UV light has been known to reduce the spread of bacteria for decades, and its applications have grown exponentially in recent years, used in everything from water bottles to airplanes. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of UV light has become more widespread, both in practical, everyday uses and in critical, life-saving technology, stopping the spread of bacteria and pathogens.
Looking to learn more about sterilization technology? Here's a quick guide on what UV sanitization technology is and its many uses.
How Does UV Sanitization Technology Work?
UV light is a type of electromagnetic radiation that is naturally present in the sun. It is able to disinfect air, water, and nonporous surfaces. UV sanitization technology can render bacteria and pathogens inactive by destroying their DNA. When their DNA is destroyed, they can no longer:
- Repair damaged DNA
- Cause infections and disease
Surfaces need to be directly exposed to UV light to sufficiently disinfect them. If soil, dust, fluids, or anything else is in the way, the UV light will not be as effective.
Applications of UV Sanitation
The safest and most common application of UV light is within air ducts to disinfect the air of a building. This application of UV light sanitizer prevents direct UV exposure on people's skin or eyes, which can cause injury.
UV sanitization technology has grown in some innovative ways over the years. However, UV light sanitizers are not meant to replace traditional cleaning practices. Instead, they are meant to be a complementary sanitization technology that enhances the disinfection on surfaces that are already clean and disinfected.
UV Lights for Home Use
There are a number of readily available products that make life at home a little more comfortable (and cleaner). From travel sanitizers for cell phones and accessories to air purifying systems, there are even self-cleaning water bottles that utilize UV-C light to neutralize harmful bacteria and pathogens.
The UV lights used in these applications typically have low doses. While they can disinfect surfaces, the sanitization process requires a longer exposure period to effectively render bacteria and viruses inactive.
UV Lights in the Medical Industry
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the application of UV light technology was lifesaving as it allowed for the continued use of clean, disinfected N95 masks during a national shortage. Now, UV lighting can be placed in vacant patient rooms to disinfect the area. This is often done after the patient's discharge or transfer.
This process takes approximately 15 to 20 minutes by a Pulsed Xenex UV light, and often upward of 45 minutes by a mercury UV-C device. During this time, the room must be vacant and the door closed.
The device should have a built-in sensor that will stop the sanitization process if the door opens or if it detects movement. Some manufacturers may offer a protective curtain, so partial sanitization can occur between patient beds in shared rooms.
UV Lights for Aerospace Use
UV sanitation is one of many innovative technologies being applied to airplanes.
The GermFalcon is an award-winning machine that uses UV light to disinfect the interior of an airplane between flights. A person protected by UV shielding pushes the machine up and down the aisle to enhance the disinfection of the airplane's interior.
Dimer's GermFalcon uses intense UV waves and may be able to sanitize a full narrow-body plane in about three minutes.
UV Lights for Industrial
Keeping water and air clean is especially important in today's day and age and UV technology has gone miles in purifying the places that can be hardest to reach.
From HVAC UV light installation that eliminates mildew and molds in homes, schools, and offices, to advanced facilities that purify water in entire regions, these revolutionary innovations have become fixtures in everyday life around the world. The Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center (SCAWPC), for example, is a $72 million facility that uses a combination of microfiltration, reverse osmosis, and UV lights for high-quality purification.
UV Sanitation Against COVID-19
UV-C lights, otherwise known as "germicidal" lights, are the shortest wavelength of UV light. The radiation of UV-C light is known to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, including the SARS-Coronavirus. The SARS-Coronavirus is a predecessor to COVID-19, being first reported in Asia in 2003.
UV-C lights destroy the outer protein coating of the SARS-Coronavirus, rendering it inactive. This has led to the hope that UV sanitization technology will also be an effective defense against COVID-19.
There is only limited data about the effectiveness of UV-C light against COVID-19, so it is unknown how well the sanitization process will work against the virus.
How is UV Sanitization Technology Made?
The production of UV sanitization technology is regulated to make sure:
- UV lights are as safe as possible
- Users know the basic radiation risks
- How to safely operate
- UV light and practice radiation safety
- Regulators can collect, spread, and take action on information
All components of the UV light must be properly installed, connected, and functioning to ensure the light will work, is safe, and has enough power to disinfect.
The PCBs (printed circuit boards) of UV lights control the electrical pulses that light up the bulb.
The ballast and starter are both located on the PCB and transmit electrical signals through connectors and connector pins that are seated inside the UV bulb to light up the gas inside.
If the ballast is magnetic, it will also need a starter to create electricity. The starter sends a shot of high-voltage electricity to the gas inside the bulb. This shot of electricity has a delay to let the gas become ionized and conductive.
Safety Considerations for UV Lights
The germicidal capabilities of UV-C lights allow people to enhance the disinfection of surfaces, air, and even water bottles. Be sure to take the proper precautions when using UV lights. Avoid directly exposing your skin to UV lights, and never look directly into one.
Depending on the UV light's wavelength, dose, and duration, there may be health and safety risks caused by radiation exposure. If a UV light is not installed properly or used by an untrained individual, these health and safety risks are more likely:
- Burn-like injuries to the eyes and skin from direct radiation exposure
- Irritation to the airway from ozone inhalation
- Mercury poisoning
If you do purchase a UV light, never look directly into a UV light source for any amount of time. Even a brief amount of time can cause eye injury.
UV lights can also degrade certain materials. This includes plastic, polymers, and dyed textiles.
Customizing UV Components
Unique solutions will drive unique designs. Sometimes, a standard light fixture won't be an ideal fit for the final manufacture, and in those cases, being able to find partners to help identify the best pin and base and even actual lights are critical to a successful supply chain.
About Bead Electronics
Bead Electronics, is a global manufacturer of electronic connector pins and has been manufacturing in Connecticut for over 100 years. The award-winning company carries over 500 patents and is best known for inventing its manufacturing process called swaging. This process is a high-speed, virtually scrap-less, cold-forming process capable of producing a wide size range of metal electronic components that are consistent and cost-effective. The family-owned business is led by its fifth generation.