What is UV-C Light and How Does it Work?

November 10, 2020

As healthcare facilities, schools, and businesses across the country work to implement solutions that can provide safer, cleaner environments for their staff, visitors, and patients, UV-C light is a term that continues to gain traction. If you’re new to UV-C light or are considering implementing the technology in your building or facility, this article is here to explain exactly what UV-C light technology is, how it works, how it’s applied, and how effective you can expect it to be for your facility.

What is UV-C Light Technology?

UVC light technology is a radiation method that makes use of a specific wavelength of ultraviolet light to neutralize microorganisms. UV-C light is germicidal, which means it deactivates the DNA of microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens, disrupting their ability to multiply and cause disease.

UV-C light technology is defined by a range of terms, including germicidal irradiation, UVGI, and UV-C radiation. All of these terms refer to the same, ultraviolet-c light that reduces the spread of pathogens.

What Does UV-C or UVGI Mean?

If you are looking into UV-C lights, lamps, and air treatment methods, it’s good to understand what the abbreviations UV-C and UVGI stand for.

UV-C refers to a specific ultraviolet wavelength. There are three categories of ultraviolet light wavelengths, UVA, UVB, and UVC. UV-C wavelengths are between 200 and 300 nanometers and are proven to be harmful to microorganisms.

UVGI stands for ultraviolet germicidal irradiation. It is often used interchangeably with UV-C technology or UV-C light and refers to the same technology of utilizing UV-C wavelengths to neutralize pathogens.

With a better understanding of the terminology behind this technology, let’s take a closer look at how UV-C light works as a pathogen control method.

How Does UV-C Light Technology Work?

As we mentioned earlier, UV-C utilizes short-wavelength ultraviolet radiation — wavelengths of 200-300 nanometers. This short wavelength carries the amount of energy necessary to inactivate microorganisms. When UV-C light is applied, the following occurs:

High energy from a UV-C wavelength is absorbed into the RNA and DNA of the cell.
This energy absorption damages nucleic acid, disrupting the microorganism’s DNA.
When DNA is disrupted, the microorganism is neutralized
The microorganism cannot perform any vital cellular functions, which means it cannot reproduce.
For you, this means the microorganism cannot contribute to further disease spread or infection.

How is UV-C Light Applied?

UV-C light technology is most commonly seen in the form of a light or a lamp and is often used to neutralize airborne pathogens, as well as those sitting on commonly used surfaces like computer keyboards, phones, and workstations. The two most common applications of UV-C treatment include:

UV-C Surface Treatment

Surfaces like keyboards or workstations are often used by several people before they can be cleaned or wiped down. UV-C surface treatment platforms, like the UV Angel Adapt, are installed over the surface, where they can automatically detect when surfaces have been used, and treat them without user assistance.

UV-C Air Treatment

The control of airborne pathogens has never been more important. UV-C light is also used to treat and neutralize bacteria, viruses, and pathogens in the air. While HVAC air treatment systems are common, more effective continuous active room air treatment systems exist to actively draw in and neutralize airborne pathogens.

With a clear understanding of how UV-C technology works, and how it is applied to treat certain environments, you may be wondering — is it actually effective?

Is UV-C Light An Effective Method of Pathogen Control?

Yes! UV-C has a long-studied history of treating and controlling pathogens.

UV-C light treatment is an effective, chemical-free method of infection prevention. It’s shown to reduce the levels of bacteria and funguses in the air, and in some studies has been shown to reduce the number of overall infections in hospitals. UV-C light treatment has been used for decades to reduce the spread of bacteria.

While any environment — hospital, dental, educational, and beyond — must employ a range of disinfection and environmental treatment methods, UV-C light treatment is an especially effective technology for actively creating a cleaner environment in any setting, medical or commercial. Here are just a few of the benefits that UV-C technology can provide:

UV-C light is a proven, decades-old treatment technology

UV-C light treatment is a proven pathogen treatment technology that was discovered decades ago and has been consistently used ever since. Recently, peer reviews by the Canadian Journal of Infection Control and the American Journal of Infection Control have shown that UVGI has lessened contact infections in long-term acute care facilities, again proving the effectiveness of the technology.

UVGI is commonly used to neutralize pathogens in dental and hospital environments, and its benefits extend to the commercial sector as well, especially as restaurants, schools, and businesses look for ways to provide a cleaner, safer environment for all. The technology has been tested, peer-reviewed, and confirmed as a proven method to neutralize and reduce pathogens in any environment.

UV-C light treatment is a no-touch, automated, active treatment method

When employed properly, UV-C light is a hands-free, active environment treatment method. Shielded, ceiling-mounted UV-C light treatment systems actively draw in pathogens using a system of fans, to ensure that pathogens circulating throughout the environment are effectively neutralized.

What’s more, shielded ceiling-mounted UV-C treatment methods are no-touch. Because they are shielded, they can operate 24/7, even when the environment is occupied, providing active pathogen control at all times, without any activation by your employees or staff.

As a continuous treatment method that cannot be affected by human error, UV-C light provides a greater level of protection than many other methods.

If you are looking into UV-C light to provide a cleaner, safer environment for your facility, UV Angel is here to help. Our UV Angel Air and Adapt series are well-suited to a range of applications, from dental offices to hospitals, commercial buildings, schools, restaurants, and more. For more information about our products, or to learn more about the technology behind UV-C light, get in touch with our team today.

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