Your hands touch many things throughout the day. And when you touch one surface and then another you drop off bacteria and germs and pick up bacteria and germs. That is why washing your hands frequently is the single best thing you can do protect yourself from germs and stop the spread of disease.
UV-C light is a natural occurring light that is invisible to the human eye and yet can disinfect surfaces and the very air we breathe.
What is UV-C Light?
Ultraviolet light or UV light is made up of light rays that exist between visible light and X-rays. There are 3 types of UV light: UV-A, UV-B and UV-C. UV light is invisible to our eyes but is present in sunlight. UV-A and UV-B light are responsible for sunburns, many skin cancers and skin wrinkles. This is why we use sunscreen, to protect our skin from the damaging effects of UV-A and UV-B light and why we wear sunglasses to protect our eyes. Ultraviolet can cause cataracts.
The very properties that make UV light a danger to our skin and eye cells are the properties that make this light deadly to bacteria, viruses and germs.
How UV-C Light Disinfects:
UV-C light because of its short wavelength gets stopped at the ozone layer of the earths atmosphere. And while UV-C light can’t get to us in nature because of our atmosphere we can reproduce this light in a light bulb. And that is good news when it is used properly. UV-C light is the best at killing viruses, bacteria and germs. UV-C light harms DNA which allows it to penetrate cells, disrupt DNA and kill pathogens. It is very effective in sanitizing air and surfaces and the cost to produce is low.
Using ultraviolet technology to sanitize is a great non-chemical approach to sanitation that can be incorporated into many different environments.
UV-C light has been used in the medical field since 1903. Niels Finsen used UV light to fight tuberculosis. Today it is common for hospitals and laboratories to use UV light to keep their facilities sterile.
Current Uses of UV-C Light:
Many products have come on the market in the last few years that harness this UV-C light to disinfect devices that we use in our homes. There are products to clean your phones, toothbrushes and nail clippers. All of these personal devices carry lots of germs and bacteria. This is making the technology that was once only used in a laboratory or hospital setting available to many environmental situations. Nail salons and hair dressers can use UV-C tech to make sure that their equipment is sterile between every client.
In our private homes we can clean our phones and car keys effectively. This is important due to the fact that the frequency of use and all the places these items are carried make them germ magnets. I have been regularly sanitizing my phone for a couple of years now using a UV-C light product. Prices on these in-home devices are coming down.
There is also new research into UV-C light to mitigate the risk of exposing yourself to the harmful rays. Most current devices can only be used when completely sealed or when no human is present to be exposed to the light. Far-UV-C light is anticipated to have the same anti-microbial properties of conventional germicidal UV light without producing the potentially harmful health effects if your eyes or skin are exposed to it. I expect more devices will become available using this far-UV-C light.
UV-C light is germicidal which means it can deactivate the DNA of bacteria, viruses and other germs and thus destroys their ability to multiply and cause disease.
Our smart phones go with us everywhere. Our phones are probably as dirty as our shoes and from a previous HealthStatus article we know our shoes are dirtier than toilet seats. The warm battery in your phone allows bacteria to thrive and reproduce. Your phone goes up against your face and near your mouth. Germs love to enter through your nose and mouth to make you sick. Your phone is probably the second most important thing for you to sanitize.
Using UV-C Light to sanitize your phone, toothbrush and other things that don’t respond well to being wiped or washed could be an effective strategy to use to kill germs and reduce your risk of infection.
The CDC says “The entire UV spectrum can kill or inactivate many microorganisms but UV-C energy provides the most germicidal effect.”
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