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Using UVC lamps to kill SARS-CoV-2 supporting the successful, sustainable re-opening of businesses

Updated: Sep 27, 2021

This article will explain the different types of UV light, and highlight the disinfection capabilities they can deliver. There are products available that have been specifically designed for businesses, to support their successful, sustainable re-opening as we try and regain normality following the disruption caused by the ongoing pandemic. Ensuring clean, bacteria-free indoor air has become a mandatory requirement as opposed to a “nice to have”.

There are three different types of UV, and we can be exposed to them via natural sunlight, or man-made technology. Each variation has different strengths and uses, that are often misunderstood by the public.

For years, UV technology has been used as a medical resource to combat germs, bacteria, and viruses. The effectiveness of its ability to destroy SARS-CoV-2 is regularly debated, and there are divided opinions regarding effectiveness v’s safety. This is predominantly due to a lack of knowledge surrounding Ultraviolet forms, strengths, and the manner in which they can be utilized.

Thailand has recently using UVC lamps in hospitals to prevent the spread of viruses and has recommended that businesses consider using similar technology to contain any localized outbreaks.

What are the three types of UV light?

1) UVA light - This comes directly from the sun and is the reason why we wear "UV protection sun cream” when on holiday, or exposed to sunlight for extended periods of time. It has the lowest amount of energy of the three variations and is commonly linked to skin aging.

2) UVB light - Sitting in the middle of the UV spectrum, this is the type of light that can cause bad sunburn or skin cancer. A small portion of sunlight contains UVB and it is recommended to cover up when outside in temperatures high enough to produce it.

3) UVC light - As humans, we are rarely exposed to the most powerful UV light naturally. UVC light from the sun is absorbed by the Earth's ozone which is a natural protection mechanism. However, although it can be dangerous to humans, it has many powerful disinfection uses which have triggered the evolution of man-made products to utilize UVC for sanitization purposes, and technological progression has allowed UVC solutions to be tailored for different commercial environments.

Let's talk about UVC light in more detail.

UVC has been scientifically proven to kill germs and can be used to disinfect liquids, surfaces, and the air around us. UVC light destroys viruses and bacteria by damaging the molecules they need in order to survive.

What do we know about UVC light and COVID19?

The American Journal of Infection control experimented using UVC light to kill coronavirus in a variety of liquid environments. They discovered the virus was completely inactivated after 9 minutes of full exposure.

They also conducted a similar study, this time using specific “far-UVC” to kill SARS-CoV-2 on laboratory surfaces. The test results confirmed that UVC light reduces live coronavirus by 99.6% in just 30 seconds. The strength of this "far UVC light" sits between wavelengths of 207 and 222 nanometers. This range of power is proven to destroy germs and is less harmful to skin and eyes than other stronger types of UVC light.

Using UVC light for air disinfection?

A Study that was released in the journal “scientific reports” tested far-UVC on two different strains of airborne human coronaviruses. They tested 229E and OC43 which can both infect humans with the common cold.

The results concluded that 99.9% of air contaminated with coronaviruses was killed within 25 minutes. They believe the level of UVC would have the same impact on SARS-CoV-2 due to the similar genetic profile.

But we need to kill viruses faster in some environments.

Stronger UVC light will eliminate germs quicker. Higher levels of UVC can be harmful to humans if overly exposed, so technology has evolved, and levels of power have been adapted to kill germs in as little as 0.8 seconds. At Clean Air Thailand we have designed UVC disinfection systems that emit 254 nm of UVC, that can be installed in areas that humans may come into contact with, but not be directly exposed to the light.

How to provide a safe working environment that actively combats COVID19

Every building is different, and viruses can be transmitted via various pathways. With home working in Thailand drawing to an end, we all have the same objective. To keep businesses open, whilst minimalizing the chance of another outbreak.

Everyone has a personal responsibility to take the necessary precautions, but owners of office buildings and businesses can be more proactive in preventing further clusters, which may result in a sick workforce.

A survey and complete disinfection of the workplace, with a combination of UVC, Ozone, and chemicals, can eradicate any existing contamination, then using the correct equipment from then on can create a safe, stable working environment, that tackles germs in real-time. There are many options available, and our consultants are happy to assist you in creating the right solution.

We have worked with many large corporations over the years and manufactured products that disinfect and sanitize their buildings, whilst promoting long-term cost savings. It is great to be able to give employees and customers peace of mind, knowing they are in a sterile environment.

Some examples of products we have in service are.

Elevator disinfection units

These have been specifically designed to automatically trigger UVC when the lift has been un-occupied for 45 seconds, then fully disinfect the entire lift in 0.8 seconds. It then switches itself off, so lift users are never exposed to the light. COVID-19 can remain in the air for 3 hours, so this is a great example of how to safely use UVC to ensure Clean Air in Elevators, which essentially transport hundreds of people daily to several floors of big buildings, providing the perfect breeding ground for a virus to thrive. You can find further details here.

Escalator Handrail Disinfection System

Like elevators, escalators transport large numbers of people constantly, who will each touch the same handrail. SARS-CoV-2 can survive on a rubber surface for 3 days, so Clean Air Thailand’s designed a UVC disinfection system that is out of sight so doesn't harm humans. It kills 99.9% of viruses on each cycle of the handrail. This ensures that’s no more than one person can touch the same part of the rail without it being disinfected first. The specifications for this can be found here.

UV-C AntiVirus HVAC system

This technology sits inside the ducting of ventilation systems by the fan coil unit, killing viruses that would otherwise be rotating around the indoor air of a room. This also stops the spread of germs in big buildings like hotels that may have interlinking ducts. This is a permanent solution that also combats dampness and mold, which is particularly relevant in Thailand's tropical climate. Further details can be found here.

There are often questions asked about UVC technology, as understandably people need to ensure they have the right product for their circumstances. Clean Air Thailand is happy to advise businesses of any size, on potential sanitization solutions for them, and can design tailored products. We thrive on innovation and strive to keep our client's air clean.

We have prepared a list of UVC FAQ here also.

One of the downsides of UVC lighting is it can’t always access every area of a room. Luckily Ozone has the ability to get into the more difficult areas, and chemicals also have advantages in certain environments. To ensure a fully sterile environment, our consultants will survey your building, test your air, and suggest a solution that may include a combination of the above.

Get in touch with us for a free consultation here.

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