Disinfecting bacteria and viruses is essential to minimize the spread of diseases, especially in the age of COVID-19. UVC light has effectively been used to sanitize air, water, and surfaces for decades. But what are the benefits of UVC light and how does it compare to wipes?
Benefit #1: UVC reduces waste
Disinfecting wipes are non-biodegradable and contain synthetic fibers that prevent them from being compostable or recyclable. So, a one time use of a wipe usually goes straight to the landfill which accumulates a large build up of waste, especially throughout our excessive use right now. The other downside? You'll probably need to use more than one wipe. These wipes have been essential during this time in preventing us from getting sick, but UVC light could not only help the health crisis we are in right now, but the environmental crisis as well.
Benefit #2: Disinfecting wipes can spread bacteria
The short and simple summary is merely that disinfecting wipes can transfer the contamination from one surface area to another. Emergency room physician Sampson Davis explained on The Dr. Oz Show that you may actually "be spreading the bacteria and the germs versus disinfecting the surface." While disinfecting wipes are highly effective in killing germs, this occurrence can be counteractive. UVC light does not face this problem as it inactivates the DNA and RNA in microorganisms from a distance.
Benefit #3: UVC light can sanitize objects and surfaces that harsh chemicals should not
Disinfecting wipes contain lots of harsh chemicals. These disinfectant chemicals can trigger asthma, allergies and other health concerns. Of importance, they should not be used on items that come in contact with our mouths, obviously including items such as pacifiers, utensils, cups, toothbrushes, baby toys, and more. UVC light is perfect for disinfecting these types of objects since it uses a physical process of denaturing the genetic material in germs, as opposed to a chemical one. Another reason why UVC light is environmentally friendly. Furthermore, babies are constantly putting toys in their mouths, and unfortunately, often pick these toys up from the floor. UVC light is the best portable option for the times when a pacifier or toy is given to a baby, and soap and water isn't easily accessible. Aside from children toys, there are every day items that live in high bacteria environments, such as a toothbrush in the bathroom, and utensils at restaurants. These items can best be sanitized within a few seconds of a UVC scan. Not to mention items that wipes cannot even attempt to disinfect, like air and water!
Benefit #4: UVC kills germs immediately, wipes require a "kill time"
Research at the University of California, Davis has proven that only 1 second of UVC light emission is needed to kill 100% of the bacteria. Labels on all disinfecting products say that surfaces must be entirely wet with the product for "4-10 minutes" before it is disinfected. This is referred to as the "kill time" or "contact time." Unfortunately, this means those 15-second wiping sessions could be doing more harm than good. Remember, disinfectants only work while wet. This leads into the next benefit of UVC...
Benefit #5: UVC light is compatible with items that are susceptible to liquid damage
There are filthy items we often overlook sanitizing because of their susceptibility to water damage– paperwork and money being some of them. Then, there are susceptible items that we do sanitize, but overlook the dangers of the hardware damage– electronics and screens being some of those. Cleaning wipes contain chemicals that actually break down the protective coat in electronic screens. The same MIT study states that "because of the risks of smartphone damage with exposure to liquid disinfectants, UVC sanitization methods are potentially superior to disinfection with bleach, ethanol, or quaternary ammonium solutions" that are found in these wipes. UVC sanitization is quick and dry without leaving any moisture and residue.
Benefit #6: UVC light is effective in killing some germs that wipes do not.
A 2017 study from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) found that UVC light was the most effective way to sanitize 100% of bacteria on a smartphone, beating a 70% ethanol spray, a disinfectant spray, germicidal wipes, and baby wipes.
UVC light destroys molds and spores. Other disinfection methods do not all destroy molds and spores, and the ones that do may leave a damp environment where fungi can thrive. Specifically, disinfecting wipes must be kept in room-temperature environments because extremely warm or extremely cold temperatures may cause "fold molds." As the name implies, this is a fungus that grows in between the folds of the wipes. One of the most common places people store wipes are car dashboards. Imagine taking a wipe out on a hot day and smearing that all over your steering wheel!
Since UVC disinfection is a dry method, it not only takes care of existing mold, but also prevents its growth in the future. Similarly, depending on chemical content, wipes may not work on all bacteria, virus, spores and fungi. Alcohol, for example, doesn’t work well on fungal spores. Pathogens like cryptosporidium and giardia are chlorine resistant but can be disinfected by UVC light.
The most important aspect of this benefit can be emphasized in it's very own benefit...
Benefit #7: UVC light kills drug-resistant bacteria without building immunity
With the ongoing increase in the superbug population (bacteria that are drug-resistant), UVC is the only technology that can work on eliminating these harmful microbes and preventing them from entering your body. Disinfecting products such as wipes are building the bacteria's immunity to these methods. Thus, the use of some traditional antimicrobial agents and disinfectants has had dire consequences. The development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is a significant problem in the medical community.
Unlike traditional disinfection methods, UVC's physical method of disinfection kills these bacteria and ensures they cannot build immunity to it. That’s a huge advantage, particularly for hospitals and assisted living facilities.
With COVID-19, UVC has come to the forefront as a more effective way of sanitizing air, water, and surfaces. The shift towards UVC technology to mitigate pathogen contagion in addition to development of portable UVC devices, leads to an optimistic future.