Do All UV Light Act as a Disinfectant?

Covid-19 has continued to keep our ability to disinfect at the forefront of American minds. For some, this includes how lighting may help prevent the spread of diseases and illnesses. Eventually, Covid-19 will become a scare of the past. However, our health should never be compromised just because one crisis has passed. Investing in disinfectant lighting can help continue to prevent the spread of illnesses and diseases of all kinds. Below, the experts with Action Services Group help explain the difference in ultraviolet (UV) lighting to ensure you invest in the product that is best for you.

Understanding the Differences in UV Lighting

Although not always visible to the eye, light is measured and classified based on wavelengths. These wavelengths are measured in nanometers (nm), with visible light having wavelengths between 400nm and 700nm. (By comparison, infrared light includes those wavelengths over 700nm.) UV light, which lies just outside of the visible light spectrum, is divided into several different categories based on wavelengths. These categories include far-UVC, UV-C, UV-B, UV-A, and what is referred to as broad-spectrum UV.


UV-C light includes wavelengths that span between 200nm to 280nm. Also known as germicidal UV, UV-C is considered the most effective light for destroying or deactivating microorganisms and pathogens. This, in turn, helps to sterilize and disinfect air, surfaces and water to prevent the spread of illnesses, bacteria, and diseases. UV-C does come with certain safety concerns. Primarily, UV-C is not safe for use around eyes or skin. This means UV-C light should only be used in rooms or areas that are unoccupied. This often means combining UV-C light with a controlled light system that activates on a timed-cycle or when no occupancy is detected.


Far-UVC is a sub-level of UV-C lighting. At wavelengths that range between 207nm and 222nm, far-UVC provides all the benefits of UV-C lighting. However, far-UVC is safe for skin and eyes when in use. This is because the narrow bandwidth of wavelengths cannot penetrate beyond the outer layer of skin. This means far-UVC can be left on even when a room is occupied for continuous germicidal use. However, experts with the Illuminating Engineering Society have produced reports that indicate that not all manufacturers’ of far-UVC products are created equal. The effectivity of far-UVC light can be affected by the specific glass envelope for that product. In addition, because the bandwidth of wavelengths for far-UVC is so narrow, it is important to rely on reputable and trusted manufacturers to ensure the product actually falls into the far-UVC category and is not just a UV-C light.

Near UV

UV-A light, more commonly referred to as near UV, includes wavelengths that range between 315nm and 400nm. Closest to the visible light spectrum, near UV can fight some strains of bacteria. This is because UV-A, and some UV-B (280nm to 315nm), have oxidation properties that kill off certain types of bacteria. However, it is not nearly as effective against virus strains as UV-C light. Most commonly, near UV is used to reduce bacterial infections that occur in medical centers or senior care facilities. Near UV light, which is considered safe for use around eyes and skin, help prevent secondary infections in patients who may have a compromised immune system based on a larger infection or disease.

Broad-Spectrum UV

Broad-spectrum UV light includes UV-A, UV-B, and UV-C wavelengths that range from 200nm to 400nm. Because broad-spectrum UV light includes these wavelengths, it includes germicidal and oxidation benefits of all three categories. Some manufacturers will claim these lights are safe for use when eyes and skin are present. This is only true if UV-C is not actually included in that particular product. Because of this, it is extremely important that you only purchase broad-spectrum products claiming to include UV-C from reputable manufacturers. If UV-C is truly included in your broad-spectrum product, you will not be able to operate your light when eyes or skin are present.

To learn more about Action Services Group and our UV Lighting products and services, please visit our main UV Lighting Page and our About Page. We are here to assist you with all things UV Lighting. To Schedule a Call with an Action Services Group UV Lighting Specialist, click the button below.  Website Button - Schedule A Call

Disinfect Your Space with Action Services Group

Your health, and that of your customers, is important. It will continue to be even after Covid-19. If you would like to learn more about the nuances of disinfectant lighting, contact Action Services Group today by calling 610-558-9773 or email [email protected].

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