We’re often advised to wear clothing, hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen to protect ourselves against ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun. But did you know that UV light can help improve indoor air quality?
It’s true. UV light has been used to disinfect water and surfaces in kitchens, laboratories, meat processing plants, and hospitals. A UV air purifier is highly effective at killing mold, bacteria, and viruses including coronavirus. When employed with social distancing and face mask wearing, it can reduce the risk of transmitting the virus and other airborne contaminants.
What Does a UV Air Purifier Do?
The device uses short-wave ultraviolet light, or UV-C light, to inactivate pathogens and microorganisms in the air. The technology behind it is known as UV germicidal radiation.
Available as standalone devices or units installed in HVAC components, UV-C light air purifiers are often part of HEPA air filtration systems; the purifier doesn’t trap or remove particles on its own, so having additional filtration components further improves indoor air quality.
A UV air purifier works as follows:
1. Air is captured and passed through a filter.
2. It’s exposed to UV-C light in a small internal chamber, where pathogens are exposed to UV light for about ½ second.
3. The optimal wavelength of germicidal radiation is 254 nanometers.
4. Depending on the purifier, air runs through the filter again to further decontaminate it.
5. Each purifier is capable of a specific number of air changes per hour. The more times it can exchange air within the room, the cleaner and fresher the air will be.
What Does UV Light Kill?
In addition to multiple strains of coronavirus, UV-C light can destroy flu viruses, including H1N1, as well as pneumonia, tuberculosis, measles, and the common cold. It’s even able to kill MRSA bacteria.
How Does UV Light Kill Microorganisms?
Light is comprised of photons, or tiny particles that vibrate as they travel. Different wavelengths vibrate at different speeds; UV light vibrates faster than visible or infrared light, meaning it has more energy. You can’t see or feel it, but UV-C light (the fastest and most energetic of ultraviolet light) can damage your skin and eyes with prolonged exposure.
In a UV light air purifier, microorganisms are bombarded by and absorb UV-C light, which damages their DNA. A sunburn is an example of this type of damage. Over time, this inflammation can lead to permanent damage and even skin cancer.
Bacteria are just one cell. Damaging a bacterium’s DNA, therefore, kills the organism.
UV-C lamps are generally:
- Low maintenance
They are also:
They can sterilize air ducts where organic material can fester and remain hidden.
Since microbes can’t grow, multiply, and restrict airflow, they won’t clog up lines and affect HVAC system efficiency.
UV air purifiers can reduce/eliminate symptoms like:
- Dry skin, eyes, nose, and throat
- Shortness of breath
- Coughing and sneezing
Downsides of UV Air Purifiers
The type of purifier affects what it can kill. The dosage of UV light is one factor; for example, some bacteria and mold spores are more resistant to UV radiation and require a higher dosage. Exposure time, bulb material, and actual contact with UV light are other factors.
Other potential downsides include:
- Some UV light air purifiers emit ozone, which can cause sore throat, coughing, airway inflammation, and worsened asthma and lung disease symptoms.
- UV purifiers are not effective at removing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found in home cleaning, disinfecting, paint, and cosmetic products.
Contact Express Plumbing Heating & Air
Customers throughout the Boise area can depend on us for installation of UV germicidal lamps. We install UV air purifiers inside ductwork to eliminate organic contamination and improve indoor air quality. Our customer service representatives can explain our UV air quality products and answer all your questions. Call (208) 996-8784 to get started.