Are you new to Germicidal Lighting? Here is a brief explanation.
Can you use UV light to kill viruses like COVID-19?
Scientists have known about the disinfection capabilities of ultraviolet (UV) light for decades. Now, it’s considered an important tool in the fight against COVID-19.
You may be thinking… What is UV-C? How does it work? Is it safe? Read on to find the answers to those questions and more.
UV-C (also called germicidal UV) products claim pathogen kill rates higher than 99.9%. Because of their effectiveness, they have been used extensively in hospitals, medical labs, senior care centers, fire and police stations, airports, transit stations, schools, government buildings, office buildings, and hotels.
What is UV-C light?
UV-C (also called germicidal UV) is part of the ultraviolet spectrum that can inactivate pathogens like bacteria and viruses. UV-C utilizes specific wavelengths of the ultraviolet spectrum, typically between 200 to 280 nanometers.
UV-A and UV-B light can also kill some bacteria and germs, but are mostly ineffective against viruses like SARS-CoV-2. The Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) recently released a report on germicidal UV that says UV-C is the most effective part of the spectrum.
Although it is commonly called “UV light,” ultraviolet wavelengths fall just outside of the visible light spectrum. Scientists usually refer to UV as radiant energy, but “UV light” has become more commonly accepted. You will not see visible light produced from UV products.
ow does germicidal UV kill viruses?
Germicidal UV products can actually change the DNA and RNA of bacteria and viruses, destroying their ability to reproduce.
Most UV-C products can inactivate up to 99.9% of pathogens including viruses, bacteria, mold spores, and fungus. Viruses are not technically living organisms, so germicidal UV technically “inactivates” viruses.
Since COVID-19 can live on certain surfaces for up to three days and can travel through the air, germicidal UV is a great tool to disinfect air and surfaces.
Although the science behind germicidal UV has been around for a long time, it hasn’t been widely used in the U.S. until recently. The CDC and FEMA started to endorse the use in hospitals in the early 2000s. Since then, several medical reviews have noted the effectiveness and usage has jumped in the last 13 years.
Now, the technology is expanding to include new products that can work for a wide range of industries, not just hospitals.
Can UV light kill COVID-19?
Yes, according to a scientist from Columbia University. Preliminary test results from Dr. David Brenner found UV-C can inactivate COVID-19.
Dr. David Brenner performed tests on secure samples of SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19. He exposed the samples to UV-C and measured the response after the exposure.
Dr. Brenner announced his results in a news conference with New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). The MTA is starting a pilot program with PURO™ Lighting products, powered by Violet Defense™ Technology, to disinfect its buses, trains, and offices. Dr. Brenner said he used the same type of UV that will be used on the subway in his research.
Dr. Brenner says he will continue with more tests and have his research peer reviewed.
Because the structure of COVID-19 is different from past viruses, this testing is extremely important.
It’s also important to note germicidal UV does not replace other cleaning measures like dusting off surfaces. In fact, germicidal UV products cannot penetrate particles like dust, so dirty surfaces will cause effectiveness to drop.
Is germicidal UV light safe?
Similar to the UV-A and UV-B rays from the sun, exposure to UV-C can damage the skin and eyes. It’s important to follow strict safety guidelines when the products are operating.
As a basic rule, germicidal UV lamps should not run when anyone is nearby. The IES says there are no reports of long-term damage from an accidental overexposure, but there can be painful temporary consequences.
Only trained workers should handle germicidal UV units and make sure the product is turned off before performing maintenance. Also, you should buy the right light bulb for the right fixture
What is far-UVC light?
In the last decade, several scientists have focused their attention on a narrow range of UV-C wavelengths, called far-UVC. Far-UVC products typically use wavelengths between 207 to 222 nm.
Far-UVC is believed to be just as effective at killing germs as higher ranges of UV-C light, but less harmful to our skin and eyes.
One study in particular focuses on the use of far-UVC light. The study concluded that 222 nm UV can inactivate pathogens but not penetrate the skin. The IES warns that safety may depend on the product’s glass envelope, or outer layer of the lamp.
Other studies suggest that wavelengths as low as 185 nm can still kill germs.
Scientists are still performing tests on far-UVC, and manufacturers are starting to use the technology in some products.
Advantages of germicidal UV
Germicidal UV lamps are extremely effective and have several major advantages.
- Pathogen kill rate – Tests show that germicidal UV products kill up to 99.9% of bacteria and viruses when used correctly. On top of that, bacteria and pathogens cannot become resistant to UV like they can certain antibiotics and antibacterial products.
- Limited chemical exposure – UV-C works in place of potentially harmful chemicals. It’s safe to enter a room after germicidal UV products disinfect the area, but it might be hard to breathe in a room that has just been sprayed down with chemicals.
- Lighting configurations – There are multiple lighting configurations for germicidal UV light, including different types of fixture installation, mobile units, and industrial HVAC attachments. Mobile units are a great option for hospitals, airports, fire and police stations, and the hospitality industry because they’re easy to move from room to room. Plus, mobile units are a budget-friendly option compared to installing fixtures in every room.