Three employees, a resident and a contractor experienced concerns with their vision after being in close proximity to a bug zapper at the Durham VA.
All five people affected were engaged in a meeting near the the device. Yves-Marie Daley, a spokesperson from the VA, has said all five are “healing.”
After the incident occurred, it was found that an incorrect bulb that gave off too strong of a light had been installed, leading to the negative side effects.
According to Daley, other bug zappers across the organization were also checked to ensure the correct bulbs were used in all other units. The VA has opened an internal investigation on the matter.
In order for bug zappers to work, ultraviolet (UV) light is used to attract the bugs. Insects are then electrocuted by a wire mesh as they try to reach the UV light.
The Health Physics Society has said the UV light bulbs typically found in bug zappers do not have enough intensity to affect or damage human skin or eyes.
However, the UV lights that are used as disinfectants against such diseases as the novel coronavirus are more powerful than their bug zapper counterparts. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), disinfecting UV lamps have the ability to cause eye irritation and injuries as well as skin reactions.
Looking directly at a disinfecting UV lamp, even for a short period of time, should be avoided, the FDA has warned.
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