UV-C lighting explained by Signify

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UV-C lighting is a technology whose time has come

As countries start to come out of lockdown there’s renewed focus on ensuring that workplaces, facilities, and all manner of public transport are safe to use. As organizations grapple with this new reality, a tried and tested disinfectant, in the form of ultraviolet (UV) lighting, is garnering huge interest.

Signify is expanding its UV lighting offering. It is increasing its UV-C lighting capacity eight-fold and recently announced 12 new families of products and systems aimed at professional markets. But what exactly is UV lighting, how does it work and where can it be applied?

First, some science. UV light is that part of the electromagnetic spectrum that spans 100-400 nanometers (nm). Basically, it is divided into three different types, A, B and C.

UV-A and UV-B is found in sunlight. It’s what gives you a suntan or sunburn. UV-B is well known for medical applications such as the treatment of psoriasis and is also responsible for the formation of bone-strengthening vitamin D.

Then there’s UV-C, which is an invisible light, spanning the range of 100-280 nm, and has powerful germicidal properties.

UV-C from the sunlight is filtered out by the Earth’s atmosphere. We should be thankful for this as exposure to certain wavelengths of UV-C radiation is hazardous to the skin and eyes of humans and animals. Despite this, UV-C lighting, when designed properly, installed correctly with safety instructions followed, is a safe and highly effective form of disinfection.

UVC Lighting Infographic

Light to inactivate the virus.

Air disinfection

Signify also offers a range upper-room air disinfection systems thanks to its recent acquisition of the assets of Germicidal Lamps & Applications (GLA).  Its ceiling-mounted units rely on natural or mechanical ventilation in the room. Contaminated air, at an upper level, passes through a ‘UV-zone’ where it’s disinfected. Such systems can be used in rooms with people present as the light source is shielded from those below and located at a height of at least 2.3m.

View all product range – Philips UV-C Lighting

Some air conditioning systems also us UV-C where high output lamps will keep the cooling coil free from microorganisms that can otherwise stick together to create a biofilm. In addition, UV-C lamps may be applied inside air conditioning ducts to inactivate bacteria. Due to the high air speed, the required UV-C dose inside ducts will be relatively high.
upper-room air disinfection systems

Photo by Jaap Bouwens

Surface disinfection

Disinfection of surfaces is performed through direct exposure to the UV-C radiation from lamps, luminaires or disinfection carts that are activated when people are not present. They can be brought into a workplace or bus or train when people have left. An extra level of safety may be provided by remote on-off switches and sensors which can shutdown systems if people or animals are detected.

Typical surface disinfection lamps are 55W and depending on the dose, disinfection can be done in seconds or a matter of minutes.

Of course, the light won’t be able to reach areas in shadow. So, for areas requiring deep disinfection it is recommended that UV-C forms part of a multi-barrier approach, alongside traditional scrubbing and cleaning with chemical disinfectants. Where UV-C scores highly is that it saves on time, requires few to no people and no chemicals. Surface disinfection lends itself to high contact areas such as offices, schools, restrooms and gyms.

For surface disinfection of small objects, such as mobile phones, laptops and wallets, a new range of chambers will be introduced. These draw on our experience with the Once BioShift germicidal chamber. The latter looks like an industrial microwave oven and was conceived for biosecurity in the agri-business sector. At the press of a button, items placed inside the chamber are disinfected in just five minutes. Such systems are safe to use with people in the room as the UV-C disinfection takes place in a contained and sealed chamber.

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