Lots of people have questions about whether UV light air purifiers work. That comes as no surprise. Early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, some people were making statements about the ability of UV light to kill the virus. Because they were overstatements and we are in a pretty sharply politically divided country, some people reacted by thinking UV light was going to be a miracle cure, while others dismissed it as helpful. The truth is somewhere in the middle.
We are here to help you understand it. UV stands for ultraviolet. Ultraviolet light is a type of radiation outside of the visible light spectrum, but not as intense as x-ray radiation. It is part of the normal radiation spectrum that people experience in daily life; we get UV light from sunshine. The ability of sunshine to help kill bacteria and viruses is well-established, and even if they did not know why they were doing it, our grandparents and great-grandparents took advantage of it by “airing” things outside after an illness.
UV light is further broken down into three types: UV-A, UV-B, and UV-C. The different designations refer to their wavelength. UV-C is also known as far UV light. It has the ability to inactivate pathogens in the air. Air purifiers use a combination of UV-C light and air movement to “purify” the air. While they do not necessarily remove germs from the air, they do inactivate them. UV-C light impacts the ability of mold, bacteria, and viruses to reproduce. The exact mechanism varies depending on the type of cell being targeted, but the end result is an inactive germ or pathogen. Therefore, using a UV-C light in combination with an air purification system or filter allows you to effectively sterilize indoor air.
Now that you have some understanding of how UV-C light can help sterilize your indoor air in theory, you may wonder how effective it is in practice. You may also wonder if UV-C light is safe to use in your homes, since it is closer on the spectrum to x-ray radiation. Both of those are good questions.
First, we are going to tackle the safety question. UV-A, UV-B, and UV-C light all have the ability to damage your skin with excessive exposure. UV-A and UV-B are associated with the damage you get from suntans. However, because the Earth’s atmosphere naturally blocks UV-C radiation, you do not get exposure in your daily life. Fortunately, in an air purification system, you are also going to be blocked from any exposure to the UV-C radiation. Therefore, it is safe to use in your homes.
It is also effective. The main drawback of a UV-C light purification system is that the pathogens have to be exposed to the radiation in order to be neutralized. When combined with an air movement system, all of the air in your home can be cycled in front of the light purifier. A proven technology, hospitals use it to help reduce the spread of germs, including superbugs like MRSA.
Ready to harness the power of science for a healthier home? Contact us today to get an estimate for adding a UV light purification system to your home.