UVC Lighting: The Benefits and How It Will Help Modern Offices
UVC Lighting: The Future of Modern Offices
Sometime in the near future, may it be in a month, six months or even in a year, commercial buildings and office spaces will begin its reopening for employees and to the public. Life as we once knew will begin to take its course again, with one major change added into the mix; the level of cleanliness. With the Covid-19 being a global pandemic, it can be assumed that visitors are very self-conscious towards the cleanliness in any building they walk into. Gone are the days where we would simply rinse our hands in the bathroom, or leave our houses without a hand sanitizer. To ensure the safety and the trust from the public, office spaces and commercial buildings are opting to use Ultraviolet UVC Lighting. These Ultraviolet UVC Lights have been in use for decades in commercial buildings, but during this Covid-19 pandemic, there are growing interests over reducing airborne-type pathogens.
What is UVC Lighting?
There are 3 types of UV rays being produced by the sun, but the average human body is only exposed to two of those. These rays are called UVA, UVB, and UVC. UVA is thought to be responsible for up to 80% of skin ageing, from wrinkles to age spots. UVB can damage the DNA in our skin, leading to sunburn and eventually skin cancer. These two are the ones the human body is exposed to. UVC is particularly good at destroying genetic material – whether in humans or viral particles. Most of us are unlikely to have ever encountered any as ozone in the atmosphere filters it out. Due to its properties, UVC lights have been widely used in healthcare facilities to disinfect surfaces. In short, UVC light contains the most effective wavelengths for killing pathogens, at the same time, UVC is harmful to the eyes and skin. Artificial UV light sources designed for disinfection emit light within the UVC range or a broad spectrum that includes UVC. (Linden, K. 2020).
What are the benefits of UVC Lights?
There is no question that we would have heard that indoor air is far more toxic than outdoor air, as many as five times more polluted as some might have said. Ultraviolet-C spectrum (UVC) lights have been shown to destroy all known microorganisms efficiently, making them the perfect option for cleaning and decontaminating air in public spaces such as schools and hospitals. In order to use UVC Lights efficiently, it must be in close contact with microorganisms. Partial exposure would not be recommended as it greatly decreases the efficacy of these lamps. However, it only takes seconds of exposure to UV lights to clean and disinfect surfaces. This makes Ultraviolet Light Systems an extremely powerful method for cleaning indoor air in office buildings.
Why should offices implement UVC Light Systems?
With the rising unemployment rate and the imminent recession, commercial properties will become a ghost town until the Covid-19 phenomenon is over. However, those buildings that do survive will want their workers to return to work in an office where the UVC Light System is in place to ensure human protection and eliminate dangerous bacteria in the air in commercial buildings. In the future, it might also be possible for those companies that have built an ultraviolet germicidal irradiation device to remain open and to create confidence with the general public.
The Hazards of UVC & How to deal with them
Using UVC radiation to disinfect is not easy and requires several protocols to be used safely.
The radiation must be contained inside a system, such as a light box, a robot or a tower. People need to be removed from the room before the system is turned on because it can be hazardous to the eyes and skin. Often the devices need to be repositioned to remove "shading," which prevents UV light from reaching the surface intended for disinfection. Since all areas need to be clear of any soil to allow UV light to contact the surface, UV disinfection does not substitute cleaning.
There are some cautions that must be addressed when introducing UV lights into a new environment, the main important one is the extent to how UV light can affect an individual when exposed. The biggest hazard to UV lamps comes from UVR (Ultraviolet Radiation), because they can not be seen or felt. If an individual is exposed to this, they would not feel the effects until 4 to 24 hours after exposure. Keeping the exposure to an absolute minimum should be prioritised at all times. Some key points for those who will deal in maintaining these UV lamps are:
Never under any circumstances view the UV lamp directly, always use UV protective eyewear when necessary.
Keep the exposure time to an absolute minimum, and where the source is not covered or shielded, keep as far away from it as practicable
Restrict access to those personnel who are directly concerned with the operation of the UV source (lbl.gov, 2020)
In conclusion, no one has the knowledge as to when this pandemic will end but there is one factor that we can all agree on; business practices will forever be changed due to this pandemic. Practicing safe distancing and personal hygiene will be mandatory everywhere. UVC lights may be a suitable disinfecting agent at the moment, but it should never be used as a replacement for hand sanitizers or be used in a way to intentionally expose its harmful rays to individuals as an attempt to “clean” them.