Wouldn’t it be cool to have a laser-ray that could kill the coronavirus by just zapping at surfaces?
What if we told you that our ultraviolet light sanitizers look and work a lot like that?
These devices are making quite a buzz these days, and odds are you’ve probably heard of them already. Manufacturers are claiming that these can be used for disinfection, killing the SARS-CoV-2 effectively. But do UV sanitizers work as claimed?
Let’s explore further.
What is Ultraviolet Light?
Ultraviolet (UV light) is a part of the electromagnetic spectrum with a wavelength of 100-400nm. It falls right in between visible light and X-rays. UV light is broadly categorized into three categories- UVA, UVB, and UVC light. Of these, two types of UV radiation reach us naturally through sunlight. And 10% of all light is UV light.
UVA has the largest wavelength out of the three and is found abundantly in sunlight. It is responsible for skin aging, tanning, and wrinkles. UVB has a smaller wavelength and can prove more dangerous for humans, causing sunburns and skin cancer. Fortunately, it is scarce in sunlight – 95% of all UV light reaches us is UVA, while the other 5% is UVB.
The third category, which is instrumental in killing bacteria and microbes, is UVC light. It has a wavelength range of 200-280nm. No measurable UVC radiation reaches us from the Sun because the ozone absorbs it in the Earth’s atmosphere. Interestingly, UV sanitizers and disinfection devices only use UVC light to kill bacteria and viruses.
You must be wondering- how do UV sanitizers work when UVC light does not even reach us from the Sun? All UV light sanitizers use artificial UV light to kill bacteria.
How Do UV Sanitizers Kill The Coronavirus?
For decades, UV light was used in hospitals to disinfect surfaces. Often UV is called germicidal UV when used for this purpose. As the name suggests, it kills germs by destroying the strands of DNA inside bacteria and viruses.
But here is where it’s a double-edged sword – UV light kills ALL DNA and living cells, including human, which is why it must be used carefully.
UVC light destroys the outer coating of the coronavirus, effectively rendering it inactive. It has been used in the past against similar strains of viruses, such as MERS and SARS. Evidence suggests that ultraviolet radiation may be effective at inactivating the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus as well.
But do UV sanitizers work efficiently? That depends on the dose and duration of the UV light they disseminate and the level of exposure. UVC light can only work if it is directly exposed to the virus.
Secondly, the dose and duration of the disinfection device also play a role in inactivating the viruses. Most UVC lamps and light wands simply do not have the required dosage needed to kill any viruses or bacteria effectively.
How Effectively Do UV Sanitizers Work and Where Are They Used?
UV sanitizers, light wands, and lamps certainly do sound alluring. They claim to kill 99.9% germs, viruses and bacteria. But isn’t that simply too good to be true?
Unfortunately, most UV products out in the market are fakes, or they are too weak to sanitize every surface thoroughly.
Try to get your hands on an industrial-strength UV light, the kind that’s used in hospitals to disinfect.
Home UV devices pale compared to hospital-grade UV sanitizing machines when it comes to efficacy. They’re simply not designed to deliver that impact. If you’re buying a product off the internet and expecting it to have the sanitizing powers of clinically tested UV units, you’re up for disappointment.
Whole room UV sanitization was introduced in US hospitals in 2007. It’s proven to be a popular disinfection method because complete rooms can be sterilized in one go with minimal labor.
UV disinfection devices are also used in air ducts to sanitize the air. It is a safe option because this keeps humans safe from exposure to the UV source, and installing it in air ducts is unlikely to cause any direct harm to the skin and eyes.
It’s important to note that UV sanitizers are no alternative to necessary hygiene measures such as washing your hands and wearing a mask. The efficacy of UV sanitizers is only as good as the last time they were used. Using these devices does not mean you can forego preventive measures such as social distancing.
Are UV Sanitizers Suitable For Home Use And How To Use Them Safely?
There is no one size fits all solution for UV disinfection devices. While a self- disinfecting phone cases and water bottles can work perfectly well, you will be up for disappointment if you expect a UV sanitizer to disinfect your whole house.
For instance, if you have a UV light wand, it might work well on individual surfaces but don’t expect it to disinfect a room. What also matters is the intensity of the UV light source. A light wand used from a distance of one foot will not have the effectiveness of a disinfecting wand used 3 inches from the surface.
While UV light can kill any microbes on top of surfaces, it can’t get into nooks and crannies. It works rather superficially.
So, it won't be as effective on a shag carpet as it would on a table. This extends to the microscopic scale. Even something as small as dust or tiny food particles can get in the way of UV light and prevent disinfection.
UV sanitizers are good fixes for disinfecting your tech. You don’t have the option of using soap and alcohol disinfectants for those items, or you’re going to end up with a faulty phone. It’s better to use self-cleaning UV light cases or UV light wands for your cellphone and laptops.
Are there any noticeable health risks?
Yes, there are certain risks involved with using UV sanitizers.
These devices are never meant to be used directly on humans or pets. UV sanitizers can be quite harmful to human skin. So if you were planning to use this device to disinfect your hands, drop the idea right away!
Avoid looking at UV lamps directly. Try to limit your exposure to these devices. It’s better to use them in an empty room, away from humans and pets. When you can’t avoid contact, try to maintain a distance. Try to sanitize surfaces overnight.
Do UV sanitizers work? Yes. But it is essential that you take the time to research a foolproof UV sanitizing device that can offer protection against coronavirus without any of the risks.And while you are at it, check out Puritize! It’s a complete home sanitation system that gives you all the advantages of powerful UV light cleaning. Visit the website to learn more and get 10% off by using the Puritize10 promo code.