Answer to Question #12866 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"

Category: Ultraviolet Radiation

The following question was answered by an expert in the appropriate field:


Is the ultraviolet (UV) radiation from a bug zapper inside the house dangerous? I am currently pregnant (first trimester) with two young kids in the house. How close do you need to be to be exposed? Do the eradication waves omit throughout the house?


The brief answer to your questions is that these devices pose no harm to you, your unborn baby, and your young children. Moreover, the UV waves do not penetrate throughout your home. From a non-radiation perspective, there could be some hazard if the device is near areas of food production as the dead insects may fall into your foods.

Bug zappers can attract insects that can see UV light. In bug zappers, the production of the UV light requires special lightbulbs that are manufactured to produce a form of UV light called UV-A. This is the light blue light you see, and it is considerably less than the amount of UV-A you would be exposed to outside. Although UV-A light is associated with tanning beds which can be hazardous, the bulbs in zappers are not intense enough to induce skin tanning. Thus, they are not hazardous to skin. Like most types of energy, other hazards from UV-A decrease rapidly as distance from the bulbs increase. For residential bulbs, any distance more than a few 10s of centimeters would be non-hazardous and would not be transmitted throughout the house.

In summary, the UV light produced by bug zappers inside homes is not hazardous to humans as the amount of UV light produced is insufficient to cause harm, especially if you are more than 25 centimeters from the bulbs.

Paul Charp, PhD

Answer posted on 30 April 2019. The information posted on this web page is intended as general reference information only. Specific facts and circumstances may affect the applicability of concepts, materials, and information described herein. The information provided is not a substitute for professional advice and should not be relied upon in the absence of such professional advice. To the best of our knowledge, answers are correct at the time they are posted. Be advised that over time, requirements could change, new data could be made available, and Internet links could change, affecting the correctness of the answers. Answers are the professional opinions of the expert responding to each question; they do not necessarily represent the position of the Health Physics Society.