UV light disinfection is a practice that’s been around since the 1900s. Hospitals, laboratories, and industrial plants have used UV light for sterilization and sanitation for decades. However, it wasn’t until the coronavirus outbreak that the technology garnered much public interest.
Today, we’re seeing a steady rise in commercially available UV lights and lamps for home and public use. In this article, we’ll dive into how UV light functions and just what you can disinfect with it.
How Does UV Light Disinfection Work?
Ultraviolet light is a form of electromagnetic radiation. Divided into three types of wavelengths (UV-A, UV-B, UV-C), UV-C, in particular, is known for its germicidal properties.
UV-C light has the shortest wavelength and the largest energy per photon in the ultraviolet spectrum. It ranges between 200 nm and 290 nm, emitted by UVGI lamps (Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation).
In general, the shorter the wavelength, the more damaging the radiation. Thanks to this germicidal quality, UV-C light can inactivate bacteria, viruses, fungus, mold spores, and other microorganisms.
UV-C radiation penetrates into the cells of viruses and breaks down their protein structure. This alters the structure of their DNA and RNA, inactivating their ability to multiply and reproduce.
Recent research has shown that UV-C light can effectively kill the SARS-CoV-2 virus which causes the COVID-19 disease.
Having said that, exposure to UV-C rays without adequate protection is extremely harmful. Just like bacteria and viruses, humans have DNA, too. It can lead to burns, skin cancer, and eye diseases such as inflammation of the cornea, and cataracts.
Therefore, it is important to wear UV protection goggles, gloves, UV face shields, and long-sleeved clothing while the UV technology is operating.
How Can UV Light Disinfect?
With the many promising studies on UV light disinfection devices, it begs the question of just what you can disinfect with this technology. Thankfully, science provides an answer: that is any smooth, nonporous surface.
These are just some common items and surfaces that you can disinfect with a UV light cleanser:
In today’s world, cellphones are among our number 1 most commonly used devices. We bring them just about anywhere, and they act almost like an extension to us. But while we bathe and wash our hands regularly, do you remember the last time when you disinfected your phone?
Health experts recommend that we disinfect our phones daily with antibacterial wipes. They also recommend using a UV light disinfection wand to kill any lingering viruses and bacteria.
2. Kitchen Counters
As the place where we store, handle, and prepare our food, keeping our kitchen counters as spotless as possible is crucial for our safety.
Many restaurants and commercial kitchens have used UV light disinfection solutions long before the pandemic. UV cleansers are a smart kitchen investment since not only can they kill viruses, but they also tackle mold, mildew, and other food-borne pathogens.
3. Door Knobs and Handles, Light Switches, and other High-Touch Surfaces at Home
Door knobs, handles, and light switches are surfaces that we often overlook when cleaning and disinfecting the household. Although they don’t appear as dirty as your kitchen counter, the reality is different. They pose a higher risk of spreading viruses because many people often touch them.
You can routinely disinfect these contact areas by using high-intensity UV-C radiation. Other surfaces in communal spaces that you should prioritize are cabinet handles, stair rails, faucets, sinks, toilet seats, and remote controls.
4. Desks and Equipment
Most people spend the majority of their day sitting at their desks. As a general rule, the more time you spend in a zone, the filthier it generally is. As you breathe, speak, or even cough throughout the day, you release droplets of fluids that can contain and transmit viruses.
If you eat or snack on your desk, the fallen crumbs further increase the rate of bacterial growth. Disinfecting your desk and equipment with UV light helps limit the spread of disease and contamination.
Keep in mind though that UV light disinfection will only deactivate pathogens. You will still need to get your desk and equipment cleaned to remove remnants of pathogens, dirt, and impurities from them.
Babies and toddlers learn through touch, taste, and play. Keeping a germ-free environment around children has always been essential. As a result, parents now need to take extra precautions as the coronavirus remains viable on different surfaces.
Because they are a fundamental part of a child’s life, toys should rank at the top of a parent’s cleaning priority list. The effectiveness of UV-C light against viruses and other harmful microorganisms make UV wands a nifty disinfection tool for parents and caretakers.
6. Public Surfaces
Keeping your home free of COVID-19 and other harmful pathogens takes serious effort, but it’s definitely easier than disinfecting public and environmental surfaces. Social distancing, masking, and frequent handwashing still remain the best safety precautions. However, it won’t hurt to use a UV cleanser as an extra measure of protection.
Before touching anything outside your home, use a UV cleanser according to its manufacturer instructions to disinfect any questionable surface.
UV light can be used to disinfect various communal high-touch surfaces to reduce and prevent the transmission of pathogens. This includes shopping cart handles, public toilets, elevator buttons, escalator handrails, ATMs, baby changing stations, and public transport handles and headrests.
With proper usage, a UV cleanser can effectively add another layer of protection in your fight against the coronavirus and other pathogens. Unlike harsh chemicals, UV disinfection is an environmentally friendly method. And with the required intensity, distance, dose, and duration, UV-C light can eliminate pathogens in a matter of just minutes or even seconds.
If you’re considering a UV-C product for home use, make sure to purchase a high-quality one from a reputable brand. Not all UV lights are made equal, and research shows that the optimal wavelength for efficiency is between 267 and 286 nanometers. Keep this information in mind while purchasing, and make sure to stick to the manufacturer’s safety instructions for use.