Germicidal UV Data Yields Promising Results

Clinical Researcher Investigates 254 Nanometer Germicidal Ultraviolet Light Effects
Clinical Researcher Investigates 254 Nanometer Germicidal Ultraviolet Light Effects

The recent vigilance uptick regarding the spread of harmful pathogens has prompted lighting designers and manufacturers to embark on a fact-finding mission. Can we safely deploy lighting and ultraviolet (UV) energy to combat germs, bacteria, and viruses? How much germicidal UV energy is required? Recall from grade school science class, UV energy has a wavelength from 400 to 40 nanometers (nm), and it exists just past ROY G. BIV on the electromagnetic spectrum. Visible light ranges from 740 to 380 nm. Although both UV and visible light can be used for disinfection, short-wavelength UVC is the undisputed champion in the fight against germs, bacteria, and viruses.

Germicidal Ultraviolet has a Long History of Success

Ultraviolet energy ranging from 280-200 nm is called UVC. Hospitals have been using UVC germicidal lamps for 90 years to combat drug-resistant superbugs, viruses, and bacteria. It was particularly useful against a tuberculosis outbreak spike in the 1980s. With the increased adoption of vaccines and antibiotics in the latter half of the 20th century, the need for UVC solutions ebbed slightly. It is possible that increases in drug resistance and novel viruses will once again give UVC the opportunity to be the hero.

However, the effectiveness of UVC is also its greatest obstacle for widespread implementation. UVC will cause damage to human skin and flash burns in eyes if directly exposed. Maintenance crews must be given training and personal protective equipment to safely change lamps when needed or operate mobile UVC units. When the power of UVC is harnessed by safety precaution adherence, it is a proven weapon in the fight against photosensitive pathogens.

Germicidal UV lamps, measuring specifically at 254 nm, are the documented frontrunner in virus inactivation. It is even showing promise against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, based on recent validation by Boston University. Further studies are inevitably in process and the design team at Lumenal Lighting eagerly awaits successful results.

UV lighting should be looked at as one of several steps we can take to improve the safety of the environment in which we work and live. It must be employed carefully, but properly done; it can be very effective.

Don Nielsen, Chairman, Lumenal Lighting

Germicidal UV Lighting Form Factor Variety Allows for Widespread Implementation

Germicidal 254 nm UV lamp technology is available in multiple fixture types including troffers, linear strips, and high bays. Sensors would prompt the UVC to safely energize when the space is not in use and turn off when movement is detected. These fixtures would be installed in addition to the existing fixtures used for illumination.

Mobile and handheld UVC solutions may prove a cost-effective alternative for businesses and facilities. The mobile unit is wheeled into the focus space by a trained operator, donning full protective gear. The mobile unit is then energized via remote from a safe location. Once the appropriate dosage is distributed, the operator powers down the unit and relocates it to the next space. Large handheld units are also available and can be used by fully protected operators. This method may work well on athletic gear, personal protection equipment, tools, and other items. Additionally, either the mobile or handheld units could be used in airplanes, buses, and other mass transit, where permanent fixture installations are not feasible.

Upper-Room Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation (UVGI) Integrates UV with Air Flow

UVGI is a very specific procedure that pairs UVC energy installed near the ceiling with slow-moving air circulation. The slow-moving air may be provided by a ceiling fan a ducted ventilation system. This method addresses aerosolized pathogens and redistributes the treated air into the space. Special care must be taken to limit direct UVC exposure to room occupants and maintenance personnel. It is important to note that UVC solutions will not replace manual sanitizing procedures. The best method is the overlap of multiple efforts; think of a belt and suspenders approach. Reach out to Lumenal Lighting to explore your germicidal UV options, wear your mask, and wash your hands.