There are good reasons to be concerned about the air quality in your home. Air pollution in the form of radon, mold, mildew, dust, smoke, and animal dander can easily enter your indoor space, and it’s not only the elderly and the immuno-compromised who are at risk.
People have always sought out air purifiers to decrease the number of unhealthy contaminants in their homes, but there’s been increased interest in them since the SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19) virus has spread throughout the country.
Ordinary air purifiers are not equipped to tackle viruses like Covid-19, but UV light disinfection can inactivate harmful virus particles, making them harmless to you and your family. However, not all UV light devices are effective, and some may even cause harm.
What is UV Disinfecting and How Does it Work?
Scientists have known for years that ultraviolet light can be used to sterilize surfaces as well as remove harmful microorganisms from food, water, and air. Whether or not UV light can be used to disinfect depends on the wavelengths it emits, as measured in nanometers (nm).
It’s specifically UVC light (not UVA or UVB) that has disinfecting powers, and at 254 nm, UVC has been able to inactivate a number of viruses – including H1N1, SARS, MERS, and the current coronavirus that’s with us now – SARS-CoV-2.
UVC-254 works because it damages the DNA and RNA of viruses so that they cannot replicate – thereby inactivating it. But at 254 nm, UVC is similar to the sun’s rays in that it can be harmful to your skin and eyes if it’s not used carefully. That’s why, with UV air purification, the filter itself resides in your home’s ductwork where it can kill off viruses and mold without exposing anyone to UV rays.
Risks From UV Portable Devices
As soon as studies emerged about the possibility of eradicating Covid-19 particles with UV light, manufacturing began to ramp up production of personal UV lamps and wands. But scientists warn that proximity to UVC light – and the duration of exposure – can damage skin, eyes, and even lungs. Overexposure can happen quickly – within a matter of seconds – and because these lamps don’t emit much in the way of visible light, we’re not as likely to blink or look away when they’re directed at us.
The most common type of UVC lights also contain mercury, which is another reason why they are likely dangerous to use in places where people can be directly exposed. Some may remember when mercury thermometers were common, and that, if broken, the leaked mercury could be toxic. The same risk applies to UVC lamps, and it takes only a small amount of mercury to cause poisoning.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has published warnings about UVC lamps used for disinfection. Aside from the risks of skin or eye burning, they state that some lamps can produce ozone, which can irritate the lungs if inhaled. If lamps are not installed or used properly, they could pose a great risk to those who purchase them.
HVAC UV Disinfecting
If you’re concerned about bacteria, viruses, mold, and other microorganisms in your home, the most effective and safest way to eliminate them is through a UVC light that fits into your air ducts. These lights are placed in the returns and all air passing through your home will be disinfected by the UVC light. Unlike lamps or wants, the UVC light in an HVAC system is much safer because it’s hidden from view.
To demonstrate the effectiveness of UVC filtration, the manufacturer of the iWave C air purifier conducted a test to see how long it would take for nearly all Covid-19 particles to be removed from a chamber. After 10 minutes, 84% of the virus was inactivated, and it took only a half hour to eliminate the threat of 99.4% of SARS-CoV-2.
Safely Disinfect Your Home from Covid-19, Mold, Bacteria, & More
You can buy and use disinfectants to clean your surfaces, but the best way to inactivate viruses and other living organisms is with UV sanitation that targets and filters the air moving throughout your home. Daniel’s Austin can install a UV air purifier in your home’s ductwork that works with traditional filters to eliminate nearly all the harmful pollutants that enter your indoor space.
If you’re curious to know about your home’s air quality, one of our technicians can run an air quality test that uses a camera to identify visible contaminants like mold and mildew.