Disinfecting Facilities With Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation UVGI And UV-C

Learn why UV-C and UVGI are effective and comprehensive methods for disinfecting schools, businesses, and workplace facilities.

Maintaining indoor environmental quality (IEQ) goes hand-in-hand with building occupant health and safety. For K-12 school districts, businesses, and workplaces alike, sustaining good IEQ entails high-operational and janitorial standards to ensure that classrooms, offices, and occupied communal spaces are kept clean and pathogen-free. 

In the post-COVID age of facility operations, facility managers are seeking new avenues for disinfection that have high efficacy and can reduce maintenance costs. For these same reasons, countless businesses and schools nationwide are implementing hospital-grade disinfection through versatile Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation (UVGI) and UV-C devices. Read on to learn more about UVGI, UV-C, and how this technology is transforming infection prevention protocols.

Disinfecting Office Exterior Door Handles

What Is The Difference Between Sterilization, Disinfection, And Cleaning?

When researching infection control and viral mitigation methods such as UVGI for your facility, you may often hear the terms "sterilization," "disinfection," and "cleaning" used. Although these terms are used interchangeably, incorrect usage may confuse determining the effectiveness of the solution you are researching.

Definition of Sterilization:

Per the CDC, sterilization refers to "a process that destroys or eliminates all forms of microbial life and is carried out in healthcare facilities by physical or chemical methods."

Definition of Disinfection:

Per the CDC, disinfection describes "a process that eliminates many or all pathogenic microorganisms, except bacterial spores, on inanimate objects."

Definition of Cleaning:

Per the CDC, cleaning is the "removal of visible soil (e.g., organic and inorganic material) from objects and surfaces and normally is accomplished manually or mechanically using water with detergents or enzymatic products."

UVGI Disinfection Light Fixtures For Commercial Settings

What is Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation (UVGI)? 

Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation (UVGI) is a method of disinfection that uses short-wavelength 265-nm ultraviolet light to eliminate or inactivate airborne and surface microorganisms. This form of ultraviolet light eradicates bacteria, viruses, and pathogens by destroying their nucleic acids and disrupting their DNA, leaving them unable to perform vital cellular functions. The CDC strongly recommends UVGI technology as a tool for viral mitigation in indoor environments. 

UVGI disinfection systems come in various form factors including; upper-room disinfection systems, portable air purifiers, and HVAC in-line air purification systems. These versatile systems make UVGI a top disinfection choice for K-12 schools and commercial applications in the hospitality, healthcare, retail, and corporate real estate sectors.

Upper Room UVGI System Mounted To Medical Facility Wall

How Effective Is UVGI For Disinfection?

Studies have shown that UVGI is highly-effective in eliminating disease-causing airborne and surface pathogens. Research indicates UVGI can provide infection prevention against multi-drug resistant bacteria and viruses when implemented correctly. Concerning the COVID-19 pandemic, the CDC has determined that UVGI may also be effective in inactivating the SARS-COV-2 virus (the virus that causes COVID-19).

Similar to other disinfection technologies, UVGI continues to be tested by manufacturers, medical researchers, and epidemiologists to determine efficacy against common pathogens. The effectiveness of UVGI often varies between microorganisms. Some pathogens may require higher doses of UV radiation over extended disinfection periods to be eliminated. In a 2021 study published in Scientific Reports, a UV-C dose of 3.7 mJ/cm2 was determined sufficient to inactivate SARS-CoV-2 at an infectious density.

The Best Methods For UVGI/UV-C Disinfection

Making the right choices when implementing UVGI/UV-C disinfection into your facility is crucial to achieving effective viral mitigation. There are a variety of available UV disinfection systems on the market, each with capabilities that suit different needs of facility applications. Below you'll find the top 3 methods for UVGI/UV-C disinfection.

1) Robotic UVGI/UV-C Surface Disinfection 

UVGI Robots are the leading entry into the UV disinfection market. These programmable machines can run automated disinfection cycles, perform tasks, and navigate facilities without direct human interaction. UV Robots commonly use 254-nm UV-C radiation to provide sufficient intensity to inactivate even the most hardened and drug-resistant pathogens. UV-C technology has been widely recognized for its efficacy against Candida Auris, a multi-drug-resistant fungus that has become an epidemic issue in healthcare facilities.

The most widely applied use case for these UV Robots includes healthcare settings such as hospitals, physician clinics, urgent care facilities, nursing homes, and pharmacies. UVGI/UV-C Robots are recommended to be used during existing disinfection and facility cleaning routines.

2) Upper-Room UVGI Air Disinfection

Amongst all UV-based air disinfection systems, Upper-Room UVGI systems are backed by the longest history of safety and efficacy in eliminating pathogens. When installed along the top part of walls, upper UVGI systems create a disinfection zone with 265-nm light safely above occupancy level. Combined with high-CFM fans for increasing airflow, Upper-Room UVGI systems can rapidly eliminate airborne pathogens. The CDC recommends UVGI systems for indoor spaces with a higher risk of airborne viral transmissions, such as school cafeterias, office break rooms, restaurants, lobbies, workspaces, and classrooms.

Upper Room UVGI System Diagram
Upper-Room UVGI Disinfection System Diagram (Source: Engineered Systems Magazine)

3) In-Duct, In-Line, HVAC Air Handler UVGI Disinfection

In the case your facility needs whole-building coverage with UVGI disinfection, the best method is to install an HVAC Induct disinfection system. These systems combine the same gold-standard UV disinfection technology from Upper-Room systems and are repackaged to fit into existing HVAC systems and ductwork. By leveraging the substantial airflow provided by HVAC systems, In-Duct UVGI can deliver whole-building air disinfection.

HVAC Induct UVGI System Diagram
HVAC Induct UVGI Disinfection System Diagram (Source: Engineered Systems Magazine)

Getting Started With An IEQ Solutions Provider

Now that you have learned how UVGI and UV-C disinfection can transform your facility operations. The next step is to contact a trusted Indoor Environmental Quality solutions provider.

Look no further than our dedicated team at Sanalife. Our B2B education, commercial, and healthcare solutions offer complete end-to-end air and surface coverage. Contact our team today to learn how to provide your facility with 24/7 pathogen protection.

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