Does UV Water Purification Cause Cancer?

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UV purification is a beneficial alternative to chemical water disinfection, but you might be concerned that UV has its own potential side-effects – including possibly increasing your risk of cancer.

Here, we’ve answered the question, “Does UV water purification cause cancer?”

📌 Key Takeaways:

  • According to what we know so far, UV water purification doesn’t cause cancer.
  • No scientific research or studies have linked the use of ultraviolet light in water with an increase in cancer risk.
  • UV water purification is a cost-effective, chemical-free method of killing bacteria and other microorganisms, but it requires electricity to run and doesn’t remove dissolved impurities from your water supply.

🤔 Does UV Water Purification Cause Cancer?

No, there’s no evidence to suggest that UV radiation used to disinfect water has any association with cancer.

UV light exposure does have a skin cancer risk (see the below section), but there’s no research or evidence that suggests purifying water with UV light can cause cancer.

In a UV water treatment system, the UV lamp is enclosed in casing that prevents us from being able to see, touch, or be exposed to the ultraviolet light when it’s switched on.

Plus, UV systems typically emit a relatively low UV range (the typical maximum is ለ=254 nm), making them safe for their purpose.

The EPA has approved the use of UV water filtration for disinfection, and thousands of households in the US use this method of water treatment to stay safe from harmful microorganisms.

So, in short, you’re not at risk of cancer from using a UV system. There’s no evidence to suggest that UV water filtration increases your cancer risk.

Uv water purification system installed in basement

👨‍⚕️ How Is UV Associated With Cancer – And Why UV Water Purifiers Don’t Apply

You’re probably concerned about using UV filters to purify your water because you’ve heard that UV exposure is linked to cancer.

This is true – numerous studies have found that UV exposure can cause skin cancer.

However, the American Cancer Society reports that this skin cancer risk only applies to UV exposure to the skin, such as from the sun’s rays or from the use of sunbeds and UV nail lamps.

Using a UV light to purify your water is different because the ultraviolet rays don’t actually come into contact with your skin.

Instead, they’re used momentarily to kill certain contaminants during the UV purification process at your main water pipe.

The UV doesn’t remain in your water and doesn’t change the properties of your water at all (aside from preventing microorganisms from making you sick). That means you won’t put yourself at risk of skin cancer from showering or bathing in, or ingesting, water that has been treated with a UV water filter.

Feeling sick after drinking water purified with uv purification

⚖️ Pros and Cons of Using A UV Water Filter

Now we know that a UV water purifier doesn’t increase cancer risk, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of this method of water treatment.


Some of the pros of a UV water purification system are:

  • Highly effective. UV water purification is a highly effective method of killing microorganisms. UV light disrupts the DNA of bacteria and other pathogens, preventing them from replicating or making you sick.
  • Doesn’t change water quality. UV light doesn’t change the taste, smell, or quality of your water.
  • Chemical-free. UV water filtration is a chemical-free alternative to chlorine/chloramine or ozone disinfection, so you don’t have to worry about disinfection byproducts.
  • Energy-efficient and cost-effective. UV water purification uses a single UV bulb that uses about the same electricity as a standard light bulb. The bulb only needs replacing about once a year, and the UV sleeve has a 2-3-year average lifespan.
  • Instant results. A UV water purifier works instantly, treating water as it travels through your pipes, and water doesn’t need to be stored in a tank for the UV to take effect.
Uv water filtration works to disrupt the dna of bacteria and other pathogens in water


Some of the setbacks of a UV filter are:

  • Only works with clear water. If your water is turbid or has a lot of dissolved substances, the effectiveness of the UV water purification isn’t guaranteed.
  • Doesn’t remove anything from water. A UV purifier doesn’t offer physical water filtration. Sediments, chemicals, and heavy metals are retained in the water – so you’ll need to use an additional filtration method if these contaminants are a problem in your water.
  • Electricity required. You need electricity to keep the UV bulb switched on. Without a power source, the UV purifier won’t work, and you won’t receive disinfected drinking water.
  • Might produce warm water. The heat emitted from the UV light bulb will cause the water to heat up slightly. You’ll notice this especially when switching on your faucet after the water has sat in the pipes for a while.

📑 Final Word

So, UV purifiers are safe to use, and are an effective way to kill harmless microorganisms without adding anything dangerous into drinking water.

  • Jennifer Byrd
    Water Treatment Specialist

    For 20+ years, Jennifer has championed clean water. From navigating operations to leading sales, she's tackled diverse industry challenges. Now, at Redbird Water, she crafts personalized solutions for homes, businesses, and factories. A past Chamber President and industry advocate, Jennifer leverages her expertise in cutting-edge filtration and custom design to transform water concerns into crystal-clear solutions.

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