UV has been used for disinfection since the mid-20th century, with beginnings even earlier when sunlight was investigated for bactericidal effects in the mid-19th century. It’s used for drinking and wastewater treatment, air disinfection, the treatment of fruit and vegetable juices, as well as a myriad of home devices for disinfecting everything from toothbrushes to tablet computers. Within research facilities, UV has been an option when purchasing Biological Safety Cabinets for years, and can also be used within ductwork.
UV technology has advanced in recent years to become more reliable. Ballasts being used today are able to maintain the power output of UV bulbs for far longer than in the past. UV bulbs today have rated lifespans in the thousands of hours. This has allowed UV systems to become more viable for wide ranging use.
The use of UV has recently grown within the healthcare industry to provide disinfection of room surfaces in addition to existing cleaning methods. The use of ultraviolet light for surface disinfection within research facilities has started to increase as well due to its ease of use, short dosage times, and broad efficacy.
How Does UV Work?
Ultraviolet light exists within the spectrum of light between 10 and 400 nm. The germicidal range of UV is within the 100-295nm wavelengths, known as UV-C, with the peak wavelength for germicidal activity being 265 nm. This range of UV light is absorbed by the DNA and RNA of microorganisms, which causes changes in the DNA and RNA structure, rendering the microorganisms incapable of replicating. A cell that can’t reproduce is considered dead; since it is unable to multiply to infectious numbers within a host. This is why UV disinfection is sometimes called ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI).
Our UV systems use low-pressure, mercury-arc germicidal lamps which are designed to produce the highest amounts of UV radiation - where 90% of energy is typically generated at 254nm. This radiation is very close to the peak of the germicidal effectiveness curve of 265nm, the most lethal wavelength to microorganisms.
What is UV Effective Against?
UV has been proven effective against a broad spectrum of microorganisms. Viruses contain RNA or DNA and are thus susceptible to irradiation. Bacteria and fungi both contain DNA and are similarly vulnerable to UV light. Spores are also susceptible to UV. With the longstanding use of UV for disinfection, there is a plethora of information regarding dosages necessary to inactivate different microorganisms. Bacteria are generally easier to inactivate than viruses, with fungi and spores being even harder to inactivate with UV.
UV-C is efective against COVID-19
To kill SARS Coronavirus, an UV-C dose of 241 J/(m2) is needed for disinfection
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