Today, in the middle of an ongoing COVID-19 crisis, when the demand for disinfecting solutions is going through the roof, using ultraviolet-C (UVC) lamps to disinfect surfaces gets increasingly common for all types of facilities.
And for a good reason as studies show that UV is simply the most effective solution for anti-COVID-19 disinfection. According to a report by the Center for Radiological Research at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center, UVC radiation has been shown to destroy the outer protein coating of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is the virus that causes the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). The destruction ultimately leads to inactivation of the virus.
With different kinds of disinfection devices equipped with UV lamps currently available on the market, the safety of such devices is the most important issue consumers are concerned about. And rightfully so, as UVC lamps used for disinfection purposes may pose potential health and safety risks depending on the UVC wavelength, dose, and duration of radiation exposure, FDA (the U.S. Food and Drug Administration) warns.
That ‘s why we thought it would be a good idea to tell you a little bit about UVC lamps used in Yezhik and Laska, Aitheon’s disinfection robots, how safe it is to actually use them, and if they can cause damage to furniture and other surfaces in facilities where such lamps are often used.
Types of UV lamps used in Aitheon disinfection robots
As the FDA points out, not all UVC lamps are the same. Lamps may emit very specific UVC wavelengths (like 254 nm or 222 nm), or they may emit a broad range of UV wavelengths. Some lamps also emit visible and infrared radiation. The wavelengths emitted by the lamp may affect the lamp’s effectiveness at inactivating a virus and may impact the health and safety risks associated with the lamp.
Two most common types of lamps that can produce UVC radiation would be low-pressure mercury lamps and pulsed xenon lamps. And Aitheon disinfection robots can be equipped with both of those depending on the customer's choice (as you may know, Yezhik and Laska robots are highly versatile and can be adjusted to various purposes by switching accessories and components.).
- Low-pressure mercury lamps.
Historically, the most common type of lamp used to produce UVC radiation was the low-pressure mercury lamp, which has its main (>90%) emission at 254 nm. Other wavelengths are also produced by this type of lamp.
These lamps, which emit a short pulse of broad spectrum (including UV, visible and infrared) light have been filtered to emit mainly UVC radiation and are often employed in hospital settings to treat environmental surfaces in operating rooms or other spaces.
How safe UV lamps are for humans and animals
UVC lamps these days are commonly used for disinfection purposes and considered to be one of the best solutions specifically because they provide an effective elimination of infections with reasonably low risks of damage to humans and animals.
“UV-C lamps have been used for many decades with only a few known incidents caused by accidental exposure or misuse. Their use has safeguarded human health by sanitising water, air and surfaces and preventing people from contamination,” a report by European commission states.
UVC is a very common disinfection solution in dentistry, for example. “UVC radiation has been found to be very effective on Coronaviruses family. Unlike other techniques, UVC photolysis rarely produces potentially dangerous by-products. Air has a low absorption coefficient and hence allows UVC to attack microorganisms present,” says Dr. Ajay Bajaj, dentistry expert from Mumbai, India.
Here are some of the risks that should definitely be mentioned in relation to UVC though. Direct exposure of skin and eyes to UVC radiation from some UVC lamps may cause painful eye injury and burn-like skin reactions. While low-pressure mercury lamps contain mercury, which is toxic even in small amounts, so extreme caution is needed in cleaning a lamp that has broken and in disposing of the lamp.
To avoid these risks as much as possible, it is important to use only high-quality UV lamps from reputable manufacturers. And we are using exactly this kind of UV lamps in Aitheon Disinfection Robots. UV light bulbs in Yezhik and Laska come from OSRAM, a reputable lighting manufacturer from Germany. UV lamps from OSRAM are normally used in high-end hospitals and clinics around the world as they have proved to be extremely reliable.
How safe UV lamps are to furniture and surfaces
When it comes to furniture, floors, walls, and all the other surfaces that are affected by UVC radiation from disinfection devices such as AItheon Disinfection Robots, experts say, the damage of UV light is ‘inconsequential,’ and may only occur long-term as a result of several years of regular UV disinfection.
Many of the UVC lamps sold for home use are of the low dose, and thus, they are considered to be completely safe and not damaging to furniture or surfaces. The wavelength of UV Mercury is 254 nm which is the shortest UV wavelength range from 100 to 280 nm.
Basically, only the long wavelength UV light which is higher than 254 nm causes the degradation of some materials, such as wood or leather. That’s the reason we don’t use UV bulbs with height ranges 280-315 nm and 315-400 nm, which are the wavelengths that may be damaging to furniture and surfaces. With standard 254 nm wavelength UV light, it takes years of exposure to see any visible damage on the surface.
As you can see, using UVC lamps for disinfection is generally quite safe both to people and surfaces. To avoid all the main risks associated with it, remember not to look directly at a UVC lamp source (any type of UV light may cause eye injury and burn-like skin reactions), as well as being very careful with low-pressure mercury lamps to make sure they are not broken. And, of course, using high-quality disinfection devices, such as Aitheon Disinfection Robots equipped with OSRAM UVC lamps, would allow you to take these risks to the absolute minimum.