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How UV Disinfection Works

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought sharp focus to germs and how they spread.

Almost overnight, fear of contracting this insidious and virulent killer has had a huge cultural impact around the world.

Locking down, working from home, being conscious of who we see, where we go, what we do. These are all things we haven’t thought about much before.

Most of all, COVID-19 has made us all think about hygiene.

COVID-19 and keeping clean

We know that being more aware of sneezing, coughing and physical contact are key to minimising the spread and the potentially deadly effects of this coronavirus.

First and foremost, washing hands, especially before and after being in public places, and wearing masks, are the most effective way to protect ourselves and others.

Liquid sanitizers and disinfectants can also be very effective, especially for our hands (alcohol) and expansive areas such as floors (bleach-based solutions).

However, they are not suitable for all surfaces – think fabrics, electronics – which can degrade as a result of repeated exposure to harsh chemicals.

UV-C sanitizing

A sound and scientifically proven alternative is UV-C.

Used correctly, UV-C is an effective tool against pathogens of all kinds. From coronaviruses, to cold and flu bugs, all viruses and bacteria, and even mould and fungus spores, a UV-C sanitizing wand such as this should be included in your disinfecting arsenal.

UV-C is not an alternative to social distancing, wearing masks, and frequently handwashing, but as a supplemental measure for situations where alcohol or bleach solutions are not practical.

Around the home and out and about, there are countless applications for UV-C sanitizing technology.

Clothing, shoes, shared equipment, vehicle interiors, kitchen and food preparation equipment, anything you don’t want to smear with liquid, and often toxic, sanitizers.

What is UV-C?

Ultraviolet (UV) light is a component of the electromagnetic spectrum that falls in the region between visible light and X-Rays. UV light falls into three wavelength categories: UV-A, UV-B, and UV-C.

UV-C light is a short-wavelength, ultraviolet light that breaks apart germ DNA or RNA, leaving it unable to function or reproduce. It's important to note that UV-B is only nominally germicidal and UV-A is not at all. 

What is UV-C disinfection?

UV Disinfection uses ultraviolet (UV-C) light at sufficiently short wavelength to disable microorganisms.  It is also referred to as Ultraviolet Germicidal irradiation (UVGI). 

UV Disinfection has many applications, such as food, water and air purification.

UV-C is harmful to microorganisms and is effective in destroying the nucleic acids in these organisms so that their DNA is disrupted. 

It is a process similar to "sunburn" in humans, which occurs under the effect of longer wavelength UVB.  Micro-organisms have less protection and are quickly destroyed by UV-C radiation. 

Is UV-C safe?

The Earth’s atmosphere filters out UV-C, which is just as well as it is the most powerful of the UV rays and can be harmful to living things. 

Therefore, UV sanitizing is not suitable for use on skin, and care must be taken to avoid contact with the eyes of humans and animals.

However, used correctly, UV-C can be a powerful and perfectly safe disinfectant. 

UV-C attacks cells’ DNA, killing bacteria and rendering viruses unable to function or reproduce.

UV as a germicide has a long history

Germicidal irradiation  is nothing new. In fact, ultraviolet germicidal irradiation dates back to 1878, when a scientific paper on sterilizing bacteria using short-wavelength light was first published. 

In 1903, Niels Finsen was awarded the Nobel Prize for medicine for using UV against lupus vulgaris, also known as tuberculosis of the skin. 

UV light was first used to disinfect drinking water in France in 1910.

Now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, UV is being used to disinfect hospitals and other public  facilities.

Given how recently COVID-19 has surfaced, scientists have not yet had time to conclusively evaluate the effectiveness of UV-C on this particular coronavirus, however, there have been numerous successful tests.

Reputable vendors of domestic LED UV-C sanitizers such as these recommend holding the light as close to the item as possible (half an inch is ideal), and exposing the object for 20 seconds or so, to sanitize any surface the light can reach.

Not all UV-C sanitizers are the same

There’s a popular misconception that electronics ‘all come out of the same factory’.

But in fact, there is huge variation in quality when it comes to UV Sanitizers.

First, many of the UV Sanitizers that have been rushed to market to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic use UV-A or UV-B lights, which are completely useless for killing viruses.

Then there is the quality of the UV-C LEDs. Lower quality LEDs take out as little as 20 percent of germs.

The LEDs used in these portable, rechargeable UV-C LED Sanitizers are the highest quality and most effective in their class and each one is individually tested before shipped to ensure maximum efficacy. 

Important: UV-C light does not replace existing hygiene protocols. Use as an extra layer of safety on top of frequent hand-washing, cleaning and disinfection practices. Never look into the UV-C lamp and never use on skin or hands.