UV-C Sanitation Explained
One of the more innovative technology applications to be made widely available is the use of special light waves to sanitize and disinfect entire areas within just a few minutes. What used to take an entire crew of people and gallons of hazardous chemicals, can be done in minutes by one machine. But even though this technology has been commercially available for over a decade, it is not widely understood.
UV-C light is one of three main ultraviolet frequencies of light generated naturally by the sun. Typically blocked by the Earth’s Ozone layer, UV-C light is known to kill 99.99% of germs, pathogens, and fungi via direct exposure.
What is UV light?
Ultraviolet (UV) light is a form of light, invisible to the human eye, that exists on the electromagnetic spectrum between X-rays and visible light. It is classified in three wavelength ranges.
- UV-C: 100 – 280 nanometers
- UV-B: 280 – 315 nanometers
- UV-A: 315 – 400 nanometers
What is the science behind UV-C disinfection?
UV-C wavelengths that are between 200 and 300 nanometers are the most effective as a germicidal agent. Within this range, the UV light is capable of inactivating a broad range of infectious microorganisms, such as germs, viruses, and bacteria.
Because UV-C sanitation is harnessing a naturally occurring process, this makes it an effective, environmentally friendly, and chemical-free means of preventing microbiomes, viruses and diseases from spreading through air and surface contact.
How does UV-C destroy germs and viruses?
The high energy from short wavelength UV-C light is absorbed in the cellular RNA and DNA., As the light is absorbed by the organism, it damages and breaks up the nucleic acids of a microorganism, preventing that microorganisms from infecting and reproducing.
This absorption of UV-C energy forms new bonds between nucleotides, creating double bonds or “dimers.” Dimerization of molecules, particularly thymine, is the most common type of damage incurred by UV-C light in microorganisms. The formation of thymine dimers in the DNA of bacteria and viruses prevents replication and the ability to infect.
Cells that cannot replicate, cannot infect.
With the UV-C sanitizing method, enough UV-C light is applied to prevent the microbiomes from replicating. When they do not replicate, they do not infect.
Ensuring completed effectiveness
With common chemical sanitizers, viruses have evolved to repair and reverse the damage. However, with the UV-C sanitizing method, the damage is done at a cellular level, providing an effective strategy for complete kill.