Everyone seems to be more germ-conscious these days. Despite the world going back to pre-Covid levels of normality, the constant dread of coming into contact with germs never really ends – global health crisis or not.
So it’s perhaps not surprising that people have been increasingly invested in the recent trend of ultraviolet-C (UVC) products. These germicidal gadgets – often in the form of portable lamps, sterilisation boxes and even handheld wands – have the ability to zap harmful germs and bacteria on surfaces like furniture and bedding, and even help to disinfect high-touch objects like electronic devices, wallets and keys.
But is it really as effective as it claims, or is it too good to be true? Before you decide to purchase your very own UVC device, here are some important points to take note of.
What is UVC?
UVC radiation works by breaking down the genetic material in bacteria, viruses and mould spores, therefore preventing a microorganism from multiplying. This ultimately leads to the inactivation of the virus as it’s unable to replicate itself, thus rendering it harmless and no longer infectious. UVC has the shortest and most effective wavelength for killing pathogens. Read more about UVC disinfection here.
#1 Are UVC products effective for disinfecting surfaces?
The effectiveness is highly dependent on its wavelength, dosage, and duration of exposure. If used in the proper settings and given the correct amount of time, UVC works as a household disinfectant. Thus, it’s important to ensure that the UVC product follows the recommended wavelength guidance for killing bacteria as well as the exposure time.
There are also additional factors to be considered when using UVC for disinfection. For one, UVC rays are unable to reach germs in shadowed recesses such as window mouldings and counters with grooves, which may pose a challenge in homes with plenty of hidden nooks and crannies. It’s also incapable of penetrating coverings like dust, stains and soil, which may negatively affect its efficacy levels. In other words, the pathogen will not be eliminated if it’s covered, say under the phone or beneath a door crack, or in the shadows.
To ensure optimum usage, the UVC light must be placed in an open area with direct exposure to the light source, with no obstructions that may block the light.
#2 Can a UVC light wand kill off bacteria and viruses?
Compact, handheld wands have been used to disinfect small items such as your handphones and other electronic devices. However, most of these products emit a small amount of UVC radiation at the point of contact, which will not provide adequate disinfection results if the wavelength is not powerful enough and the germ is not directly exposed to the UVC light. This means that waving it over an object for a few seconds will not be enough to kill off germs completely. Instead, the wand has to be held onto the given surface area for a longer duration of time in order to ensure effectiveness.
#3 Do UVC products help to disinfect the air in a room?
Most UVC products in the market are designed for surface disinfection only, and do not provide adequate information detailing the effectiveness against airborne germs. In this case, you’re advised to properly review any marketing claims to ensure that they are accurate, valid and backed up with legitimate evidence. Be sure to always check with the manufacturer for third-party testing certifications to validate its safety and efficacy levels.
#4 Is it safe to use UVC products at home?
UVC radiation has wavelengths of 100 – 280 nm, which falls under the spectrum of the sun’s radiation that we are rarely exposed to, according to the National Environment Agency (NEA). This is because the ozone layer in the stratosphere prevents the UVC rays from reaching the surface of the earth, which means we are not directly exposed to it.
As such, UVC products may pose potential health and safety hazards if there’s accidental exposure, especially in household environments where children, pets or the elderly are present. If not used or installed properly, direct exposure to the light source (even briefly) may cause severe skin burns and eye injuries. To prevent health risks, the NEA advises households against using UVC products for home disinfection purposes.
If needed, choose products with appropriate safety features, such as motion sensors that automatically switch off the device when a person or animal approaches. Such safety features help to prevent users from any accidental exposure to UVC radiation.
#5 Do UVC damage paint, plastics and other wall materials, or harm plants?
In general, UVC light has the ability to degrade certain materials, such as plastic, polymers, dyed textiles and other painted surfaces. This causes it to fade and even start cracking over time. It may also have a harmful effect on plants, so it’s not recommended to place any houseplants in rooms where a UVC light source is present.
A safer and more effective way to disinfect your home?
Every method of disinfection has its pros and cons. It’s important to follow manufacturers’ instructions and safety precautions for any UVC disinfection device that you purchase.
If you’re looking for a safer and more effective solution to keep your home germ-free, consider BioCair. Specially formulated to combat both surface and airborne pathogens, BioCair’s aerial disinfection machines are tested and proven to be effective against 99.999% of bacteria, viruses, fungus and spores. Safe for everyday use, these non-toxic disinfectant products are backed up with third-party tests to ensure that they are safe, reliable and effective without causing any adverse effects.