Tried and true: UVC can disinfect air to create healthier homes and workplaces

Tried and true: UVC can disinfect air to create healthier homes and workplaces

The study of ultraviolet (UV) light to kill bacteria and other pathogens dates back to 1845 when people first became aware that microorganisms respond to light. In 1877, Downes and Blunt witnessed that test tubes containing Pasteur’s solution (potassium phosphate and calcium phosphate, magnesium sulfate, and ammonium tartrate in distilled water) did not grow bacteria when exposed to sunlight. Later, in 1980, it was proven that sunlight could have a lethal effect on tuberculosis, which was an early indicator of the modern use of UV to combat TB infections. In the 1930s, more tests were conducted with favorable results for UV and its ability to kill airborne pathogens. These initial discoveries laid the foundation for further exploration and scientific data on UV disinfection.

UV light is still used today in conjunction with others forms of disinfectants to reduce the risk of illness from a variety of molds, viruses, and bacteria.

What exactly is ultraviolet light?

Ultraviolet light is a form of radiation. It possesses more energy than visible light or radio waves, but less than gamma rays and X-rays. A person can be exposed to UV light through natural sunlight or man-made sources such as tanning beds. Three types of UV light are classified according to how much energy they have:
  • UVA light provides the lowest amount of energy. When outdoors on a sunny day, you are mainly being exposed to UVA light.
  • UVB light lies in the middle range of the ultraviolet light field. A small percentage of sunlight includes UVB light.
  • UVC light possesses the most energy. UVC light from the sun is primarily absorbed in the Earth’s ozone, so people are not typically exposed to it regularly. There are, however, many man-made sources of UVC light. UVC light is the type of UV light that is most effective at killing germs because it damages molecules like nucleic acids and proteins making the virus or bacteria unable to survive. It can be used to disinfect surfaces, liquids, and air.

What do we know about UVC light and COVID-19?

UVC light has been found to kill large amounts of coronavirus in liquids. A recent study by the American Journal of Infection Control (AJIC) used UVC lights to inactivate the virus in liquid cultures. The study found that UVC light can kill the virus in nine minutes.

Additionally, the AJIC found that a 222-nm UVC light can kill COVID-19on laboratory surfaces. It was discovered that the UVC light reduced the live coronavirus by 99.7 percent in 30 seconds. The specific type of UVC light used in the AJIC study was far-UVC light, which is UVC light ranging between 207 and 222 nanometers in wavelength.

Another study published in the journal Scientific Reports used far-UVC light to kill two types of human coronaviruses in the air. Based on the findings of this study, scientists estimated that when used to battle the current COVID-19 virus, far-UVC light could likely kill airborne pathogens within 25 minutes of use.

UVC radiation is commonly used inside air ducts or portable air filters as well as controlled boxes or containers to disinfect the air and surfaces. This is the safest way to use UVC radiation as direct UVC exposure to skin and eyes can cause injuries.

The best way to use UVC light in a workplace or home

A great way to enjoy the benefits of UVC light without running the risk of direct skin or eye exposure is to invest in an air purifier outfitted with UV-light technology. Through these units, air is pulled into the appliance and is pushed through a high-grade HEPA filter. The air then is passed through an internal chamber with UVC light. The light is not released into the room and does not pose a risk, even when close to people. Once this process is finished, the clean air is released into the room.

Ultraviolet light used to eliminate mold, bacteria, and virus growth and spread have been an asset to healthcare for many years. While it should not be used to entirely replace the use of disinfecting and satanizing products such as soap and bleach, it is a useful tool when looking for a complete approach to keeping employees, customers, and family healthy and happy.