UV Lights for Room Disinfection: Reality or a Myth?
Top Myths about UV Lights for Room Disinfection
The COVID-19 pandemic opened up an avenue in the field of disinfection. Many unpopular yet effective disinfection methods sprung out and were widely used for disinfection purposes. One such disinfection method employed by the masses was the UV lights. UV lights were deployed for room disinfection in households. Does it really work, or is it a myth? This article will shed light on whether you should deploy UV lights for room disinfection or not!
Myth 1 - UV light causes skin cancer. It doesn’t have any disinfectant properties.
To clear this myth, let’s find out more about UV light.
What is UV light?
UV light stands for ultraviolet light, which is a type of electromagnetic radiation that has a wavelength range of 100-400 nm (nanometres). UV radiation has considerably more energy than visible light and has a set of distinct properties. UV light is further classified into UVA, UVB, and UVC. The basis of classification is wavelength & energy levels.
Did you know?
Humans can get exposed to UV light naturally. Sun is the primary source of natural UV light. So, the next time when you step out in broad sunlight, remember that you may get exposed to UV light as well. Which type of UV light are you exposed to?
UVA (315-400 nm)
UVA is the naturally present UV light type that has the least amount of energy. UVA has detrimental effects on humans, especially on the skin. It is said to have aging & damaging properties. You should avoid UVA as much as possible.
UVB (280-315 nm)
By far the most dangerous UV light type, which is known to have the most detrimental effects on the skin. It can cause skin burns, and frequent exposure can even cause skin cancer!
Tip - When tanning, do consider applying a UV protection cream (which protects against UVA & UVB)
UVC (100-280 nm)
UVC is the UV light type that has the highest energy. UVC doesn’t reach the earth’s surface as most of it is absorbed by the ozone layer and hence natural exposure is a rare phenomenon. But, it has disinfection properties which have encouraged humans to build equipment that acts as a source of UVC light. UVC light is capable of disinfecting air, water, and solid surfaces. UVC has anti-germicidal properties and can kill a wide range of bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa, and other pathogens. UVC does this by destroying the vital proteins, DNA, and RNA of these pathogens. It causes the destruction of necessary functions in the germs and eventually annihilates them.
So, whenever you come across UV light as a disinfectant, it actually means that we are using UVC light only. UVA & UVB components are not used as disinfectants due to less efficiency & higher risks.
You can also check out the article on different types of disinfection.
Myth 2 - There are many risks associated with UV light thus is used as a disinfectant only in commercial establishments.
Is UV light used for room disinfection?
Using UV light for disinfection is nothing new. UV has been used as a disinfectant for both air & water for more than four decades now! With technological progress, many UV disinfection tools have emerged and are utilized for various disinfection purposes. These applications include both commercial & household applications. For example, there is a product called a UV sterilizer and wireless charger. It uses UV light to disinfect the mobile screen and also charge it wirelessly (UV light has no role in charging the device).
It doesn’t take away the right to know about the potential risks associated with UV light disinfection. Though many scientists & institutions have proven the disinfection properties of UV light, there are some risks of which one must be aware. UVC can cause harm to the human skin & eyes. So, UVC light should only be used to disinfect surfaces.
Myth 3 - UV disinfectant lamps are expensive, inefficient, and dangerous.
Most UV disinfectant lamps are designed, in such a way that they don’t cause harm to humans & animals, even if they come in contact with them (though this isn’t an excuse to come in contact with it). Most of these lamps are not approved by a regulatory body like FDA so try to get hold of the approved ones only for ensuring safety. One must understand that UV disinfectant lamps are no all-in-one solution for disinfection. They disinfect surfaces, air, and liquid only. For personal disinfection, one must continue to use soap & water, hand sanitizers, and other necessary disinfectants.
The UV disinfectant lamps that are used for household & commercial purposes have a high range and low dosage that is just enough to destroy the pathogens and not cause any harm to humans & animals. It means that the contact time required is also increased. UV light can efficiently destroy pathogens when it comes to direct exposure. So, if there is any contamination on the surface, then the disinfection may not occur or may require more contact time.
Did you know?
UV disinfection has been practiced in hospitals & businesses for more than a decade.
Myth 4 - UV lights for room disinfection is a new technology.
Before the novel coronavirus, UV disinfectant lamps were used to counter the tuberculosis bacteria in the 1950s. They were also called germicidal lamps. It has been more than a century since UV light has been used as a disinfectant. It was in 1930 that the first commercial UV disinfectant lamps were introduced.
Check out the following release to know more about the effects of UV light on tuberculosis.
Myth 5 - UV light was abandoned as a disinfectant because of its side effects.
The primary reason for abandoning UV light for disinfection was the availability of cheaper antibiotics & vaccines. With technological growth, UV light sources have been revamped to minimize side effects & enhance efficiency.
Note - Don't come in contact with UV light. Picture is only for reference. Viewer discretion is advised.
Curious ones can check out how to utilize bleach solution as a disinfectant.
Myth 6 - UV disinfectant lamps have mercury & produce ozone.
Most UV disinfectant lamps have entirely stopped using mercury. UVC rays are capable of producing ozone only if their wavelength is below 242 nm. Most UV disinfectant lamps produce a higher wavelength (>242 nm) of UVC rays.
If you want to know more about such myths, then check out UV disinfection myths.
UV lights for room disinfection can be employed provided that one understands the risks associated with it. For ensuring safety, choose UV disinfectant lamps that are FDA-approved and have a low dosage. Far-UVC disinfectant lamps & UVC-producing LEDs are the best choices. The myths related to UV lights are mostly due to a lack of understanding. We hope that the article clears any misconception about UV lights related to their disinfection.