ONE of the great advances in medical science is the discovery that Ultraviolet C (UVC) rays effectively kill bacteria, and neutralize viruses, fungi and molds. This has led to the introduction of UVC lamps for cleaning and sterilization of medical/dental instruments and accessories. The expanded use was approved by the US-FDA to include sterilizing food items, baby pacifier, bibs, utensils, cups, toys, toothbrush, nail cutters, etc., even cell phones, headsets, and earbuds, chargers, cords, CPAP masks and tubing.
How long does it take to sterilize?
Disinfection using UV light is called ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI), which has been found very effective killing power against a broad spectrum of bacteria. Viruses, fungi, and spores require repeated treatments, perhaps 15 minutes instead of 5 minutes, the standard time of irradiation it takes to kill for bacteria.
What are the common types of UV rays?
The 3 spectra of UV wavelength are: UV-A (320 to 400 nm), UV-B (280-320 nm), and UV-C (200-280 nm). UV-C has the strongest germicidal power and popularly used as mercury lamps to inactivate microorganisms in food items, baby eating utensils, bibs, pacifier, CPAP masks and tubing, medical/dental instruments, toothbrushes, combs, shavers, hair curlers, jewelries, watches, keys, cellphones, headsets, earbuds, paper money and coins, and practically anything that fits into the UV-C sterilizer bag or box.
How does UV-C light kill microbes?
The UV-C rays inactivate/kill microorganisms by destroying their nucleic acid and disrupting their DNA, disabling their vital cellular function and ability to replicate. And all it takes is between one 5-exposure for bacteria, and three 5-minute exposures for viruses, fungi, and molds. This same UV-C light is used to disinfect and sanitize our drinking water and food items (meats, especially chicken, fruits, vegetables, and seafoods) as a standard safety procedure in the United States and other countries in the world.
Could these UV-C lamps sterilize a room?
Yes, UV-C lamps can sterilize an entire room, and routinely used daily to sterilize hospital operating rooms, ICU, individual rooms, in order to reduce HAI (hospital acquired infections) which victimize in 2 million patients every year, with an estimated death of 90,000 as a result. In the past two decades, there was an increase of 36 percent of HAI in the USA, with an economic burden up to $45 Billion a year. The latest advance is the Robot sterilizer technology, also using UV-C laps, for all rooms in the hospital.
Is UV-C light safe?
Used properly, UV-C lamps or irradiation are safe for humans and animals. As long as the UV-C rays do not reach the eyes or the skin, no injury will result. This is why UV-C lamps are self-contained in a zippered tote, bag, locked box, preventing any leak of the rays. They are turned on only after the container lid is zipped or sterilizer door is close securely. As for the UV, UV-C operating room, all other room, sterilization, the area is sealed to prevent exposure to people, with signs indicating the room is being sanitized and warning that UV sterilizer lamps are on and dangerous to the eyes and the skin.
What blocks UV rays?
Most any solid material, like cardboard, aluminum foil, wood, concrete, etc. block UV rays. As long as you do not see any UV light at all, it means the rays are effectively blocked.
How about dark glasses?
Dark glasses (even with maximum tint) do not totally block UV rays from the sun. The UV rays could still penetrate the glasses some, and the reflection from your back into the back of the glasses facing your eyes, and the rays that hit you from the sides of your face, still allow UV rays. A pair that totally covers the front and the sides would be best for protection. When sterilizing a room or even items in a UV-C tote or bag or box, using dark glasses is ineffective and unsafe.
How much microbes are in our home?
It is mind-boggling but there are trillions of microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, fungi, molds, algae, protozoa) in every home, no matter how we clean it in the conventional way. Indeed, there are more microbes in one home than all humans (7.72 Billion current world population) in the galaxy. While not all of them are pathogens, a significant number of them can cause illnesses of varying degrees, some silent infections, resulting in continuous inflammation in our body system we do not even know or sense. This inflammation increases our risk for the development or aggravation of cardiovascular, pulmonary, metabolic illnesses, Alzheimer’s, and even cancer. Any form of inflammation in us is the enemy of our body, negatively impacting our immune system. Besides microbes, stress, tobacco, vaping (e-cigs), alcohol, lack or exercise, loneliness, bitterness, also cause inflammation within us, as stated in my book of healthy lifestyle and disease prevention (www.philipSchua.com).
Could UV-C lamps be useful at home?
Do a due diligence on this subject and discuss it with your physician about the benefit of adding this sterilization method in sanitizing your home to prevent illnesses in your household, by eliminating or minimizing viruses (colds, herpes simplex) bacteria, fungi and molds through UV-C sterilization. The home UV-C sterilization bag (about 8x10x8) emits no ozone and could be used to sterilize almost any item at home (baby’s food utensils, bibs, pacifiers, toothbrush, etc.), following the accompanying instructions on safe handling of this sterilizer. The UV-C bulbs last for about 9,000 to 12,000 hours’ use, roughly one year. This small portable collapsible (for travel) bag sanitizer is available at a discounted price on amazon. For info, email: [email protected]
When was UV sterilization first used?
UV light has been used for more than 5 decades by the food manufacturing industry with excellent effectivity, preventing illnesses and deaths from ingestion of infected food items. Actually, the first use of UV-C as germicidal agent was the late 1800, and has been utilize for sanitizing drinking water and food items for 219 years now. The method, which is effective against E. coli, Salmonella, Listeria and other foodborne pathogens in meats, vegetables, fruits, etc., also helps preserve food items longer. It is a legal requirement for the food industries to follow the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) controls, using UV-C as an acceptable method. It is clear that UV-C sterilization method for CPAP masks and tubing, food items, and practically any item is most effective and safe in our fight against infection, even in our home.
Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, a Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus based in Northwest Indiana and Las Vegas, Nevada, is an international medical lecturer/author, and Chairman of the Filipino United Network-USA, a 501(c)3 humanitarian foundation in the United States. Websites: FUN8888.com and philipSchua.com Email: [email protected]