Enter UVC light (with caution)
Environmental disinfection has become the new battleground in the continuing struggle to reduce the risk of transmission of infection. Evidence demonstrating the persistent contamination of environmental surfaces, despite traditional methods of cleaning and disinfection, has led to wide acceptance of the need to use additional disinfection technologies such as ultraviolet-C (UVC) disinfection. The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, and the proven effectiveness of UVC against this virus, have significantly accelerated the growth of the UVC disinfection market.
Power is everything with UVC
UVC is a completely light-based disinfection technology. As such, it is rightly and inevitably governed by the laws of physics that, just like a sound wave whose volume decreases as one moves away from the source, the same happens with the source. UVC light.
There is a reduction in UVC intensity over the distance, so the more UVC power you have at the start, the more effective the system will be over the distance. For this reason, it is essential to understand the exact UVC output of a system you are considering purchasing, expressed in UVC watts.
Many UVC vendors will provide their power consumption in watts rather than UVC output. Ask for clarification or the datasheet on the bulb / LED / emitter (a reputable OEM will have these on file) before purchase.
Log reduction is a mathematical term used to express the relative number of living microbes eliminated by a disinfectant and corresponds to 90% inactivation of a target microbe with the number reduced by a factor of 10.
However, it is essential to point out that different organisms require different amounts of UVC to be destroyed. So when manufacturers claim “kills 99.9999%”, the question to ask is “99.9999% of what exactly? “
If the manufacturer tests an organism that requires only a relatively low dose (for example COVID-19), then their product will achieve a higher log reduction than if it were used with an organism that is more difficult to kill (for example, MRSA).
- Ask for details (the burden of proof is on the manufacturer)
- Ask for details on log reduction on which organization (is this relevant to you?)
- Ask for details of the material it was tested on (is this relevant to you?)
It’s almost time
The UVC dosage is a relatively simple calculation, and it is entirely based on duration, or more simply, time.
While all manufacturers recognize that time is important as it affects the availability of the rooms and areas you are looking to sanitize with UVC, it is directly related to the power (amount of UVC) the system can produce.
Faster is not necessarily better because performing only partial disinfection to reduce cycle time means that only a certain number (or type) of organism will be destroyed.
UVC is a low risk light source, however, no staff should be in the room at any time during treatment (for room disinfection). As such, it is highly recommended that you verify that the system you are considering is safe to use. The system must have been extensively tested to maintain safety and must have the following active safety systems.
There must be at least one easily accessible emergency stop button mounted on the handle at waist height. These must have full authority over the entire system and, if used, will cause an immediate shutdown.
The base should be strong enough to ensure that there is no risk of tipping over, and it should be able to pass easily through elevator thresholds and small cables.
The most important feature that needs to be integrated is the PIR (heat and motion) sensor. Any movement when the system is running will cause an instant stop (as well as the system not allowing you to start a cycle if the part is not stationary for a set period).
Safety is paramount above all other requirements. Ask for details on active safety systems, their operation, response times, sensitivity, range and efficiency.
Simply, will it fit where you want to put it. Be sure to ask for dimensions, weight, etc., but the most overlooked criterion is size. Many systems are very tall, which can lead to difficulties in using the system (access door, low ceilings, etc.). A useful criterion is to compare the size of the machine to the footprint of a wheelchair, as this will allow you to take advantage of existing accessibility routes.
Service and support
It doesn’t matter if your product is very expensive or very cheap, at some point you will need to seek support and after-sales service. Here are 12 key things you should look for in the after-sales service of the product you buy:
- Functionality – does the product and support meet your needs?
- Convenience – is it easy for you to use the service?
- Experience – are they experienced in their roles and with their product?
- Performance – will the contract come with an appropriate SLA to ensure performance?
- Effectiveness – is the service / support provided effectively and efficiently?
- Compatibility – is the service / support compatible with your needs and function?
- Empathy – does the service provider understand your needs / role / application?
- Fairness – are the prices / terms of service / length of contract fair?
- Transparency – is the service / support provider honest and transparent?
- Control – do you control the service / support?
- Information – will you receive full information on all contract reports?
- Accessibility – are they easy to find?
It is essential to consider the service aspect as much as the performance and cost of the system itself.
Proof of your purchase
When you choose a UVC disinfection system, you choose it for a reason. You need to disinfect an area or object last. For this reason, it is fundamental to ensure that the products you are reviewing have product-specific supporting data.
Why product specific? Well, this is simply due to the huge number of variables in UVC disinfection systems which we have already discussed. Reflector performance, tube type, wattage, dosage calculation, etc. all have a profound effect on product efficiency and ensure terminal disinfection.
The data must be:
- Product specific – not a generic reference to data from similar products;
- Relevant – on a microorganism similar to the one you need to eradicate, and the environment should also be similar;
- Published – it must be published on a recognized site;
- Peer Review – reviewed by key opinion leaders within the industry;
- Concise and clear – the objectives should be stated at the outset and the results clearly defined; and
- Use recognized methodology – using test protocols that are industry standard practice.
This is the ultimate question: will he do what you want him to do, when you want him to do it? Ask for clarification, check validation, and don’t be afraid to push for answers.
To learn more about the THOR UV-C disinfection system, visit takecontrolofinfection.com