UV Lamps Ultraviolet (UV) radiation occupies the portion of electromagnetic spectrum from 100 to 400 nanometers (nm). The UV spectrum consists of three regions:
- UV-A (315–400 nm)
- UV-B (280–315 nm)
- UV-C (100–280 nm)
For most people, the main source of UV exposure is the sun. Exposure from the sun is typically limited to the UV-A region, since the earth’s atmosphere protects us from the more harmful UV-C and UV-B regions. Only artificial light sources emit radiant energy within the UV-C band.
UV generating devices may contain one or a combination of a couple or more artificial light sources (UV lamps) in order to achieve the desired light quality.
The entire UV spectrum can kill or inactivate many microorganism species, preventing them from replicating. UV-C energy at 253.7 nanometers provides the most germicidal effect. The application of UV-C energy to inactivate microorganisms is also known as Germicidal Irradiation or UVGI.
UV-C exposure inactivates microbial organisms such as bacteria and viruses by altering the structure and the molecular bonds of their DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid). DNA is a “blue print” these organisms use to develop, function and reproduce. By destroying the organism’s ability to reproduce, it becomes harmless since it cannot colonize. After UV-C exposure, the organism dies off leaving no offspring, and the population of the microorganism diminishes rapidly.
Ultraviolet germicidal lamps provide a much more powerful and concentrated effect of ultraviolet energy than can be found naturally. Germicidal UV provides a highly effective method of destroying microorganisms, eliminating the need to use harmful chemicals on surfaces.
UV lamps are used in various applications, e.g. the preparation of water or air, the treatment of surfaces or curing processes. Specialty UV light sources attuned to the industrial process help save energy. For instance, the shape of the lamp may be adapted to the object being irradiated to minimise scattering loss of the UV light. So the UV light arrives precisely where it is needed and energy consumption is reduced.
UV lamp parameters – power consumption, efficiency, dimensions, lamp life, price – determine technical and economic properties and abilities of the specific UV unit.
Chemical use especially in hospitals, contributes to poor air quality and has been implicated in the increase of worker respiratory ailments such as asthma and Reactive Airway Dysfunction Syndrome (RADS). Exposure to and contact with cleaning chemicals can also cause eye, nose and throat irritation, skin rashes, headaches, dizziness, nausea and sensitization. According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) also, the most commonly reported occupational asthma-causing agent is poor indoor air quality.
Good air quality results in an environment where workers feel healthy and comfortable and as a result, are more productive. This decreases both costs and liabilities. Adequate ventilation in relation to environmental cleaning products and processes is a major factor in good air quality.
By carefully choosing environmentally sound cleaning chemicals, cleaning methods and cleaning equipment, businesses could realize an annual productivity gain and a 0.5% to 5% increase in worker performance.
According to the American Lung Association (ALA) also, asthma is the most prevalent occupational lung disease in developed countries.
Cleaning and disinfecting chemicals such as ammonia, chlorine, cleaning detergents, ethylene oxide, pesticides, and sodium hydroxide, are listed by the DPH as causing RADS.
Nursing, teaching and office work are the occupations most likely to report problems with indoor air quality. Accordingly to the DPH statistics from 1993-1998 nurses have the highest number of reported cases of work-related asthma, and indicate that health care is the industry with the most cases of workrelated asthma. The most frequently reported exposures in health care were to latex, poor indoor air quality, and toxic cleaning products. Toxic cleaning chemicals contribute to poor indoor air quality and worker illnesses through a combination of the product selected and the processes utilized to apply the chemicals.
Disinfectants used in hospitals such as quaternary ammonium compounds, chlorine, phenols, and bleach are registered with the EPA as pesticides. These toxic chemicals are used for routine cleaning on every surface, especailly in the hospital environment. Health effects from long-term exposure to quaternary ammonium compounds include occupational asthma and hypersensitivity syndrome.
Floor stripping and polishing chemicals
Floor strippers contain chemicals that can seriously harm the user and may also affect the building occupants. Chemicals in these products include diethylene glycol ethyl ether, aliphatic petroleum distillates and nonyl-phenol ethoxylate, ethanolamine (a known sensitizer), butoxyethanol, and sodium hydroxide (lye). Health care workers and others exposed to floor stripping and floor polishing chemicals experience headaches, eye irritation, dizziness,nausea, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, wheezing, coughing, asthma attacks, respiratory infections, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, and nose, throat and skin irritation.
If exposure continues, irreversible lung damage and the formation of fibrous tissue (fibrosis) may occur making breathing more difficult.
Scented cleaning chemicals
The use of unscented cleaning chemicals is recommended to improve indoor air quality. The Archives of Environmental Health note that some humans exposed to fragrance products might experience some combination of eye, nose and/or throat irritation; respiratory difficulty; possibly broncho-constriction, or asthma-like reactions; and central nervous system reactions (e.g. dizziness, incoordination, confusion, fatigue).
Inadequate ventilation, reducing the frequency and volume of air exchanges, or climate controls designed to save energy, increases the concentration of chemicals in indoor air. Extensive and complex cleaning projects (floor stripping, burnishing, rug cleaning) are often carried out on the overnight shift in hospitals, when fewer people are around, but also when ventilation is reduced to save energy.
Additions, newer hospitals or remodeled areas are often very tight buildings with little or no natural ventilation and may have windows that do not open to allow fresh air intake to dilute these chemicals. Ventilation and fresh air exchanges should be increased when these projects are carried out.
Mixing of Chemicals
Cleaning chemicals are often purchased in concentrated solutions that require mixing and/or dilution by the employee who is responsible for application. It has been noted that when adverse health effects are suffered by workers, the concentration (or mixtures) of these products is often incorrect. This may indicate a problem with training, language skills or worker supervision. When certain cleaning chemicals are mixed together synergistic effects may occur. This means that the interaction of two or more of these chemicals produces a health effect greater than that of the individual chemical alone. For example, if a quaternari ammonium compound is use in combination with a bleach cleaner, a toxic gas called chloramine forms and is released into the air.
Application methods of cleaning chemicals
The use of spray bottles, aerosol cans, and mechanized equipment, such as floor burnishers, buffers and carpet washers increase the airborne concentration of cleaning chemicals as particulate matter becomes aerosolized and suspends in the breathing zone of operators and building occupants. Spray bottles should be replaced with a pour and wipe application process. Floor burnishers and buffers should have an enclosed system with a filter (like on the scrubber dryers) to capture chemical vapors and particulate matter that is generated during the burnishing process.
These changes just contribute to the reduction of the aerosol concentration of these cleaning chemicals and their byproducts.
These changes decrease air contamination and contribute to improved indoor air quality and the health and comfort of all the building inhabitants.
UV-C vs CHEMICAL
The use of ultraviolet light disinfection technology is becoming indispensable in locations where human health is contingent on a sterile environment, such as hospitals and surgical centers and is anticipated to increase significantly in the air and water (and wastewater), treatment of surfaces and curing processes sectors as quality and effluent requirements, particularly with regard to disinfection byproducts and specific pathogens, become more stringent.
The C wavelength of the UV spectrum targets the DNA of microorganisms, destroying their cells and making replication impossible. Without the ability to reproduce, microorganisms become
inactive and harmless, and small doses of UV-C over time have been shown to hasten cell death also.
Cleaning with chemicals only temporarily removes the contaminants beside the Ecoray System with its automatic UVC light emittor solves these problems by eliminating the need for chemical cleaning, because offers a foolproofway to sizably reduce the risk for infections in healthcare facilities. It also eliminates the associated downtime and inconvenience. Maintenance crews and building occupants are no longer exposed to harmful cleaning detergents and disinfectants.
The final piece is the money saved by a reduction in chemical use and reduction in manual cleaning costs.
UV Germicidal is environmentally friendly and chemical free. Unlike germicidal chemicals, there are no corrosive materials and no disinfection by-products (DBPs) result from chemical reactions between organic and inorganic matter in water with chemical treatment agents.
HOW DO YOU KNOW THE ECORAY SYSTEM IS WORKING?
Around 90% of the energy generated by the ECORAY SYSTEM is in fact UVC energy. The remainder is visible light (blue hue) and a small amount of infrared (heat). Given the brightness from UV-C lamps, that 3-4% of visible light gives one an idea of the amount of UVC energy the system produces.
There are several ways to demonstrate the Ecoray is working, sample or measurement that can be done.
One is to use a contact plate containing malt agar (as have been carried out at the CRO Institute – Italian National Cancer Institute). Before using the ECORAY UV SYSTEM, the surface is lightly touched with the plate. Then it’s allowed to incubate for roughly 96 hours. After cleaning with the ECORAY UV SYSTEM, the procedure is performed again in the same place. What often are seen are a 98%+ reduction in organism growth and:
- A visible reduction of mold will be seen in a very short period of time;
- All line-of-site surfaces, i.e. insulation, etc. will start to look much cleaner;
- Most of the associated odors from irradiated contamination disappear.
WHEN CHANGE LAMPS ON THE ECORAY SYSTEM?
Changing lamps when the output decreases by 20% is common, this usually occurs in about 12-15 months. So for installs with no radiometer, re-lamp at least annually and replace burn-out as soon as possible.
DO THE ECORAY LAMP NEED CLEANING?
UV Resources lamp will usually degrade common organic debris that might accumulate on the tube surface; therefore, periodic cleaning is usually not required.
WHAT ABOUT OZONE WITH THE ECORAY SYSTEM?
Vacuum UV light (or UVV) refers to another wavelength in the ultraviolet spectrum. Some UV-C devices also produce light in this wavelength. The manufacturers of these devices promote UVV as an added tool for Indoor Air Quality control (IAQ), saying that UVV attacks microorganisms, chemicals, and odors. While this may be true, it is important to understand that UVV, unlike UV-C, will also “attack” occupants in treated spaces by adversely affecting human lungs!
The reason for this is that the shorter (185 nanometers) wavelength of UVV light actually generates ozone. This occurs because UVV light reacts with oxygen to break it into atomic oxygen, a highly unstable atom that combines with oxygen to form O3 (ozone).
(The American Lung Association states that “exposure to ozone causes a variety of adverse health effects, even at levels below the current standard.”
And the Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.) says: “In order for ozone to be effective as a germicide, it must be present in a concentration far greater than that which can be safely tolerated by man and animals.”)
The longer (253.7 nanometers) wavelength of UV-C light, by contrast, provides highly effective air and surface disinfection without producing any harmful ozone. Hence the ECORAY SYSTEM mounted on the scrubber dryers and intented for surfaces treatments does not create ozone.