Written by Pragnya Purple | February 21, 2022
Ultraviolet radiation, popularly called UV has been used for a long time as disinfectants for bio-contaminated air, and surfaces. With sanitization, and disinfection dominating every touchpoint of our lives given the current pandemic situation, there are instances of UV disinfection technology and a central vacuum system that disinfects everything from doorknobs and lift buttons to the air around us. But does this technology really work as promised?
The answers are muddy, especially because on one hand the WHO says we should not use a UV lamp to sanitize our hands, on the other hand, we have Ultraviolet sterilization kits and boxes that promise to disinfect surfaces from bacteria and viruses. Let us dig a little deeper.
Ultraviolet light is a low wavelength light, emitted by the sun. Research shows that UVC rays are capable of eliminating microorganisms like bacteria, fungi, and viruses by destroying their DNA.
Just like outside air gets a refresher when sunlight hits it, a light source or radiation device in your air conditioning unit can refresh the air inside your space. These days there are several UV-based air sanitization devices that can be used in a standalone form or integrated with your residential central vacuum system to ensure the air circulated is fresh and germ-free.
There are several types of UV radiation/light-based devices or systems.
Think of portable standalone devices that can radiate disinfects. It may range from simple UV light bulbs installed inside air ducts, to air hand lines or coil units that emit this radiation. These can be installed inside your existing air conditioning system so that the air is not just conditioned when it reaches you, but particle and bio-infection free.
As the name suggests this is a multistage system, which means it disinfects air through this radiation on a continuous basis. These are typically used in large but closed spaces with centralized air conditioning systems like industries or factories.
As the name suggests, these systems, which come in coil and lamp form are placed within your HVAC air ducts. Most in-duct UV systems come with controllers so that the intensity, wavelength, and time of exposure can be regulated.
These are predominantly external systems and can only be used in spaces where there is no continuous flow of human or animal population. Think malls, factories, or offices that are closed during a certain period of the day. The UV tower can be controlled from external sources outside the periphery and is a proven surface disinfectant with high efficacy.
The technology behind UV disinfectants is the usage of UVC wavelength light. This light kills and terminates fungi, microbes, bacteria, and viruses that come to contact with it by destroying their DNA and curbing their reproduction. Studies show that when these disinfectants are placed in HVAC ducts, a reduction in over 90% of micro-organisms is observed.
That said, the Novel Corona Virus that causes COVID-19 is a rapidly mutating viral form, and this is a study in progress.
There are several air purifying technologies that have flooded the market today. We particularly look at the air quality index in that area, complimentary natural ventilation sources that can be harnessed, and space positioning, so that we can suggest the best fit.
Ionized hydrogen peroxide is an efficient technology that has proven to clean air that passes through HVAC ducts the ionizer is placed in. Studies have shown that ionizers are efficient in destroying micro-organisms as well, and in some cases with higher efficacy than disinfectants. But it is seldom the case that space would need both technologies.
Over time, when there is a pronounced increase in pollution, or building materials releasing volatile organic compounds, resulting in off-gassing, or there are other buildings mushrooming around your own – these are variables you simply cannot control. Also, increased energy efficiency has called for spaces to become tighter, more insulated, and leakproof. We, therefore, need other methods to facilitate ventilation through an external ventilator system.
These disinfectants are great air purifiers, especially in large closed spaces such as corporate offices, homes, or common spaces in apartment complexes. It can be easily integrated into the existing HVAC system so that any particulate or organic matter that has bypassed the filter will be destroyed.
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