Health Canada to regulate certain consumer UV-emitting devices

Health Minister Patty Hajdu has introduced an interim order (IO) to regulate certain ultraviolet radiation-emitting devices and ozone-generating devices under the Pest Control Products Act (PCPA).

The IO targets UV radiation-emitting (whether using UVA, UVB or UVC wavelengths) or ozone-generating devices with a claim to control, eliminate or kill bacteria, viruses or other micro-organisms that are human pathogens, or claims to eliminate odours by killing the bacteria that causes them, on surfaces, objects, in water or in the air.

Sales of the devices, which are primarily marketed for home use to kill viruses and bacteria on things such as cell phones, keys and remote controls, have jumped significantly since the start of the pandemic.

However, Health Canada says it hasn’t yet seen evidence that the devices are safe or work. In fact, it notes: “These devices can pose serious health and safety concerns. For instance, depending on the UV wavelength, intensity, and duration of radiation exposure, exposure to ultraviolet light from these devices can result in serious injuries, including severe burns to the skin and eyes. Similarly, inhaling ozone can lead to decreased lung function, irritation of respiratory pathways, and inflammation of pulmonary tissues as well as irreversible lung damage leading to higher susceptibility of respiratory infections.”

Devices such as UV hand-held wands and sanitizers, as well as units that also generate ozone, must now meet a pre-market assessment and be registered prior to entering the market. Manufacturers with products currently on the market have a month to apply for registration under the PCPA.

Exempt from the IO are products that are certified as meeting Canadian electrical safety standards; units sold to improve air quality by deodorizing or eliminating odours; products covered under the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (CCPSA); and products which have a fully-shielded or enclosed UV lamp, a locking mechanism and an automatic shut off feature. Also not covered are UV-emitting units for swimming pools, spas, and waste water treatment systems.

For more information visit Health Canada.