the damage of ultraviolet (UV) radiation, the same excuses can't be made for present generations. Sunscreen, shades and even beauty products are requisites in any sunny climate. However, many may still be unaware of the problems related to artificial light and UV radiation.

The advancements in LED technology have made bulbs cheaper, more cost effective and much more energy efficient than their metal halide and high-pressure sodium forebears. But do LED lights give off UV radiation? Let OEO explain further.

Does UV Radiation from Light Bulbs Endanger Health?

While protecting from the UV radiation of the sun can help reduce skin diseases such as melanoma and other cancers, is there the same worry for artificial light bulbs? We wouldn't have the amount of exposure we have to indoor lighting as we did if the threat was as dangerous as sun exposure. The threat of artificial lighting is more subtle.

Of course, exposure to a specific type of UV light will greatly increase the likelihood of certain diseases such as cancer. UV booths in tanning salons are a good example. Bulbs in the home will not have the same strength or levels of UV radiation.

In an industrial setting, however, the amount of light required is much greater. It will depend on the usage, but from food processing plants to paper mills, these indoor industrial spaces need to be carefully controlled. This means providing the vast majority of light from artificial sources. It also means have the right intensity of light to perform the necessary tasks for a specific industry.

Health Problems Associated with UV Lighting

There are various health problems associated with UV radiation include:

  • Skin damage
  • Photokeratitis and other forms of eye damage
  • Energy depletion
  • Exacerbating existing conditions such as lupus erythematosus

The amount of UV radiation from these artificial light sources has been called into question. While many parents may hear scare stories about the amount of time their kids spend on tablets and phone screens, there is little evidence to suggest UV radiation from these sources will cause much damage.

High intensity discharge bulbs such as metal halide bulbs and high pressure sodium bulbs are a different story. Most HIDs emit a significant amount of UV radiation and require specific UV-blocking filters to meet safety standards in most working conditions. When an industrial sized space is lit by so many powerful HIDs, the safety concern is even greater.

In grow spaces where high intensity discharge lamps are used, safety glasses are a legal requirement to protect from UV radiation. Even with blocking filter technology, faulty bulbs can leak and cause hidden damage.

Do LED Light Bulbs Emit UV Radiation?

For the majority of LED light bulbs, in industrial applications and otherwise, they do not give off UV radiation. In earlier incarnations of LED lighting the reason they did not emit UV radiation was their inability to give off white light. However, since the advent of white light LEDs, this has changed. White light LED bulbs are created by coating brilliant blue LEDs in phosphor. This allows the blue to be absorbed and only allow the white to come through.

Although most types of LED lighting do not emit any UV light, brilliant blues do emit a small amount. However, the phosphor reduces this to such a small fraction of the already small amount, the amount emitted is essentially negligible. There is no need for a filter and this is why they are used in many environments where photosensitivity is a concern.

The lack of UV light is one of the many reasons LED lighting surpasses high intensity discharge bulbs. You can read more about these differences in our article on why HIDs can't compete with LEDs.