How Effective Are Gadgets with UV Light at Disinfection?
Let us begin on a positive note: There are studies conducted pretty recently confirming that Covid-19, together with other variants of coronavirus, can be inactivated by UV light rays.
Indeed, it is not a secret to many people that UV light is effective at killing many different microbes. It has been used as an effective germicidal treatment since scientists found out that shorter wavelengths of UV light rays produced by the sun – what is now called UVC or ultraviolet-C light – are capable of inactivating bacterias and viruses. Not like the longer variations of sun wavelengths, UVA and UVB, UVC rays don’t reach the surface of the Earth naturally. Making them especially lethal to pathogens that had not had the opportunity to adapt to them.
UV light in a modern setting
UV technology is steadily making its mark into the consumer culture, the recent happenings with the pandemic and all only boosting its already good rep to both professionals and civilians alike. There have been more kinds of portable gadgets equipped with UV functionality on the market lately, ranging from expensive to affordable, large to small, for personal or commercial use. Surely, there is a ‘UV gadget’ suitable for anything that an average person can think of disinfecting.
But here comes the bad news
Albeit there has already been evidence showing that UVC light is capable of inactivating Covid-19, there hasn’t been any data on whether a lamp will. The study that proves UVC can kill Covid-19 was conducted in a controlled setting, using precise dosage for a recorded amount of time. This means it’s not the same as the everyday environment in which these gadgets are more likely to be used.
Manufacturers will lure you in with enticing words like “germicidal” or “disinfecting” to suggest the device’s ability to inactivate viruses. But they are more careful in naming which viruses exactly.
Should I buy a UV light gadget?
If you have the means to buy one, there really is no reason not to. At the very least, it will serve as an additional layer of protection and that already makes the price worth it. It has already been a staple in the disinfection industry for centuries before the coronavirus pandemic, so having one in your arsenal sounds like a win-win.
However, think twice on which one to get
Many people have been reasonably anxious about how to keep their belongings and their homes in general, free of any virus in the past year. So, it really is not that surprising that there has been a rapid increase in demand for UVC gadgets.
As of this point, we’ve already established the power of UV light gadgets as a weapon against bacteria and other microbes. However, this is only applicable under suitable conditions. Not to mention it also poses long-term damage to human eyes and skin if exposed for an extended period of time.
Things to know if you’re planning to get a UVC device
If you are planning to buy a UVC gadget, it is imperative to read and familiarize yourself with the device’s instructions and limitations. Conduct proper research on the product you’ve been eyeing on before getting it. Here’s a short list of things to keep an eye out for if planning to get a UVC gadget:
Dosage and length of each operation
Knowing the right dosage for UV gadgets depends on two major elements: time and intensity.
The higher the intensity, the less time you will need to kill microbes like bacterias and viruses. Devices with less intensity need more time to achieve the same level of sanitation. A more powerful UV unit may need you to speed up the disinfection process more compared to a low-power unit. This is just one of the many reasons why the medical industry has the tendency to go for a more powerful mobile unit – to save time.
You also have to factor in the distance you need to be from the UV device. Surfaces located further away from the UV gadget will not receive the level of sanitation compared to surfaces closer to it.
Possible risk to humans and animals
UVC is far more powerful than the other forms of UV rays. Therefore, it is crucial to be mindful of it. UVC can cause sunburn, and even though it is not deemed to be the primary cause, it can contribute to the development of skin cancer. Under any circumstance or purpose, never expose humans or any type of animal to UVC rays directly. If you must, be sure to don complete protective gear.
UVC can also cause damage to some materials. The most generic material that is more inclined to be damaged by UVC degradation is wood and plastic. Of course, different types of plastic will have various resistance levels depending on whether they are equipped with UV stabilizers. You may observe a slight discoloration and a noticeable weakening of plastic materials that have been directly exposed to UV. Wood materials may be noticeably more brittle.
It is advisable to choose a device considering the total dose when assessing UV risks.
What is the magic number?
The eyes are considered to be the most sensitive to UV rays. The cornea can withstand up to 280 nm at most. To be on the safe side, make sure the gadget you will be purchasing utilizes a new technology called far-UVC with a wavelength anywhere between 100-200nm. This type of UV light is just as effective at inactivating microbes as the traditional UVC light but is safe for humans to operate on a regular basis.
Does the government endorse the use of UV gadgets?
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released a FAQ document regarding UV gadgets for sanitation. They are also giving certificates to legitimate manufacturers to set them apart from the non-regulated ones.
Which type of UV sterilizer is easy to use in households?
There are tons of different types of UV gadgets out on the market right now with different functionalities and features. It all boils down to what you truly need to sanitize and how portable you need it to be. There are UV boxes that are rechargeable so you can bring them with you on your travels. There are UV wands that you can use to sanitize pretty much anything.
To give you a better idea, here’s a shortlist and a few recommendations from us:
UV light sanitizing wand
To use, you simply wave the UV wand some inches over any surfaces you want to sanitize. With the power of UVC, this gadget inactivates pathogens without the need for harsh cleaners or chemicals. You can use it for anything, from disinfecting a keyboard to your toddler’s plush toys to couches. It is handy since it is lightweight and folds conveniently. It is a great device to have at home, but you can use it in the office or in the car as well.
UV light sanitizing box/bag
There are a lot of options for UV light gadgets. You can choose something small to sanitize your personal items like keys, grooming tools, or money. There are medium boxes that can sanitize items that are a little bigger like KF95 masks, smartphones, or eyeglasses. Then there are bigger ones that you can use to sanitize multiple of your children’s toys in one go.
There are many UV sanitizers that offer another functionality. But one of the most useful features perhaps is wet cleaning. These devices offer two distinct ways of cleaning your belongings. It has a dry sterilizing option which works like any other UV sanitizing box, you just need to put your items inside, press start, and wait until the process is over. But it also has a wet cleaning option that uses ultrasound to agitate a fluid. The ultrasonic function can be used with just water, but the use of a solvent appropriate for the object to be cleaned and the type of soiling present enhances the effect.
UV lid sanitizers
These sanitizers are your cups, mugs, bottles, and drinking glasses. UV does not only sanitize surfaces but air and water as well. if you want to make sure that the drink you’re about to have is safe and free of any microbes, cover your glass with this lid and let it run for three minutes.
Before purchasing any products, it is important to do research, especially on the latest gadgets which have intricate features that you may not be familiar with. It is important to learn the risks, make a list of the pros, cons, and weigh the purchase. After this research, a decision can be made on what to buy. Ensure the legitimacy of the manufacturer where you will buy your products from to ensure that it will do more good than harm. After all, you can never be too safe.