Ultraviolet disinfection, aka how to eliminate any type of virus for good
The power of ultraviolet disinfection is no secret. For the last 40 years, UVC radiation has been used to eliminate all sorts of bacteria and viruses, including one type that, unfortunately, we’re all familiar with: coronaviruses. In fact, various studies have corroborated the ability of UVC to destroy SARS-CoV-2 with a proven efficacy of 99%, in just a few seconds.
Read on to find out what ultraviolet light is used for and everything you need to know about this traditional yet efficient disinfection method.
This article addresses...
- HOW UV DISINFECTION WORKS
- WHERE TO USE UVC DISINFECTION
- TYPES OF UVC DISINFECTION PRODUCTS
- HOW TO INSTALL UVC DISINFECTION LIGHTS
- SAFETY CONSIDERATIONS
How UV disinfection works
Ultraviolet radiation can break down viral and bacterial DNA chains. The elimination time varies depending on the type of virus, though testing to date has shown that SARS-CoV-2 can be destroyed with just 6 seconds of UVC exposure.
UVC light can be used to completely disinfect surfaces and even air, thus eliminating the risk of contagion by contact and via aerosols.
Various products have been developed over recent years to effectively treat spaces with UVC radiation. By installing special lights, trolleys or robots, it’s possible to eliminate viruses and bacteria from any room or surface.
Where to use UVC disinfection
UVC disinfection has multiple applications including hospitals, clinics, offices, public buildings, schools, sports facilities, public toilets, public transport, kitchens, and many more.
One particularly interesting use of UVC is to keep the cooling systems in air-conditioning conduits free from viruses and bacteria, with the added bonus that it eliminates bad odours and prevents these from travelling through all affected spaces.
Types of UVC disinfection products
There are two products that can generate UVC radiation for eliminating all viruses and bacteria from the air and any surface, each with its own advantages and characteristics.
UVC disinfection by LED facilitates targeted application and is more resilient against all temperatures, meaning it’s usually more expensive.
UVC disinfection using fluorescence is more economical but is less effective at low temperatures, e.g. it is 50% less effective in areas with temperatures below 0 degrees. UVC fluorescence systems also take longer to start working.
How to instal UVC disinfection lights
UVC lighting fixtures come in a range of shapes and sizes and are designed with different applications in mind. For example, there are specific fixtures for ceilings and walls. Which should you choose? Consider the following factors before making your decision.
- Height and distance. Light fixtures should be installed a sufficient distance from transit areas and rooms used by people.
- Installed power. The effectiveness of this type of disinfection relies on the light output, i.e. the amount of energy. Check that the contracted power meets this requirement or if you need to increase it.
- Usage time. Before installing any UVC lights, bear in mind that these should operate for the minimum time necessary, particularly if they are in an area with high footfall.
- Distribution. UVC systems should be distributed evenly throughout the space to ensure all areas are covered. Otherwise, the virus could survive and continue to spread.
- Maintenance. These systems require maintenance. This means more or less continuous monitoring to ensure they are working properly in addition to regular cleaning to prevent dust from accumulating.
The use of UV radiation to eliminate viruses and bacteria from the air and from surfaces is not dangerous when used correctly. Direct exposure to UV light can be harmful to people, but this risk can be managed by following these simple guidelines to ensure an effective and safe result.
- Activate the systems when the spaces are empty. All efforts should be made to ensure that UVC devices are used when no one is present.
- Automatic night time activation. These systems should ideally be run at night, when spaces are empty or footfall is very low. The system can be automated using a timing device to avoid manual errors and other mistakes.
- Avoid direct contact with skin and eyes. Under no circumstances should UV radiation reach people’s skin or eyes.
- Motion detectors. To ensure even greater safety, systems should ideally have motion detectors enabling them to turn off automatically as soon as someone enters the space.
- Operational warning. UV radiation systems should ideally be equipped with some kind of warning device – typically a red light – to warn people that they are operational.
The benefits of UVC systems are clear, and there is no doubt that UV disinfection is one of the best solutions for keeping spaces and surfaces clean and safe.
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