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Why is ultraviolet light used for sterilization?

Time: 2020-03-31

To keep our environment virus and bacteria free, people have adopted a lot of techniques, and one of the most recent and successful procedure is ultraviolet light for disinfection. 


Ultraviolet light is a form of light that is undetectable to the human eye. And it helps in the disinfection of any surface. It is able to destroy all kinds of microorganisms, including drug-resistant bacteria.


ultraviolet light spectrum


Why use ultraviolet light for sterilization?


Ultraviolet light contributes to quick and successful deactivation of germs through a physical procedure. It works essentially by demolishing the DNA or RNA of the germs. 


It is highly recommended to be used in situations with high hygienic requirements, because it eliminates the reproduction system of germs, stops them from multiplying, which is a major source of infections.


ultraviolet light can kill viruses


History of ultraviolet light as a sterilizer


UV sterilization is not a new technology and the history of UV sterilizer can be tracked back to  1877.  


In 1877, two British scientists noticed that the sugar water placed on a shady window became cloudy, while the sugar water in the sunlight remained clear.


They observed the water through a microscope and found that bacteria were growing in the shady water, but not in the sunlight water. After further researches, they announced that the ultraviolet light had the sterilization power.


Several years after people noticed the antiseptic and disinfectant features of the normal sunlight, they started utilizing this technique. 


In 1906, two German scientists developed the first arc tube capable of generating ultraviolet light. In 1910, French scientist established the first large-scale ultraviolet light drinking water disinfection system...


ultraviolet light is becoming daily


By the 1960s, uv sterilizer was becoming more extensively operated in commercial relevance and was sliding into the residential market. 


Today, ultraviolet light is comprehensively accepted as a fruitful treatment for the removal of germs from water. Even highly chlorine-resistant microorganisms such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium can be successfully disinfected from water with ultraviolet light.

 

Advantages of ultraviolet light for disinfection


There are several advantages of using the ultraviolet light disinfection method. 


For example, it can be used in air disinfection, water disinfection, aquarium or pond disinfection, as well as laboratory equipment sterility, etc. Few other examples are listed below:


· Ultraviolet light is an effective disinfection method


Ultraviolet light disinfection is done by dismantling the nucleic acids and disorganizing their DNA and RNA, leaving them powerless to execute essential cellular obligations. 


Ultraviolet light disinfection is practiced in a number of applications, such as food, air, and water disinfection. 


Water and other edibles disinfected by Ultraviolet light disinfection method does not change the taste or smell of these items because it does not require anything to be added in these items. It also stops regrowth of the microorganisms like bacterium, microbe, parasite, etc. 


Ultraviolet light disinfection is a fast and immediate type of disinfection where results can be seen within few minutes.


Related Knowledge: Can ultraviolet light kill the viruses and bacteria?


Applications of ultraviolet light


· Ultraviolet light contains no chemical material


The ultraviolet light disinfection technique is suitable to use and no chemicals are required. 


It needs no shipment, warehousing or handling of toxic and harmful chemicals. This means that adapting this technique for disinfection and sterilization will have no risks in the surrounding community. 


Consequently, no chemical residue is left behind after the application of ultraviolet light. It is extremely helpful in sanitizing and disinfecting all of the surfaces in a territory, with the least effort and without life-threatening chemicals.


· Ultraviolet light doesn't form harmful by-products


By-products can be formed when disinfectants react with compounds already available in the water. The development of these by-products predominantly occurs through reactions in which organic substances play a part. 


But ultraviolet light disinfection is a chemical-free activity which adds up nothing to the water other than ultraviolet light, thus no by-product is formed.


Sterilization principle of ultraviolet light


· Ultraviolet light is non-toxic


The most fundamental advantage of ultraviolet light disinfection is that it is non-toxic. As opposed to severe chemicals that are used in purification and sanitization products, ultraviolet light is an environment favorable. 


The ultraviolet light disinfection is not a chemical process, it is a physical one. Ultraviolet light disinfection is secure for use on food as well as food prep services and non-food items. 


Though humans can be injured by too much Ultraviolet vulnerability, proper safeguarding makes this a safe and non-toxic disinfection method for the restaurant, cafes, and medical fields. 


Like the toxic chemicals in cleaning products, ultraviolet light do not cause damage, if a person takes the precautionary measures.


Which type of ultraviolet light is best?


As we all know, ultraviolet light, which ranges from 10nm to 400nm, belongs to invisible light. And the function of ultraviolet light depends on the wavelength range. 


What we are familiar with are the following three ones:


UV-A, 320nm to 400 nm. It makes up the majority of ultraviolet light reaching the Earth. And it can damage our skin and eyes seriously.


UV-B, 280nm to 320nm. It can treat skin diseases. But too much exposure will cause sunburn and even skin cancer. 


UV-C, 200nm to 280nm. It is particularly good at sterilizing. But its penetration ability is very weak. Before reaching the ground, all UV-C lights will be absorbed by ozone in the atmosphere. 


Related Knowledge: Which UV light is the best?


ultraviolet light has sterilizaton effect


Nowdays, most ultraviolet disinfection equipment uses UV-C light as the source of its disinfection ability. UV-C light is an effective solution for disinfection, which is why it is the most widely used type of light.


However, it will also cause some serious damage. If you are not careful, UV-C light can penetrate your skin and cause harm or injury. Over time, UV-C light can also damage certain plastics and rubber materials.


Many conventional UV-C lamps even contain mercury, which makes the sterilization more dangerous and complicated. 


Return to the question: which type of ultraviolet light is the best? The answer is not certain. 


For example, we can use UVC in a confined space to avoid its leakage and over attenuation. And we can also combine UV-A with photocatalyst filter to decomposition and removal of organic compound in air.


What real matters is whether we understand their different features.

 

Precautions when using ultraviolet light


Humans are at risk if they are exposed to ultraviolet light even for little a time period. The intensity of harm depends upon the exposure time, the intensity and wavelength of ultraviolet light, and the sensitivity of the person.


Following are few guidelines which should be followed in order to keep yourself safe from ultraviolet light.


ultraviolet light can harm human


· Use filters, lenses, eyewear and wear gloves introduced by Ophthalmologists.

· Use ultraviolet light beam paths which are closed

· Use a manual or electronic cover to close the beam when the ultraviolet light source is not in use

· Never look straight at the ultraviolet light beam

· Avoid visiting the areas where ultraviolet light is being used

· Protect your arms and neck by covering them and decrease the exposure time

· Display warning signs at the laboratory or entrance to areas using ultraviolet light


In summary, ultraviolet light is a misunderstood and under-utilized tool for sterilization and disinfection. If we take good use of ultraviolet, it will become the most powerful weapon in different fields.


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