What Is UV or UV-C Lighting?

COVID-19 has brought on a new wave of protective measures. According to some, your light source may be able to help prevent the spread of viruses. But is this true? Below, the experts here at Action Services Group help explain how UV and UV-C lighting work, and whether they are truly able to help destroy viruses like COVID-19 before they have a chance to infect others.

What is UV Lighting?

Ultraviolet, or UV, lighting occurs naturally in sunlight. In fact, UV lighting is a type of electromagnetic radiation that makes up roughly 10% of the sun’s light.

The electromagnetic energy that makes up ultraviolet lighting is measured in wavelengths. This energy, which is shorter than both visible and infrared light, ranges from 100 nanometers (nm) to 400nm. As such, UV light is classified into three sub-bands. This includes UV-A, UV-B, and UV-C classifications.

What is UV-C Lighting?

To understand UV-C, you must first know how each of the sub-bands is classified. UV-A wavelengths are considered “near” and are those that range between 315nm and 400nm. UV-B wavelengths, on the other hand, are those that are considered “middle” and measure between 280nm and 315nm. Thus UV-C wavelengths, which range between 100nm and 280nm, are considered “far”.

Light Spectrum - UV and UV-C

Electromagnetic radiation that measures below 290nm is also referred to as ultramagnetic radiation. Ultramagnetic radiation is naturally absorbed by Earth’s atmosphere. This means the bulk of all UV-B and all of UV-C wavelengths are blocked by Earth’s ozone layer before they reach us.

What is UV Disinfection Lighting?

Unfortunately, UV lighting with wavelengths between 200nm and 280nm are also considered “germicidal”. Because the ozone layer prevents these wavelengths from entering Earth’s atmosphere, artificial UV-C lighting must be created so that we can harness the natural germicidal properties it contains.

While you may have never heard of it, UV disinfection lighting is actually commonly used to kill microbes that exist in both air and water, as well as on surfaces.

Does UV Light Kill Viruses and Bacteria?

When microorganisms are exposed to UV-C wavelengths, their genetic material becomes impacted and is unable to reproduce. If the ability of a virus or bacteria to reproduce becomes damaged, they are unable to spread and infect others. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), UV-C lighting can kill even bacteria that are considered “drug-resistant”. Furthermore, while exposure time for certain bacterial strains may vary, there are no known microbes that have been able to develop an immunity to an ultraviolet light sanitizer. (The US Department of Homeland Security – Federal Emergency Management Agency, also known as FEMA, highly recommends that hospitals use of UV-C lighting to help prevent the spread of diseases and illnesses.)

In short, UV disinfection lighting works to kill microbes by damaging their DNA and RNA. Because of this, UV-C is a light sanitizer.


If you are interested in discovering if ALL UV light acts as a sanitizer, the answer is NO. Find out what types of UV Lighting can help you sanitize your facilities by reading, Does All UV Lighting Act as a Disinfectant?  If you have more questions, you can Schedule a Call with an Action Services Group UV Lighting Specialist, click the button below.

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COVID-19 is a serious epidemic. But it is certainly not the only virus or bacteria that can make you or your customers seriously ill. If you would like to learn more about using an ultraviolet light sanitizer, contact Action Services Group today by calling 800-223-0982 or email info@actionservicesgroup.com.

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