The COVID-19 crisis has led to some exciting innovations in the realm of infection prevention. One of these is the use of ultraviolet (UV) light to disinfect surfaces.
UV light is a promising technology that has proven effective at eliminating viruses on surfaces both as a supplement and a replacement for chemical disinfectants, particularly in healthcare settings. Since it is neither a pesticide nor a chemical, it does not have the potential drawbacks of those disinfecting methods. However, there are a few important points to consider as you explore the possibilities of UV light disinfection for use in your facilities:
- UV light does not clean; it disinfects. It cannot replace the labor required to clean the surface first, which must be done prior to using UV light. If the surface is not cleaned first, viruses and other pathogens can be protected from the light by dirt and debris and allowed to multiply.
- There has not yet been enough testing on UV light disinfection to be certain it kills SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. It very well might, but as of yet, there is no hard data proving its efficacy against the virus.
- As a new technology, the UV market is poorly regulated. There is no stringent agency approval process, such as the EPA testing required for chemical disinfectants. This means that some of the UV products on the market could be ineffective, and it is difficult to gauge which ones may and may not be useful.
- UV light exposure is dangerous to the skin and eyes. It is never to be used for personal hand sanitation, and using it properly requires care and training to keep workers and building occupants safe.
- UV products require the area to be unoccupied during and following exposure for a specific length of time.
We can expect more testing and peer-reviewed studies clarifying the efficacy of different UV products as the technology gains momentum and its use becomes more common and regulated. For now, however, UV light disinfection is not a silver bullet when it comes to infection prevention, and it will never preempt the need to clean.
The TIPS Advantage
At Servicon, health and safety are our priorities. With this in mind, Servicon has partnered with The Infection Prevention Strategy (TIPS) to give us access to a network of top researchers, epidemiologists, and other scientists specializing in infection prevention. This partnership assures all Servicon products, equipment use, and methodologies are science-backed and the information we share has been vetted for accuracy.
Stacey Wong is Servicon vice president of sales and head of Servicon’s healthcare division. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.