UVC (Ultraviolet-C) technology has been around for several years, primarily used in healthcare and research settings, but this method has been gaining increased attention and usage by consumers in light of the Covid-19 situation. In an effort to mitigate the risk of infections in healthcare, powerful UVC disinfection machines and robots have been developed and tested, but is the same UVC power used in consumer devices?
Touted as a “natural” alternative to conventional disinfection solutions, UVC disinfection devices are available in various shapes and forms to suit consumer needs – think portable lamps, handheld wands, and even mini cabinets that claim to eliminate germs in homes. But how effective are these UVC disinfection machines in killing germs? And is it really safe for personal and home use?
We give you the lowdown on the expert-backed truth about UV light disinfection.
What is UVC?
A quick science lesson: the sun produces a spectrum of electromagnetic radiation at varying wavelengths and frequencies. The three most common rays come in the form of UVA, UVB and UVC.
Most of us are familiar with UVA and UVB, which can penetrate deep into skin to cause damaging effects such as sunburn and even skin cancer. As harmful as it is to humans, these two spectrums have no known effect on bacteria and viruses according to experts. UVC rays, on the other hand, are absorbed by the ozone layer and unable to pass through the atmosphere to reach the earth’s surface, which means we are not directly exposed to it. Hence, UVC can only be created by artificial sources.
When produced artificially, UVC is said to have the shortest and most effective wavelength for killing pathogens. At its optimum wavelength, it has the ability to break up the genetic material in bacteria, viruses and mold spores, therefore preventing them from functioning or reproducing. This makes UVC a powerful form of disinfection for water and surfaces, and has been widely used to reduce the spread of everyday viruses.
How effective is UVC disinfection?
There are limitations to how effective UVC radiation can be. In order for UVC to achieve the desired level of disinfection, direct exposure is needed to inactivate bacteria and viruses on surfaces. Thus, it’s important to ensure that there’s nothing blocking the line of sight from the light source, including dirt, stains or any objects that can cast shadows to the given area.
In addition, it’s also highly dependent on other factors such as wavelength, dosage, and duration of exposure. For instance, the UVC rays are required to be at an optimum wavelength of 200 to 300 nm in order to effectively target the specific organism. It also has to be given at a proper dosage; many UVC disinfection products sold in the consumer market typically come with a lower dose, so a longer duration of exposure to a given surface is needed to ensure effectiveness.
The bottom line? Yes, UVC disinfection devices can be effective at curbing the spread of germs, but only when using the correct device in carefully controlled settings. To give yourself a peace of mind, look for a product with clear instructions and specifications on what it delivers, along with evidence of third-party testing in independent laboratories to validate the efficacy claims made by the manufacturer.
Is UVC light disinfection safe to use?
Many brands have been tapping into UVC technology to create consumer-friendly light disinfection products that are marketed for at-home use. But despite its claims, most of these gadgets’ UV light for room disinfection has low effectiveness and may pose potential health and safety risks. If not used or installed properly, the UVC radiation may cause skin burns and eye injuries if directly exposed to the light source, even briefly.
As such, the National Environment Agency (NEA) advises households to refrain from using UVC-based devices for disinfection purposes at home. If needed, choose products with appropriate safety features that prevent users from any accidental exposure to UVC radiation, such as motion sensors that will automatically switch off the unit when it detects human movement. UVC light disinfection devices should only be operated in an unoccupied, enclosed room.
Little is known about the long-term effects of UVC radiation on humans, so it’s important to understand the health and safety risks involved. Always use UVC disinfection devices with extreme caution; avoid direct contact with the skin, and steer clear of looking straight into the direction of the light source.
Until there’s more research and concrete findings on the safety and efficacy of the many UVC disinfection products that have appeared on the market, it’s best to stick to trusted methods of disinfection that are tested and proven to be effective and safe for consumer use.
About BioCair Singapore
Based in Singapore and a trusted international brand, BioCair develops state-of-the-art alcohol-free disinfectant solutions for healthcare and consumers. All BioCair disinfectant products are tested and proven to be highly effective in killing airborne and surface germs without the use of harmful chemicals. Safe for everyday use, our non-toxic disinfectants are backed up with third-party testings to ensure that all products are safe, reliable and effective without causing any adverse effects to one’s health.