Is Germicidal UV Light Safe?
April 30, 2020
The novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has brought a lot of attention to how we can better prevent germs and the spread of deadly illnesses. Certainly, washing your hands and wearing face masks have been deemed essential by medical experts and health professionals. But is there more we can do to stop the spread of viruses and bacteria? Today, the experts here at Action Services Group would like to talk about the use of germicidal ultraviolet (UV) light, including whether it is safe for use, the advantages of such a light, and how it actually works to help clean not only objects, but air and water as well.
Is Germicidal UV Light Safe?
UV light is a naturally occurring phenomenon. In fact, 10% of the sun’s rays contain UV light, which is a form of electromagnetic radiation. Science has proven that UV light can be used to prevent the spread of microorganisms and pathogens. But we have also heard the warnings about the relationship between cancer, UV light, and radiation. The sun produces several different types of light, which include ultraviolet, visible, and infrared wavelengths. UV light includes wavelengths that are between x-ray and visible light. The nuances that occur within the UV spectrum separate these wavelengths into three sub-bands. This includes UV-A, UV-B, and UV-C wavelengths. Wavelengths, which are measured in nanometers (nm), make all the difference when it comes to germicide. UV-A light, which includes wavelengths between 315nm and 400nm, are considered the ones nearest to visible light. UV-B light, which ranges between 280nm and 215nm, are considered “middle” wavelengths. UV-C light, which spans between 200nm and 280nm, are those farthest from visible light. They are also the wavelengths considered to have germicidal properties.
To learn more about UV Lighting and the different wavelengths, try reading our blog, What is UV or UV-C Lighting? It is one of our educational blogs in our UV Lighting Series. If you have questions you can’t seem to find answers for, email us at [email protected] and we will have our UV-C lighting experts reach out and answer them, or you can Schedule a Call by clicking the button below.
The Earth’s atmosphere naturally absorbs UV wavelengths that are below 290nm. That means that naturally occurring UV-C germicidal light is inhibited from reaching us by the ozone layer. While this may mean the sun is not killing bacteria and viruses before they contaminate us, there are some benefits to this. UV-C germicidal light is not safe for skin and eyes. While there are no reports of long-term damage caused by the use of UV-C germicidal light, the temporary consequences can be painful. UV light can also damage materials if prolonged exposure occurs. Plastics, for example, can become brittle and colors may fade as prolonged exposure degrades the material. When used properly, germicidal light is extremely safe and effective. Short bursts of exposure are recommended when using to disinfect an entire room. Portable units, such as desk-top lights or self-contained UV-C light boxes, such as those used in your local nail salon for disinfecting clippers and tools, make surface use easy as well.
What are the Advantages of UV-C Germicidal Light?
While this may sound like some sci-fi invention, the benefits of this long-standing prevention method is well known. In addition to being safe when used properly, some of the benefits of germicidal light also include:
- Non-Toxic: Germicidal UV light is completely non-toxic. Unlike harsh chemicals that can leave behind residue, as well as germs and other particles – germicidal light can reach into every cranny and crevice. Furthermore, for those who suffer from breathing conditions, harsh chemicals may aggravate symptoms. This is not so with germicidal light.
- Effective: To date, almost all viruses or bacteria that have been exposed to germicidal UV light have been unable to survive its effects. That means that germicidal light is 99.9% effective. Additionally, all known viruses and bacteria have yet to develop a tolerance towards UV-C germicidal light, meaning there is no chance of these microorganisms surviving exposure.
- Multi-Surface Applications: Germicidal UV light has been known to kill microorganisms and pathogens found not only on surfaces but also in water and air. Because of this, there are many different light configurations that have been created to ensure safe, affordable use for almost any type of application. From UV lights that can be inserted into tanks to purify water to overhead automatic fixtures that can briefly trigger UV ceiling lights in an unoccupied room – the application of germicidal light can be affordable and easy no matter what your usage might be.
To learn more about (What) UV-C Lighting can sterilize, try reading our blog, What is Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation (UVGI)? It is one of our educational blog topics in our UV Lighting Series.
How Does UV Light Sterilization Work?
Germicidal UV light has many benefits. But the most important, given the current crisis, are sterilization and disinfection applications. To explain how this occurs, it is important to understand what sterilization, disinfection, and decontamination actually mean according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- Sterilization: Sterilization is a process through which microbial life is destroyed or eliminated through physical or chemical methods. UV light sterilization breaks down chemical bonds found in microorganisms. In doing so, it disrupts their regular DNA and RNA sequences and prevents the cells from reproducing. When this occurs, bacteria and viruses are no longer able to spread, therefore sterilizing them.
- Disinfection: Disinfection occurs when a process is used to eliminate many, if not all, pathogens on an inanimate object. As with UV light sterilization, the RNA and DNA of pathogens are disrupted when exposed to germicidal light. Again, this prevents their ability to reproduce, eventually leading to their death or inactivation.
- Decontamination: Decontamination is what occurs when an object or area has been sterilized and disinfected. Because of this, UV germicidal light is a great way to decontaminate items and areas as it destroys microorganisms and pathogens without immunity.
Germicidal UV Light with Action Services Group
If you are considering investing in germicidal UV light, Action Services Group can help. Contact us today to learn more about the benefits, fixtures, and applications of germicidal UV light today! Call 610-558-9773, email [email protected] or schedule a call.
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