Although the end of the COVID-19 pandemic seems to be drawing nearer, many families are fighting germs more diligently than ever. Even after the pandemic concludes, we’re all certain to see household cleaning and disinfecting a little differently – which, for some, includes incorporating gadgets like UV lights into their regular cleaning regimen. But how effective are UV lights for disinfecting? Read on to find out what trusted health experts say about UV lights and disinfecting.
How Effective Are UV Lights for Disinfecting?
What Is UV Light?
You’re probably familiar with UV light in terms of UVA or UVB rays, the sun’s rays that cause sunburns. But there are several other types of UV light, and one type in particular may help disinfect your home. At its core, UV light is a type of electromagnetic radiation that’s transmitted in waves, or particles. While the most common type of UV radiation comes from the sun, artificial UV lights also transmit these rays in different quantities.
Do UV Lights Kill Germs?
UV lights have been shown to kill germs, including several coronaviruses like the one that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). In fact, one study found that at least 15 minutes of UV exposure inactivated SARS, making it impossible for the virus to replicate. With that in mind, some larger health authorities are using UV light to sanitize public surfaces. For example, New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority announced the use of UV light on subway cars and buses, as well as in offices. However, there is a difference between small-scale UV light in controlled environments – individual surfaces, for example – and large-scale UV light used to treat large areas like offices or shopping malls. While UV light has been found to be extremely effective in controlled environments, that may not be the case with large areas. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports that any surface not exposed to the correct UV light for at least 15 minutes – a doorknob, for example – is basically untreated.
Limitations of UV Lights for Disinfecting
While the early data about UV lights and germs is promising, UV lights do have limits when it comes to disinfecting. First, scientists remain unclear on whether or not UV light is effective at inactivating all viruses. There are also limitations based on the dose and duration of UV light. For example, many of the UV lamps sold for home use emit fairly low doses of UV rays. That means that the lights may need to shine on a given surface for an extended period of time to effectively sanitize the surface – which may not be realistic, as most homeowners don’t leave lights on for days at a time. Specific UV lamps also emit different light types (UV A, B, or C), as well as different exposure levels and intensity levels. All of these factors can effect the efficacy of UV lights when it comes to killing germs
Safety Risks of UV Lights for Disinfecting
In addition to the incomplete inactivation of virus, UV may pose potential health and safety risks. While companies may advertise “completely safe” UV lights, the bulbs may be produced in countries with minimal regulation or safety oversight if they don’t carry a government agency seal of approval. Additionally, the risks of UV lights may increase if the unit is installed improperly:
- Looking directly at a UV light source, even briefly, can damage your eyes.
- Touching a UV light can cause burn-like skin reactions.
- Some UV lamps generate ozone, which can irritate airways.
- UV light can degrade certain materials including dyed textiles and photographs.
If you do decide to use a UV light in your home or business, make sure everyone in the area is aware of best practices to stay safe around the device.
So, how effective are UV lights for disinfecting? While initial evidence seems promising, especially in terms of the coronavirus, you shouldn’t rely on a UV light for all of your household disinfecting. A UV light can help; however, make sure to continue your household disinfecting regimen with EPA-approved germ fighting essentials like our SafeSpace Disinfecting and Deodorizing Misting System. It kills 99.9 percent of household germs, and one 16.5-ounce can treats approximately 1,200 square feet, which is about the size of an average home. The D&D Misting System offers a simple, quick, and foolproof way to make sure germs don’t stick around. It’s the perfect way to finish your cleaning routine.
The SafeSpace Company is a family-owned small business proudly selling American-made products to keep your family safe and healthy. To avoid germs during the COVID-19 pandemic, stock up on disinfectant essentials with the SafeSpace Germ Fighter Kit. You’ll get everything you need to keep yourself and your family healthy. For more information about SafeSpace, visit our website or contact us online.
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