What is UVC?

UVC is an abbreviation for ultraviolet-C radiation. The “C” in UVC references the “C” band in light, which is known as the “germicidal spectrum”.  This is wave of light is 200 to 280 nanometers (nm) in length.  UV-C (UVC) is also referred to as UVGI (ultraviolet germicidal irradiation). UVC disrupts the chemical bonds that hold the DNA together in the microorganism.  It penetrates the outer structure of the cell, altering the cell’s DNA. This alteration prevents the cell from reproducing, and eventually kills the cell.  When designed properly, this is highly effective in killing infectious bacteria that resides on hard surfaces such as portable electronic devices (remote controls, mobile phones, keyboards),  personal hygiene devices (toothbrushes, combs, etc.), and other products.


 

Basics of UVC

For portable electronic device applications, direct exposure to UVC radiation, given the appropriate exposure time, will inactivate the DNA and RNA of microorganisms (such as bacteria, viruses, and other infectious organisms), rendering them “sterile” (unable to reproduce), which, in biological terms, results in a “dead” microorganism.


History of UVC, the advent of “superbugs”, and Hospital Acquired Infections

 

1893 – Niels Ryberg Finsen uses UV light in the form of germicidal lamps in the treatment of lupus vulgaris (a form of skin tuberculosis).  He receives the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1903 due to his work in using UVC to kill viruses, germs, and bacteria.  He invents the Finsen Curative Lamp which is used successfully through the 1950’s


1908 – UVC is first used to disinfect the municipal water supply in Marseille, France.


1930’s – Westinghouse develops the first commercially available UV-C germicidal lamps used primarily in hospitals to fight the spread of bacteria and other common viruses.


1945-1950 – UVC is used in the sterilization of the air and surfaces in kitchens, hospitals, meat processing plants, dairy processing, beer and beverage production, baking facilities, pharmaceutical and animal labs to reduce and prevent microbiological contamination.


1950’s – Air handling equipment incorporates UVC technology as a major eradication and control effort of tuberculosis (TB)


1960-1980s – New drugs, sterilization technologies, and chemicals reduce the public fear of microbes and bacteria but begin the cycle of creating superbugs that become resistant to these man made chemical solutions.  In 1961, MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) is first discovered in the U.K.


1980-2000 – MRSA and other “superbugs” develop a stronger ability to survive treatment of such antibiotics as penicillin, methicillin, and cephalosporin.  The prevalent overuse and misuse of antibiotics continues to grow the problem.

 

2007 – A CDC report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that the infection rates are more prevalent and growing, stating that in 1999 there were 127,000 cases (11,000 deaths) to over 278,000 cases (with 17,000 deaths).


Today – Hospital Acquired Infections (HAIs) are incurred by one in 20 patients admitted into hospitals.  The cost is enormous, adding more than $30 billion dollars to the healthcare industry’s bottom line in the U.S. alone.  MRSA now kills more people annually in the U.S than AIDS and breast cancer combined.