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Is UV sterilization effective for viruses and bacteria?

UV sterilization

How do we protect ourselves? What is the way forward? How to protect ourselves? How do we deactivate harmful viruses? Many questions have only one answer – Science. Science always protects – this is my one true belief. So, when the world turned upside down, I knew science would have our backs. We had dealt with pandemics before and we could deal with one now. Along with basic hygiene and other precautions, what came forth as the solution was age-old science. 

Since the pandemic first hit last year, wearing masks, washing hands and social distancing have become well-adapted into our daily lifestyle. But over the last few months, I observed that there was a glaring loophole in our “safe” lifestyles. Not only were people less precautious, but we were also missing the virus, hiding in plain sight. What about the other items of daily use that inadvertently become objects of common contact? Objects that are bound to be contaminated, but cannot be “washed”. And how do we protect them?

Thus emerged UV Disinfection. The science of sterilization used innovatively with UVC irradiation. Sterilization was invented in 1887 and UV sterilization has been used in healthcare since the mid-20th century. But UV light on its own would not be effective for virus deactivation. Studies have shown that ultraviolet-C (100–280 nm) has the highest disinfectant capacity (with a peak-effect wavelength of 265 nm). In simple terms, the energy emitted from UV-C light causes a change in the microbial structure – inactivating viruses and other bacteria, taking away their ability to replicate.

99.99% of Covid-19 is deactivated at exposure to 22mJ/cm2. Most UV-C Disinfectors provide a high range of exposure settings – deactivating not only coronavirus but also other harmful bacteria and pathogens. Some of which are listed below – 

Surfaces of the objects have to be disinfected from all sides and dimensions, making UV-C sterilizers the best disinfectors, covering all bases. The food coming in our homes changes from restaurants, debit/credit cards used at gas stations, wallets, mobile phones, watches, toys, fruits, and vegetables from grocery stores – the list is endless. These items of common contact are bound to have virus exposure and contamination. Reliable, easy to use, compact enough to fit in living rooms, and big enough to cover a range of daily items. One cannot walk around with a hazmat suit at all times, but one can sterilize things that enter their home.

Since UV-C lights involve no chemicals, there isn’t any residual harm or side effects. It has a versatile use as it successfully disinfects food, vegetables, phones, gadgets, metal, and other items. Encased in bulbs and lamps, there is no chance of direct radiation. 

The only precaution is one has to be careful with UV-C lights. Exposure to skin and eyes is dangerous and can cause cancer. UV-C also emits ozone which causes irritation in the airway and contains mercury which is toxic. Extreme caution is necessary while dealing with ultraviolet radiation. It is advised that one is careful while choosing a sterilizer for home and office, and while using it.  

It’s important for us to remember that UV-C disinfection shields us from the COVID-19 as well as other lethal pathogens that have always been around. An adaptation of this habit will result in a healthy lifestyle in a post-pandemic world. Let us be precautious and trust in science to protect us.

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