Black light technology is a cinch for LED. LED’s can be designed to produce light of any wavelength. Most black light LED sources are in the 385-400nm range, though a little lower is considered the sweet spot for creating the optimal black light effect. A fixture or bulb peaking at around 365nm will cover the entire black light spectrum.
Some in the lighting business have stated that LEDs do not produce UV radiation. However studies have shown that standard LEDs do create a small amount of UV. That said, the amount of UV they actually emit is even less. This is due to the phosphors within an LED lamp that convert the Ultraviolet light to white light.
We all know that exposure to UV radiation leads to sunburn, and in extreme scenarios can lead to eye problems, skin cancer, weakening of the immune system, and more. Fortunately, most artificial light sources do not emit enough UV for this to be a real concern. CFL lamps, already a worry for their mercury content, are being studied for the UV they put out. While not emitting a significant amount of UV, some people who are very sensitive to UV may be affected by the amount of UV produced by CFLs. Health Canada recommends that people keep a distance of 30 cm or more from any light source.
An additional concern with UV output is color degradation. CFL and HID lamps have been known to cause damage to shades, carpets, painted surfaces, and more due to UV emissions. This has been another motivating factor for places like museums to retrofit to LED.
And what about pesky insects and their attraction to certain lights? You may have noticed this less with LED. UV radiation from light sources has been known to attract insects of all kinds, though LED’s emissions are so minimal that they do not hold the same level of command over bugs. Food-service and outdoor applications are just a few instances that can benefit from this.
With such limited UV output from LED, it is no wonder you cannot find LED tanning lights stateside. It is not so much that it cannot be done, but rather the challenge is making them efficient, long life, and low cost. Will LED tanning beds be commercialized one day? A quick search on Alibaba will reveal various LED tanning beds, though the cost (and likely the quality) of these leave a bit to be desired. But never say never with LED – a few years back it would have been hard to imagine some of the things LED can do now.