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 LED UV radiation.

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? In this guide, our experts will explain the relationship between LED light bulbs and UV radiation and cover whether or not they pose a health hazard.

Light Bulbs with UV Rays: Understanding the Basics

When it comes to lighting, the question of whether LED lights emit UV radiation is often a topic of concern. UV radiation, or ultraviolet light, is a type of electromagnetic radiation that is not visible to the human eye and is known for its potential to cause skin cancer and other health issues. However, the nature of UV radiation in different types of light bulbs, such as LED and fluorescent lights, varies significantly.

UV in LED Lights

LED lights, or light-emitting diodes, are widely known for their energy efficiency and long lifespan. Unlike traditional incandescent bulbs and some compact fluorescent lamps (CFL bulbs), LED lights are designed primarily to emit visible light without the byproduct of UV radiation. This makes them a safer choice for prolonged exposure in household and office settings. The technology behind LEDs allows them to produce light through electroluminescence, which typically doesn't include UV radiation unless specifically engineered to do so, as in the case of light bulbs with UV rays used in certain specialized applications like black lights or grow lights.

UV in Fluorescent Lights

So, do fluorescent lights emit UV? Well, it turns out they vary in their emissions compared to standard indoor LED bulbs. Fluorescent lights, on the other hand, do emit a small amount of UV radiation. This is because these bulbs use a mercury vapor process to create light, which inherently produces UV light that is then converted into visible light by the phosphor coating inside the bulb. While the amount of UV emitted by fluorescent lamps is usually low and considered safe under normal use, there are still concerns about UV exposure, particularly with older or damaged bulbs.

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 having the right intensity of light to perform the necessary tasks for a specific industry. If your LED lights are too bright, be sure to swap them out for more appropriate lighting.

Health Problems Associated with UV Lighting

There are various health problems associated with UV radiation, including:

  • 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 that 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 large 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 allows 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 amount that its 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.

How to Know If Your Industrial Lighting is Safe

Ensuring the safety of your industrial lighting involves a few key steps. First, regularly inspect your light bulbs for any signs of wear, damage, or aging. Fluorescent lamps and other traditional light sources can degrade over time, potentially increasing UV radiation emissions. Look for visible cracks, darkened ends, or flickering lights, which indicate that it's time for a replacement.

Testing for UV emissions is another critical measure. UV light meters can help detect the presence of UV radiation in your workspace, providing a clear indication of whether your current lighting poses a risk. If your readings are high, it may be necessary to take immediate action to protect your employees from prolonged UV exposure.

Evaluating the efficiency and performance of your lighting system is also important. Older fluorescent bulbs and metal halide lamps not only emit UV radiation but are also less energy-efficient compared to modern LED lights. If you notice high energy bills or frequent maintenance issues, it’s a sign that an upgrade might be needed.

By staying vigilant about the condition of your lighting and conducting regular safety checks, you can ensure a safer and more efficient working environment.

Upgrade to Superior LED Lighting with OEO Energy Solutions

Ensuring the safety and efficiency of your industrial lighting is paramount. Regular inspections and testing for UV emissions are essential steps in maintaining a safe working environment. However, the best way to safeguard your facility and enhance energy efficiency is by upgrading to LED lighting.

OEO Energy Solutions offers top-of-the-line LED lighting solutions tailored for commercial and industrial use. By choosing OEO's LED lights, you not only eliminate the risk of UV radiation but also benefit from significant energy savings and reduced maintenance costs. Our LED bulbs, LED strip lights, and high bay LED fixtures are designed to provide superior performance and longevity.

Don't wait until your current lighting becomes a liability. Upgrade to OEO's LED lighting solutions today and experience the benefits of safer, more efficient lighting.