Regulating ultraviolet radiation-emitting and ozone-generating devices under the Pest Control Products Act: Overview
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More ultraviolet (UV) radiation-emitting and ozone-generating devices such as lights and wands have become available for sale in Canada since the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of these devices are marketed to kill bacteria and viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
The devices are sold for use:
- on many surfaces and objects in the home, including:
- cell phones
- remote controls
- in water, such as humidifiers
- in the air in small- to large-sized rooms
Devices that are imported, manufactured, represented, distributed or used to reduce or kill viruses must be registered or authorized to ensure they meet Canadian health and environmental standards.
Health Canada has not received enough evidence to confirm that all of these devices are safe to use or that they are effective. Devices that have not been evaluated against the requirements of the Pest Control Products Act (PCPA) may, therefore, pose a serious health and safety risk.
- exposure to UV light from UV radiation-emitting devices may cause serious injuries, including severe burns to the skin and eyes
- inhaling ozone from ozone-generating devices may impair lung function, irritate respiratory pathways, inflame pulmonary tissues or cause irreversible lung damage
There is also the risk that Canadians may rely on unsafe and unproven products in the belief that they are protecting themselves from COVID-19 and other human pathogens. This false sense of security may result in people not following proper disinfection procedures. Thus, they may be accidentally putting themselves at risk.
If you have a UV radiation-emitting wand that claims to prevent COVID-19 or kill bacteria or viruses on surfaces or objects, stop using it immediately. This is especially crucial if you are using it on your skin. Our advisory warns about the risks of using UV lights and wands that make unproven claims to kill SARS-CoV-2.
Consult a health care professional if you have used these devices on the skin and have any concerns.
You should not use UV radiation-emitting or ozone-generating devices as a substitute for infection prevention measures, such as:
- frequent hand washing
- physical distancing
- cleaning and disinfecting
The Government of Canada has published a list of hard-surface disinfectants and hand sanitizers that meet Health Canada's requirements.
The Interim Order to regulate certain ultraviolet radiation-emitting devices and ozone-generating devices under the Pest Control Products Act came into effect on June 7, 2021. Although it expires on June 7, 2022, the protections it established have been continued by amendments to the Pest Control Products Regulations. The purpose of the regulatory requirements is to address the serious health and safety concerns of UV radiation-emitting or ozone-generating devices marketed in Canada.
The interim order (IO) and subsequent regulatory amendments clarify that certain UV radiation-emitting and ozone-generating devices are subject to the PCPA and its Regulations. The devices subject to the PCPA are imported, manufactured, represented, distributed or used to control, destroy, make inactive or reduce the level of bacteria, viruses and other micro-organisms that cause diseases in humans.
- UV radiation-emitting devices where the UV lamp, or other component that emits UV radiation, is fully shielded or enclosed in the device to prevent exposure to UV radiation may be sold or used without being registered if they meet certain requirements.
- Certain other UV radiation-emitting devices and ozone-generating devices must be registered by our Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) before they may be sold or used in Canada.
All such devices must meet labelling requirements. Product label information should clearly instruct users on how to use pest control products safely and in such a way as to avoid risk.
About the Pest Control Products Act
The PMRA is the regulatory authority in Canada responsible for regulating pesticides (pest control products) under the authority of the PCPA and its Regulations. Pest control products must be registered by the PMRA or otherwise authorized under the PCPA to ensure they meet Canadian health and environmental standards.
The PMRA's primary mandate is to:
- protect the health of Canadians and the environment
- ensure that the products in the marketplace can be used safely and effectively
The PMRA does this by regulating products used to control pests, which can include bacteria, viruses, fungi and mould.
All pest control products manufactured, imported, distributed or used in Canada:
- must be registered or otherwise authorized by the PMRA under the authority of the PCPA before they can be imported, sold or used in Canada
- are subject to rigorous science-based assessments by Health Canada scientists before being approved for use in Canada
- are, in the case of registered products, re-evaluated on a cyclical basis to make sure they continue to meet current health and environmental safety standards and continue to have value
- must bear the Canadian label and be used according to label directions
Unregistered or unauthorized devices, unless they are exempt, are prohibited and may be subject to compliance and enforcement action.
All UV radiation-emitting or ozone-generating devices registered by Health Canada are listed in the Pesticide Product Information Database. To confirm if a particular UV radiation-emitting device meets the conditions to be authorized without the need for registration, contact the manufacturer of the device. You should not use the device until you can confirm that it is compliant with the PCPA.
Related regulatory authorities
The Radiation Emitting Devices Act (REDA) governs all products that emit UV radiation, whether they are classified as pest control products, medical devices or consumer products.
REDA governs the radiation safety of devices that emit electromagnetic or acoustical radiation, including UV radiation. While the types of UV radiation-emitting devices that would be subject to the PCPA do not fall into any of the prescribed device classes under the Radiation Emitting Devices Regulations, the general requirements of REDA apply to all products that emit UV radiation.
For more information about REDA requirements, contact the Consumer and Clinical Radiation Protection Bureau by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To replace a lamp (for example, mercury vapour or light-emitting diodes (LEDs)) contained in a UV device, follow the instructions in the device's operating manual. Dispose of or recycle the lamp according to local applicable laws.
For more information, please contact:
Policy and Operations Directorate
Pest Management Regulatory Agency
2 Constellation Dr
Ottawa ON K1A 0K9
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