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Infection Control: UV Disinfection FAQs

Disinfection is a critical part of infection control. Dirty surfaces, contaminated air and even water that has not been properly disinfected can all present a risk to humans in and outside of the healthcare space.

UV is not new technology, but its applications in healthcare and beyond are expanding with the development of new devices featuring UV-FORCE® technology. Following are a few of the most commonly asked questions about the use of ultraviolet light in the disinfection process.

What is UV disinfection?

UV disinfection is the use of ultraviolet light to kill infectious bacteria, viruses, and fungi. While modern techniques have not always been in use, the effect of UV light on infectious microbes has been known and studied for more than 100 years.

How does UV disinfection work?

UV light operates at a shorter wavelength than all visible light. The UV wavelength can penetrate viruses, bacteria, and other infectious particles and cause physical destruction. The destruction of these particles renders them unable to infect and therefore disinfects the surface, liquid, or air where they were living.

How effective is UV disinfection?

UV disinfection is extremely effective. While different lamps perform differently, UV-FORCE® technology uses far-UVC disinfection to safely achieve 99.99% bacteria kill on surfaces in less than 4 seconds, which is 10x to 1000x better than existing treatments.

Because UV light causes the physical destruction of cells, it is as effective against antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria known as “super germs” or “superbugs.”

What’s the difference between far-UV and near UV?

Far-UV and near UV can both be used for disinfection purposes, but they are different in their capabilities. Read our blog Far-UV vs. Near UV for a more in-depth look at this issue.

Is UV disinfection safe?

Ultraviolet light has been used for disinfection purposes for many years, so we know that with proper precautions in place, UV is safe to use for disinfection. As long as those operating the disinfection devices are trained in the use of UV light and are themselves protected, the process is safe. It is also a good idea to take precautions to keep personnel who are not protected out of rooms that are being disinfected with near UV light. Far-UVC light, however, is safe and can be used with humans present. 

Where can UV disinfection be used?

UV disinfection can be used for hard surfaces, liquids, and even air streams. In fact, UV light is one of the most popular non-chemical ways to disinfect water sources safely because it does not leave behind any chemical elements in the water. Because of its versatility, disinfection with UV light is used in hospital, agricultural, pharmaceutical, and many other settings. Download our guide to learn more about the use of far-UVC light, an effective and safe band within the UV spectrum.

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