Health Minister Patty Hajdu says most companies selling UV wands and lights promising to kill viruses will now have to apply to have their products approved by Health Canada and stop claiming they can destroy COVID-19.
Hajdu' signed an interim order Monday that will regulate the devices for the first time.
"To date, Health Canada has not yet received sufficient evidence to demonstrate that they can be used safely or that they work as claimed," said a explanatory note released Tuesday when the order was publicized.
UV light is well-known to kill anything that has DNA or RNA, including human cells, viruses, fungi and bacteria. It has been used in hospitals and commercial ventilation systems for years but products for consumer use are more recent.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the marketplace exploded with consumer devices claiming to kill viruses with UV light or ozone, prompting safety warnings from Health Canada and other international health bodies, including the World Health Organization.
Health Canada said one retail site alone — which it didn't name — had more than 2,000 cellphone sanitizers and another 500 devices using UV light to clean toys.
The devices have been linked to severe eye injuries, including burns to the cornea in the United States. Health Canada hasn't said if any injury reports have been made in Canada. The devices can also cause serious burns to skin and skin cancer without proper safety in place.
Manufacturers are being given 30 days to apply to have their products authorized under the Pest Control Products Act or take them off the market. They will have to meet certain standards to be approved, and submit data that shows the device is safe and effective.