The World Health Organization and the Chief Sanitary Inspectorate both recommend UV-C radiation as one of the ways to eliminate coronavirus. It is an effective way to neutralize harmful viruses, bacteria and other microorganisms.
The UV-C radiation has been well-known for years and vastly used in hospitals and public spaces in many countries. New antimicrobial devices utilizing UV-C radiation appeared on the market in response to the COVID-19 pandemic situation.
The air-flow UV-C lamps efficiently reduce the risk of infection and can be used in spaces with people and animals. According to Jamie Childress, an engineer at Boeing Research & Technology, the UV-C radiation will be widely used to disinfect passenger aircrafts.
How Does UV-C Radiation Work?
The technology of air and surface disinfection is based on the viricidal and bactericidal effect of the UV-C electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength from 100nm to 280nm.
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The natural UV-C radiation generated by the Sun does not reach our planet due to the Earth’s protective ozone layer. The artificial sources of UV-C are mercury and halogen lamps, lasers and special LED lamps. One of the essential problems with these UV-C sources is their carcinogenic effect on the human skin and, as in the case of the whole UV radiation range, they cause eye damage. This fact imposes strict requirements for safe construction of sterilizing devices, especially ones for domestic application.
The UV-C radiation is particularly effective in eliminating viruses from the air and surfaces. Viruses contain nucleic acids, DNA or RNA (the same applies to COVID-19), which cause permanent genetic changes inside the infected cells. The UV-C directly affects the DNA and RNA changing its chemical structure and inactivating infectiveness of viruses, eventually.
Washing hands with soap and cleaning contaminated surfaces with disinfecting agents efficiently eliminate viruses. These methods, however, are inefficient when it comes to viruses contained in micro-droplets
circulating in the air. Such clouds of mixture created by infected people while breathing and coughing are the most dangerous for other people. The requirement for wearing facemasks is one of the ways to prevent people from inhaling contaminated droplets. But it is significantly more effective to systematically sterilize the air with UV-C radiation.
Various studies from the last decades revealed that UV-C sterilization is among the most efficient and easiest methods for air decontamination and purifying drinking water. Disinfection with UV radiation is utilized in healthcare institutions and laboratory facilities.
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As mentioned in The New York Times, the method is used to disinfect hospital rooms for patients with severe infectious diseases, such as Clostridium Difficile. The same newspaper states that the UV-C was one of the weapons against Ebola pandemic in 2014.
Effectiveness of the UV-C Radiation in Fighting COVID-19
According to the World Health Organization, the ‘airborne-mediated microbial diseases represent one of the major challenges to worldwide public health. Common examples are influenza, appearing in seasonal and pandemic forms, and bacterially-based airborne-mediated diseases such as tuberculosis, increasingly emerging in multi-drug resistant form.’
Today, COVID-19 is the biggest epidemiological risk for the entire humankind. Without medication and vaccine, the key question is how to reduce the risk of infection in spaces where people live and work.
There are quite efficient methods of ozonation to disinfect rooms. They have some drawbacks, however. During ozonation, nobody can be inside the room and space needs to be ventilated after the disinfection due to the harmful effects of the ozone gas. So, how do you eliminate viruses when there are people in the room, whether at work or at home?
Building on the most recent research results, several companies developed and started a mass-scale production of air-flow UV-C devices. The examples are Bio-Tech UV in the United States, the German company IST and the Polish-American brand Sayoli in the European market.
How Does the Air-flow UV-C Lamp Work?
The innovative solutions make it possible to apply air-flow devices with a UV-C lamp for continuous air disinfection. The device is designed to eliminate the need to leave the room while it is being disinfected.
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The air contaminated with pathogens is sucked through special holes and gets inside the disinfection chamber. Inside the air is treated with high-energy UV-C radiation that instantly eliminates any bacteria and viruses. The disinfected air is pushed outside the device through upper ventilating openings. The circulation of air is forced by a low-noise fan.
The lamp emitting UV-C radiation is covered with a special reflector that prevents the light from escaping outside. This makes the device completely safe for the skin and eyes.
Types of Air-flow UV-C Devices
The air-flow UV-C devices come in various sizes and are equipped with lamps and fans of different efficiency rates.
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Smaller portable models can be used as your personal ‘antivirus shield’ and be taken with you wherever you go. Bigger freestanding devices purify the air from pathogens not only around you but also in bigger spaces, such as offices, classrooms or courtrooms.
Where to Use UV-C Lamps?
The leading American epidemiologist, Dr Russell Olmsted, recommends using UV-C radiation devices, including the air-flow lamps. This solution is widely used in the United States, e.g. in waiting rooms and public institutions. In Europe, together with the growing awareness of such
products, UV-C devices are getting more popular and can be found at clinics, hairdressers, beauty salons, restaurants and hotel rooms.
There are no limitations on how long you can stay close to the lamp and how far you must be from the operating device. This is why such lamps can be found useful in places occupied with people.
The air-flow sterilizers can work continuously, they are silent, take very little power and they reduce the risk of infection at service points, workplaces, homes and vehicles.
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According to the recommendations and directives issued by the Ministry of Health, the Chief Sanitary Inspectorate and the Polish Association of Medical Sterilization, every medical and service facility in Poland must guarantee safety for each patient and customer by, among others,
application of the available sterilizing devices. The air-flow UV-C lamps can become one of the most relevant, most effective and most desirable methods to provide such safety.
European funding for UV-C sterilizers
The need to equip service points with air-purifying devices has been noted by the government authorities. To improve the operation of businesses and their return to the pre-pandemic operation level, the marshal offices are starting programs funding the purchase of such devices.
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