What Is Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation (UVGI)?

“Where were you when coronavirus hit?” That may not be a question being asked right now, but history books may view it differently in the future. From massive panic, which depleted stores of toilet paper, Lysol and canned goods, to months of state-imposed home lockdowns – COVID-19 has proven the damaging and scary effects of a single virus strain.

The name “Ultraviolent Germicidal Irradiation” may not be as common as “Lysol”, however, the benefits of this lengthy-phrase are worth looking into. Below, the experts here at Action Services Group explain what UVGI is and how light can kill deadly microorganisms.

What is UVGI or Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation?

UVGI, which is short for Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation, is a type of ultraviolet (UV) light that naturally damages the DNA and RNA of microorganisms and pathogens and prevents the spread of bacteria and viruses. (Okay, so technically a virus is not a living microorganism. That means UVGI does not actually “kill” a virus; it does, however, inactivate the virus and prevent any illnesses it may spread.)

Are UV-C Lighting and UVGI the Same Thing?

Before we get into the disinfecting nature of UVGI light, it is important to understand the nuances of UV light in general. After all – we have all heard that UV light is bad for your skin and can actually cause diseases, such as cancer.

Understanding UV Wavelengths

UV light is a naturally occurring electromagnetic radiation. (It actually accounts for 10% of the light emitted by the sun.) Because the Earth’s atmosphere absorbs ultramagnetic radiation, UV wavelengths below 290nm do not naturally reach the planet’s surface.

The wavelengths of UV light are shorter than those of both visible light and infrared light, ranging between 100 nanometers (nm) and 400nm. Based on wavelengths, UV light is further broken down into three sub-bands: UV-A (315nm to 400nm), UV-B (280nm to 315nm), and UV-C (200nm to 280nm).

Understanding UV Wavelengths

Disinfecting Wavelengths

The most effective germicidal wavelengths occur between 200nm and 280nm. Understanding the sub-bands of UV light above, that means that UV-C and UVGI wavelengths are indeed the same thing! (Although it is not the only type of Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation light.) In fact, according to the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES), UV-C is the most effective of all germicidal UV light when it comes to disinfection.


To answer questions like, What is UV Lighting? Or What is UV-C Lighting? We suggest reading the first blog in our UV Lighting blog series, What is UV or UV-C Lighting? If you can’t find the answers to your questions, email us at info@actionservicesgroup.com and we will have our UV lighting experts reach out and answer them, or you can Schedule a Call by clicking the button below.

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What Can UVGI Disinfect?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sterilization, disinfection and decontamination are all different, although they are often used interchangeably. Sterilization occurs when a physical or chemical method is used to destroy or eliminate microbial life. Disinfection, however, occurs when pathogenic microorganisms are eliminated on objects. Sterilization and/or decontamination are both processes that are used to decontaminate a surface or area. In fact, UV-C is so effective, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has been recommending UVGI light be used for the disinfection of medical areas and devices since the early 2000s.

Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation can be used to disinfect air, water, and surfaces. However, precautions must be taken as UV-C lighting is quite harmful when it comes into contact with your eyes or skin. So how does this work?

Air Disinfection

The air we breathe indoors is circulated. That means there is a high likelihood that contaminants can be transferred throughout a building rapidly, leading from one sick person to dozens within a relatively short period of time. To help prevent this, UV-C lamps can be installed in ceiling fixtures or HVAC units. Not only are human eyes and skin naturally sheltered from the UV-C light by the fixtures and units themselves, but additional shields can also be installed to ensure radiation from the wavelengths do not come into contact with people at any time.

Water Disinfection

For many businesses, water is sourced from municipalities. This water, which filters from natural sources to treatment plants and eventually to homes, businesses, and sewage plants, can contain any number of pathogens. UVGI lights can be inserted into water tanks to help destroy pathogens before they make it into your food, showers, sinks, washing machines, and more.

Surfaces Disinfection

Bacteria and viruses, like COVID-19, can last from several minutes to days on different surfaces. As such, properly installed UV-C lamps can be used to illuminate an entire area, such as a room, and kill or inactivate these microorganisms. They can also be used to disinfect objects, like medical tools.

(When used to disinfect an entire room, no one should be in the room while the light is on.)

UVGI Light with Action Services Group

Today, we are reminded of how fragile our health is. After all, one virus strain has managed to shut countries around the world down and send millions of people into confinement. While not enough is known about COVID-19 at this time, experts agree that the proven disinfecting properties of UVGI are highly beneficial when it comes to preventing the spread of illnesses and diseases.

If you are interested in learning more about using UVGI to disinfect air, water, or surface areas, contact Action Services Group today by calling 800-223-0982 or email info@actionservicesgroup.com.

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