UV Lights Facts - Francis Plumbing
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UV Lights Facts

UV LIGHTS – FACTS AND FICTION

Ultra Violet light, also referred to as UV light, isn’t new…

Sunlight naturally produces ultra violet light. This light travels in different wavelengths. From the top of the Earth’s atmosphere it is composed of about 50% infrared light, 40% visible light, and 10% ultraviolet light. Our atmosphere blocks about 77% of the Sun’s UV. Of the ultraviolet radiation that reaches the Earth’s surface, more than 95% of the longer wavelengths are UVA, the small remainder is UVB, almost no UVC (short wavelengths) reaches the Earth’s surface. This is a really good thing because UVC is the most damaging type of UV radiation.

In 1878 scientists discovered that they could harness UVC to kill microorganisms. Since that finding, artificially produced UVC lights (also called UVC lamps or germicidal lamps) has become a staple method of sterilization.  UVC lights have been used daily in hospitals, airplanes, offices, and factories globally for sterilization.  UVC light is also fundamental to the process of sanitising drinking water; some parasites are resistant to chemical disinfectants such as chlorine, so UVC has proven to be a failsafe solution.

Dan Arnold of UV Light Technology stated in a BBC article:

“UVC is really nasty stuff – you shouldn’t be exposed to it,” says Arnold. “It can take hours to get sunburn from UVB, but with UVC it takes seconds. If your eyes are exposed… you know that gritty feeling you get if you look at the sun? It’s like that times 10, just after a few seconds.”

 

Covid-19 and UV lights

COVID-19 and UVC lights

Here is what you need to know about UVC.

UVC light kills cells by damaging their DNA (skin cancer is just one example of cell damage by UVC light). Exposure to UVC radiation can cause sever burns (of the skin), damage to DNA and severe acute damage to the eyes (photokeratitis).

When it comes to viruses, this same ability to damage DNA warps the structure of their genetic material and prevents the viral particles from making more copies of themselves. If they can’t make copies of themselves they can’t spread and they die off.

In other words – UVC does work in sterilizing bacteria, viruses, allergens and mold.

 

Here is where information gets confusing or misleading…

 

UV wand
UV wand

Wands – magic or illusion?

Since the outbreak of Covid-19 there has been a huge wave of products to hit the market called “UV wands” or “UVC wands” that are making unfounded claims about how well they work at killing viruses.

It is true that actual UVC lights does disinfect surfaces but what is being sold on the market isn’t the same thing.

In order to avoid legal battles, the manufacturers of these hand-held wands are making them so weak that they are barely more than purple light bulbs.  Let’s face it – if they actually produced enough UVC waves to sanitize surfaces it would put people and pets at risk of long-term health risks and blindness.

WARNING: There may be a few real “UVC wands” on the market that are modified UVC lights.  As you know now, actual UVC lights are harmful to all living matter (including humans & pets) and should never be used where there is the possibility of exposure.

The public is being warned NOT to use these devices and to report anyone selling them.

See Recalls and safety alerts from the Government of Canada for more details (I included a few different links for you at the bottom of this page).

 

Are there any UVC lights that are safe to use?

Absolutely! UVC lights can be safely used (and are highly recommended) for the following:

  • Inside water purification systems (professionally installed)
  • Inside duct work as part of indoor air sanitizing system (professionally installed)

Please note that each of these has to be professional installed to make sure they are properly installed to manufacturer specifications.  This includes procedures for sealing the UV light to prevent light from escaping and harming the people and pets in a home.

 

UV-lights and home HVAC systems:

GREAT NEWS!  Good quality UVC lights installed professionally inside duct work have been proven to reduce the spread of air born viruses and are not just limited to Covid-19. UVC lights also kill other viruses like the common cold again reducing the spread of air born viruses.  There are other health benefits to getting a UVC light installed on your air system in your home.

Be sure to read more about UVC lights and indoor air quality and how they can improve the air in your home.

 

UV-lights and home water purification systems:

UV lights inside water purification systems are highly effective and kill off bacteria that chlorine can’t.

UVC lights are highly recommended if:

  • you are on well water or
  • if you have a compromised immune system where cleaner drinking water is essential to your well being or that of your loved ones.

Once again there are other health benefits to getting a UVC light water treatment system in your home so be sure to learn more about water purification systems.

 

If we can’t use UVC to sterilize surfaces in our home – how do we clean surfaces?

When it comes to cleaning surfaces in your home – soap and water is still your best defense.

Cleaners with anti-bacterial properties can also be used but read the labels to make sure you know what is in it as many cleaners use bleach which can stain or damage surfaces.

 

Want to know where we got this information (in addition to industry education)?

 

Here are just a few of our References:

Government of Canada – Recalls and safety alters – UV lights and wands falsely claiming to disinfect against COVID-19

Reporting illegal use or sale of UVC wands

FDA report on UV lights & lamps and coronavirus

Wikipedia on UV light

BBC report – can you kill coronavirus with UV light

CDC Center for Disease Control – scientific brief on sars and covid

CDC Center for Disease Control – covid prevention

US National Library of Medicine article

American Journal of Infections Control on coronavirus

 

Other References/Sources on UV & Viruses for those wanting to read more:

Government of Canada NRC Pandemic Response Challenge program

CDC Center for Disease Control – disinfection methods

FDA Policy for Serilizers

FDA UV light and Coronavirus

ASHRAE air born infection / aerosols 

Illuminating Engineering Society on UV lights