Last week on the Bright Ideas series presented by Acuity Brands®, Catherine Bruce was joined by Gary Trott, Vice President of Technology, to discuss the rise of ultraviolet lighting as a means of pathogen control. This week, Gary is back to dive deeper into the different UV disinfection* technologies and how they all work.
The disinfection technology that you choose will depend entirely on your goal, and your environment. There are three methods to choose from:
- Intense Room Disinfection Technology
- Upper-Air Room Disinfection Technology
- Continual Room Disinfection Technology
1. DIRECT/INTENSE ROOM DISINFECTION TECHNOLOGY
If someone’s goal is just to reduce the pathogen bioburden in a room as fast as they can, they would probably use direct or intense-room disinfection technology. This process uses pulsed xenon lamps, which will rapidly treat a room when people aren’t present.
A hospital patient room, for example, after going through its usual cleaning between patients, can receive another layer of pathogen control treatment through application of UV light for a half hour or so; or even overnight. This technology is small and works rapidly, but people cannot be present in the space while the fixture is operating, as the amount of UV light in use is unsafe to them.
2. UPPER-AIR ROOM DISINFECTION TECHNOLOGY
The next method is upper-air room disinfection technology, which can reduce the amount of harmful airborne pathogens in a room. In this case, rather than directing the ultraviolet light downwards, it is located overhead and directed upwards. Approximately the top 25% of a room will be filled with a band of air that is constantly being treated and then circulated back down so long as there is sufficient air flow in the room (whether through forced air flow or natural convection).
This way, people can be present in the space, but still protected from damaging UV rays. This disinfection technology can be found in tuberculosis clinics and homeless shelters today, and was used as early as 1941 to slow the spread of measles in a school setting.
3. CONTINUAL ROOM DISINFECTION TECHNOLOGY
Finally, someone could opt for a continual room disinfection solution; which reduces the amount of harmful pathogens in the space while people are present. This technology uses excimer lamps, which emit a very particular 222 nanometer filtered UV light.
Since the proteins on the top layers of our skin and in the cornea of our eyes absorb 222nm far-UVC, this light does not penetrate the dead layer of skin on human beings, or permeate the tear layer of the eye into the cornea. This means that, unlike direct or upper air disinfection technology, this technology can run (as its name suggests) continually even when people are within that space, provided that it is used within safely guidelines. Additionally, when new pathogens are introduced into the space, they will start to be inactivated over time.
WHICH UV DISINFECTION TECHNOLOGY IS BEST FOR MY SPACE?
One of the best ways to make sure you’re selecting the right technology for your space is, first, to explore informational resources and learn more about them. Anyone looking to learn about these disinfection technologies can find plenty of podcasts, TED talks, blog articles, and more. Then, as you narrow down your potential choices, ask an expert on the subject as well.
And don’t forget – you can always start small. Testing these options is another great way to learn a lot about which may fit your situation the best.
Find a smaller space where you’d like to implement one of these methods, and engage with a partner or lighting professional that you trust to test out UV disinfection technology on that area to see what you think of the results.
To learn more about different ultraviolet disinfection technologies on the market, visit acuitybrands.com/uvdisinfection. Next week, stay tuned to learn about another unique lighting technology: Switchable Lighting.
*All references to “disinfection” are referring generally to the reduction of pathogenic bioburden and are not intended to refer to any specific definition of the term as may be used for other purposes by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The disinfection technology as incorporated in Acuity Brands products is not for use as or for medical devices.
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