What is ultraviolet light?

Ultraviolet light represents a portion of the sun’s electromagnetic spectrum. It is the wavelength band immediately beyond the violet end of visible light. The UV range of the spectrum is characterized by wavelengths between 100 and 400 nanometers (nm). It includes the long-wave UV-A (315 to 400 nm), which causes suntan (or burn), medium-wave UV-B, (280 to 315 nm) used to treat skin conditions such as psoriasis, and short-wave UV-C (100 to 280 nm).

What is germicidal UV?

Germicidal UV is a term used to describe UVC. UVC is short-ultraviolet radiation in the “C” band of 100 to 280 nanometers. The germicidal range 180nm to 280nm is lethal to microorganisms.

How does germicidal UV kills germs?

UVC light is germicidal – i.e., it deactivates the DNA of bacteria, viruses and other pathogens and thus destroys their ability to multiply and cause disease. Specifically, germicidal UV light causes damage to the nucleic acid of microorganisms by forming covalent bonds between certain adjacent bases in the DNA. The formation of such bonds prevent the DNA from being unzipped for replication, and the organism is unable to reproduce. In fact, when the organism tries to replicate, it dies.

What can germicidal UV kill?

Germicidal UV effectively kills 99.9% of all viruses, bacteria and mold. The following is a partial list of pathogens killed by germicidal UV and some of the diseases they cause:

Tuberculosis, Hepatitis, Influenza (Flu), Pneumonia, Meningitis, Common Cold, Measles, HIV, Strep, Staph, MRSA, E. Coli, Anthrax, Avian (Bird) Flu

I'm skeptical. Does germicidal UV really work?

Yes. In fact, the US government now specifies that germicidal UV be used in all government buildings.  A simple Google search will provide you with hundreds of articles and studies regarding the effectiveness of this technology. Information is also available on our UV News page.

Is germicidal UV safe?

Yes. UV Care products, when used as directed, are completely safe. Most of the systems operate in enclosed spaces, so there is no exposure to people. The direct sterilization units, if used as instructed, are perfectly safe as well. Care must be taken to avoid prolonged direct exposure of the lamps to skin and eyes as temporary irritation may result. Careful responsible use will result in total safety.

How are germicidal UV lamps used?

UV Care germicidal lamps are used in various applications depending on the needs of your facility.  We also offer direct sterilization fixtures, upper room irradiators and portable units.

How often do the bulbs need to be replaced?

Germicidal UV lamps are good for approximately 10,000 hours of continuous use. Generally, lamps should be replaced at least once a year. Remember, the lamp will continue to stay lit for many years. However, the UV effectiveness needed to kill organisms diminishes after about 10,000 hours. You should not wait until the lamp goes out to replace it, as you would with a regular light bulb.

What effect does germicidal UV have on surrounding materials?

Long-term exposure of germicidal UV light to plastics will shorten the shelf life of the plastic by approximately 10%. Example: If the plastic would normally last about ten years, and it’s exposed to germicidal UV light the entire time, it would probably need to be replaced in 9 years. Plant life may be damaged by direct or reflected germicidal ultraviolet rays. Transient dyes and colors may be faded from prolonged exposure to ultraviolet rays.

What companies use germicidal UV?

Many companies use germicidal UV in their facilities such as Borden, Inc., Johns Hopkins University, Wyeth Laboratories, Central Texas Medical Center and Safeway Stores, Inc. For a more in-depth list of companies, click here.

Can I put UVC fixtures in my home?

 Yes – ultraviolet fixtures from UV CARE have been safely used in homes, as well as in hospitals, laboratories, clean rooms, doctors″ offices, commercial buildings, food processing plants and other commercial and residential environments throughout the world – any place a concern for clean air exists.

Do germicidal lamps kill viruses?

Yes -germicidal UVC lamps kill up to 99.9% of most viruses, airborne bacteria and mold spores. 

Will germicidal UV take care of mold?

Yes. Germicidal UVC lamps will kill up to 99.9% of mold and help prevent future mold growth. 

How often do the lamps need to be replaced?

Germicidal UVC lamps from UV CARE are good for approximately 10,000 hours (two years) of continuous use, with only 20% decrease in output over the two years. 

Should UVC lamps be cleaned?

Yes – depending on the surrounding environment, UVC lamps should be checked periodically (approximately every three months), and can be cleaned with a dry cotton cloth or paper towel. Wear rubber gloves and clean with alcohol only. This will also help maximize lamp life. 

How much intensity do I need to kill certain organisms?

The exposure of germicidal ultraviolet is the product of time and intensity. High intensities for a short period and low intensities for a long period are fundamentally equal in lethal action on bacteria. The inverse square law applies to germicidal ultraviolet as it does to light: the killing power decreases as the distance from the lamps increases. The average bacterium will be killed in ten seconds at a distance of six inches from the lamp in an UV CARE. 

What damage will the lamps do to me?

Prolonged, direct exposure to UVC light can cause temporary skin redness and eye irritation, but does not cause skin cancer or cataracts. UV CARE systems are designed with safety in mind, do not allow exposure to ultraviolet irradiation and allow for safe operation and maintenance. If you are exposed to direct germicidal light, it can burn the top surface of your skin. If your eyes are exposed, it would be similar to a “welder’s flash”, and your eyes can feel dry or gritty. At no time do germicidal lamps cause any permanent damage. 

Can germicidal UV penetrate surfaces or substances?

No – germicidal UVC sterilizes only what it comes in contact with. If you have a room sterilizer, there are light fixtures or fans hanging from the ceiling, the UVC light will stop when it hits these fixtures. This may require additional fixtures placed strategically in the room to ensure complete coverage. 

How do you determine the square footage that one germicidal lamp will cover?

This is determined by the wattage of the lamp. Example: A 15-watt lamp will cover approximately 100 square feet; a 30-watt lamp will cover approximately 200 square feet 

Do the lamps need a ballast to work?

Yes – a germicidal lamp is one part of a system, and the system cannot be fully defined and optimized unless the lamp and ballast combination is determined. It is the interaction of the lamp and ballast that is the true determinant of system performance. 

What safety precautions should be taken when using germicidal UVC?

In personal protection applications (the use of lamps for room irradiation in homes, schools, offices, etc.), indirect fixtures such as TB and Corner Mount fixtures are mounted above eye level. Only the upper air is irradiated and persons or animals occupying the area receive no direct exposure. In such installations, personnel should be protected by wearing either goggles or face shields, and by covering as much skin as possible with clothing or sun block.