As COVID-19 spreads, many are thinking about sterilization and disinfection. UV sterilization has become popular recently. It’s simple to buy the first thing you see when you’re stressed. However, you must investigate the product and its use before buying it. UVC disinfection systems have four key aspects.
- Misbuying wavelengths can be disastrous.
UV lamps of the right wavelength disinfect. UV-A, UV-B, and UV-C bands are divided by wavelength. The most direct and conclusive sterilizing investigation found that only UV-C wavelengths may directly destroy DNA and RNA. Several studies have killed viruses and bacteria with UV-B and UV-A, although the specific process is unknown.
Most UV “blacklights” emit UV-A, making them worthless for sterilization. Beware of products whose only distinguishing feature is the word “ultraviolet” in their advertising, as dishonest vendors may take advantage of naive customers by labeling their UV-A products as “effective for sterilization” and possibly citing smaller and narrow research studies on a particular virus strain to imply that it would be effective against all viruses, including COVID-19. UV-C, however, kills many viruses. Coronaviruses, avian flu, herpes, influenza A, and polio are included.
The product you buy should also mention the wavelength of ultraviolet energy release in nanometers (abbreviated nm). The DNA and RNA nucleic acids thymine and uracil are exclusively reactive to a small wavelength range, peaking at 265 nanometers. Sterilization is best at 265 nanometers. UV-C LEDs generally use 280 nm, which is farther from the 265 nm peak absorption wavelength and less efficient than 270 nm.
- Protect people, animals, and property against UV-C.
UV-C rays are the strongest. Sunlight lacks UV-C due to Earth’s atmosphere. Thus, UV-C is more dangerous than UV-A and UV-B, which are found in natural daylight. UV-C rays cause sunburn and skin cancer. Avoid UV-C exposure to living things. UV-C photons are invisible, making unintentional disclosure likely. Avoid exposing humans and animals to ultraviolet-C light during sterilizing. Welders wear protective gear because their arcs release UV-C radiation, illustrating their risks. UV-C is the most considerable health risk but can also harm materials. In hospitals, businesses, and residences, UV-C degrades plastic and wood. UV stabilizers affect plastic resistance. Plastics may fade, weaken, or break. Plastic goods can be damaged cosmetically or badly, raising safety concerns. For instance, long-term UV-C disinfection of N95 masks may degrade their ability to filter airborne microorganisms. UVC light is highly harmful to plants. Indoor plants die from too much UVC.
Finally, consider cumulative “dosage” when calculating UV-C risks. That is, it’s not just the peak power and intensity of the UV-C exposure that matters, but also how long you’re exposed to it. Over time, a low-intensity lamp can do as much damage as a high-intensity one.
- Understand UV-C light’s disinfection limits.
UV-C lamps don’t magically disinfect a room. UV-C rays must reach a surface strongly to work. UV-C sterilization cannot achieve “UV shadows,” a severe problem. UV shadows are areas where an item blocks the sun’s rays.
Consider cleaning your phone with a UV-C lamp. You can’t hold your phone, so both sides are visible. Flip your phone many times in the UV-C light to guarantee proper disinfection.
A single UV-C light in a room is unlikely to disinfect every crevice. Are most floors accessible? However, UV-C light didn’t reach all places. UV-C photons, like light, cannot pass through most materials, even transparent ones like plastic and glass. To visually identify which surfaces are appropriately lighted by UV-C radiation and which are in the lamp’s “UV shadow,” place an A-style light bulb in the UV-C lamp’s spot.
The UV-C lamp’s form matters. The fluorescent tube design of traditional UV-C lamps limits UV-C light dispersion and angle. Due to recent advances, flexible UV-C LED strips can be customized and experimented with more than non-UV-C strips.
- Disinfection vs. sterilization
This paragraph interchanges sterilization and disinfection. Disinfection reduces the chance of infection, while sterilization eliminates all sources of infection. Alcohol wipes and other disinfectants claim a 99.999% kill rate, meaning only 0.001% of bacteria survive. They are disinfectants rather than sterilizers. UV-C light cannot kill bacteria, so additional methods must be used. UV-C kills viruses effectively; however, outcomes are never perfect, even when properly manufactured and installed. To achieve sterility, use multiple preventative measures, including UV-C. Disinfectant wipes and UV-C light can kill bacteria on your phone. Even after cleaning, UV-C treatment does not guarantee sterility.
In conclusion, those mentioned above are the four aspects of UV sterilization systems that you must consider when purchasing them.