How Do UV Light Indoor Air Quality Products Work?

UV lights or lamps are increasing in popularity, as more and more homeowners grow aware of the importance of indoor air quality. UV lights can work as standalone applications, or they can be paired with HEPA filters. The main purpose of these products is to kill germs, particulates, and allergens. Things get pretty technical, but when it comes right down to it, these products work by deactivating the DNA of the organisms they come into contact with. When the ultraviolet light shines on bacteria or fungus, the lights deactivate the DNA of that organism. This is effective because it stops the organisms from replicating until they eventually die out.

What Is Ultraviolet Light?

UV light is a different type of light than most people assume. If you are like most people when you hear the term light, you probably automatically start thinking about house lights or something similar. UV light, on the other hand, is a completely different application. UV light is light that cannot be seen with the naked eye. This is because it has a shorter wavelength when compared to infrared lighting. Even though the wavelength is shorter, it is a much more intense type of light. UV lighting also has higher energy, which means it can be damaging to the human eye. On an interesting side note, some animals can see UV light. Take the bumblebee, for instance. Humans, on the other hand, cannot see or feel the light, but it can cause irreparable damage when started at for too long. Imagine sitting under the sun for an extended time without the protection of sunscreen. You’d end up with a nasty sunburn. The redness and inflammation that you’d see on your skin from sitting under the sun without protection would be because of the UV rays the sun emits. The UV rays from the sun would destroy the cells in your skin. It is a good thing that only 5% of the UV rays produced by the sun penetrate through the Earth’s atmosphere. The rest is unable to penetrate the surface.

UV Light Has Different Categories

UV light can be broken down into three different categories. These would be UV-A, UV-B, and regular UV. UV-A – The wavelength of this type of lighting measures anywhere from 315 to 400 nanometers. You’ll find much more UV-A in the Earth’s atmosphere as compared to the other categories. While exposure to UV-A does not cause sunburn, it can cause the skin to look aged and wrinkled. UV-B – With anywhere from 280 to 315 nanometers, UV-B is the category of UV lighting that is responsible for nasty sunburn and skin cancers. As you learned above, only 5% of this type of light penetrates the Earth’s surface, but that 5% can be incredibly damaging. UV – UV light has the shortest wavelength of all three categories. It measures out anywhere between 100 and 280 nanometers. Because of the short wavelength, it produces massive amounts of powerful energy. UV light is also referred to sometimes as UV-C, and nearly 99% of this type of lighting is blocked out by the Earth. It is a good thing because UV-C lightning is extremely harmful, giving it the properties to kill germs and disinfect surfaces.

Installation Of Germicidal Lighting

Due to the unique properties of UV or UV-C lighting, specialists learned that they could harness and direct this light to sanitize specific environments. Because this lighting is so potent and harmful to humans the installation of UV products should be handled only by trained professionals with the proper knowledge and safety equipment. UV lighting can be harnessed into lamps and installed in specific environments to kill and prevent the growth of fungi and bacteria. These types of applications have become increasingly popular in the heating and air industry, where mold and fungi are two of the biggest potential threats. A lot of these lamps are used in conjunction with HEPA filters to increase their efficiency. When paired with a HEPA filter, the UV light will complement the filtration system, making it more effective. In order to maximize the benefits of such systems, they need to be installed in the right locations. There are usually two ideal locations for such products. One would be near the central air coils and the other would be in the return ducts. The coils are an ideal location because they are responsible for cooling and dehumidifying the air in the home. These environments are perfect breeding grounds for mold and fungi growth. Installing a UV lamp near these areas will prevent such potential growth. The return air ducts are another ideal location because this is where the air from the system is circulated. When you install the applications in this location, it attacks and cleanses the air before it has the chance to reach your indoor living space.

How Does UV Light Work Against Microbes?

UV-C is extremely powerful lighting. Any molecules that come into contact with this light will be eradicated over time. This is what makes the light so effective against microbes. In the simplest of explanations, the powerful properties of UV light absorb the energy from bacteria, viruses, and molds. UV lights are also commonly used in areas where certain surfaces need to be disinfected. UV can be effective in water applications as well because water is another potent breeding ground for harmful microbes. UV lighting can be applied to water or water products and make them safer by eliminating such threats.

How Safe Are UV Lamps?

UV lamps and products can be extremely safe when they are used with proper caution. Manufacturers install the lamps with thick coatings that don’t allow emissions of UV properties where they are not needed. If the light didn’t have this coating, it would be extremely dangerous and unsafe to use. The EPA started experimenting with UV lighting and similar products over a century ago. It was discovered that these lights emit a wavelength of about 230 nanometers, which means that can be harmful to humans. However, they also emit ozone. Since these lights can split free oxygen molecules, it causes them to emit a form of ozone. This ozone can be dangerous in high ratios. UV light split free oxygen molecules into two separate oxygen molecules. When this process takes place, it forces one of those atoms to combine with the free oxygen in the air, and that is how ozone is formed. Ozone is considered a dangerous gas because it interferes with the transportation of oxygen in the body. That said, it is only dangerous in large amounts. What little bit is produced from a single UV application isn’t enough to raise concerns.

The Types Of UV Lamps

Just like there are different categories of UV rays, there are different categories of UV lights. There are pulsed Zenon lights, low-pressure mercury lamps, and LED lamps. Pulsed Xenon – These are by far the most common types of UV applications you’ll find in the field. They are considered gas-discharge lamps because they give off visible UV light that registers to the infrared region of the light spectrum. The gas emitted by these types is safe and actually considered helpful when it comes to disinfecting contaminated surfaces. The biggest problem with this type of UV lighting is that it requires dedicated hardware for operation. Low-Pressure Mercury Lamps – These types of lights are also common. They emit radiation but only in narrow spectrums. They are called mercury lams because they utilize mercury. Unfortunately, mercury itself is already considered a harmful element and has been outlawed in many applications. While they can be safe in certain applications, they do pose a unique problem. They require a warm-up and cool-down period. This makes them extremely ineffective because they’ll always be consuming power. LED Lamps – When it comes to eco-friendly UV applications, you won’t find any more so than LED lamps. They operate with low power consumption. These lamps have an extremely long lifespan and are even more ideal when disinfecting heat-sensitive surfaces. The only downside to these lights is that it takes longer for them to produce results.

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