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Frequently Asked Questions

UV Disinfection

What is UV? How does it work?

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Ultraviolet is a form of electromagnetic radiation that makes up 10% of the sun's total radiation and is extremely germicidal. UV not only sanitizes effectively against viruses but bacteria and germs as well, which helps avoid the spread of viral and bacterial disorders including the Corona Virus in both the air and on surfaces. Over the past 50 years, it has been used by hospitals, pharmaceutical facilities, medical practitioners, and many other industries.

How different is the UV solution comparing to the chemical disinfection? What are the advantages?

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The most common method of sanitization we use today is chemical sanitization, which is not always practical, user friendly, or effective. Various chemical sanitizers are also known to cause a variety of health issues such as skin and eye sensitivities and even allergic reactions. It is concerned, how this added chemical exposure is affecting users. As a result, many people have a fear of using chemical sanitization processes and consumers are hesitant to use business services. UV sanitization is a solution to these problems as it has been scientifically proven to safely disinfect up to 99% of surfaces and air without leaving any residue while maintaining the time and cost-effectiveness compared to conventional methods.

Do all UVC lamps contain mercury to be germicidal, and do all UVC lamps produce an ozone smell?

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(This is one of many questions posted on an interesting Web Site that should be great for elementary and secondary school students, not to mention adults as well!)

Normal glass (as used in windows) is transparent to UV radiation to a wavelength of about 330 nm (UV-A). The transparency is quite high so almost all UV-A light will pass through glass. Below 330 nm (UV-B and UV-C), almost 100% is block by normal glass.

Does the temperature of the water and hence the lamp affect the UV output intensity? Is there an optimum operating temperature?

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Yes, the water temperature does affect the UV output of low-pressure UV lamps (not very much for low-pressure high output or medium pressure UV lamps). The optimum operating temperature for a UV lamp operating in the open is about 40 C (104 F). At 20 C (68 F), the output drops to about 50% and to about 10% at 0 C (32 F). When encased in a quartz sleeve with water on the other side, the effects are not so large. The optimum water temperature is about 22 C (71 F) and the output drops to about 80% at 0 C (32 F).

We keep seeing the terms ‘watts’ and ‘joules’ in descriptions of how much UV is required to disinfect something. What do these terms mean? Are they the same? Why are they important?

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Most people seem to be familiar with the term ‘watts' (from light bulbs and electric bills); but probably not the term ‘joules' (a metric measurement term). In short, both are used in measuring energy in any form (e.g., electricity as well as light):

A Watt is a measure of the rate of energy delivery (analogous to gallons-per-minute flow rate for water delivery).
A Joule is a cumulative measure of the total amount of energy delivered (analogous to total gallons of water delivered).
It usually is associated with how much time was needed to deliver the energy.

The way the units work is 1 Joule (J) of energy delivered = delivering 1 Watt (W) of energy for 1 second. In the UV world, we usually measure things in small increments, i.e., thousandths of a Joule or Watt. These are shown as ‘milli-Joules' (i.e., ‘mJ’ or 1/1,000 of a Joule), and milli-Watts (i.e., ‘mW’ or 1/1,000 of a Watt).

Example: 40mJ (cumulative energy) = 10mW delivered for 4 seconds

UV Light

What percentage of UV light is blocked out by glass?

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(This is one of many questions posted on an interesting Web Site that should be great for elementary and secondary school students, not to mention adults as well!)

Normal glass (as used in windows) is transparent to UV radiation to a wavelength of about 330 nm (UV-A). The transparency is quite high so almost all UV-A light will pass through glass. Below 330 nm (UV-B and UV-C), almost 100% is block by normal glass.

If I wanted to use a UV bulb to disinfect tools in a plastic container, what effect would the UV light have on the container

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Most regulatory bodies now specify a fluence or UV dose of 40 mJ/cm2 (note that 1 mWs = 1 mJ) to assure at least 4 logs inactivation of any pathogenic microorganisms. Since the fluence or UV dose applied is independent of the medium, this requirement would also apply to air. However, I am not aware of any regulations as yet regarding UV air treatment.

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