You’ve heard that UV rays are bad for your skin … so when you hear about UV light as a method of killing germs and improving your home’s air, does it work? And is it safe?
What is UV Light?
Before we can answer those two questions, let’s quickly go back to school for a lesson on what exactly UV light is.
Basically, it’s a kind of light with a higher frequency than the colors we can see, but not as high as x-rays. When light has a higher frequency, that means that the waves of light travel faster. Why is that important?
Because since this light is faster and more energetic (especially UVC light, which is the fastest of all), then it’s better at breaking the DNA of germs.
How Do We Know It Works?
So, putting a UVC lamp in your duct sounds like a great idea, then. But is it actually safe or effective?
It’s true that UV radiation is harmful to human skin, but, for one thing, since it’s put in your ductwork, it’s being put inside a fixture that you are not exposed to. So the air going through the duct is sterilized and disinfected, without you getting exposed to those UV rays!
So it’s safe, but does it actually work?
Well, hospitals certainly think they do!
One study comparing hospital rooms that were VERY thoroughly cleaned with liquid cleaners, versus hospitals that were clean this way but ALSO with UV light, showed that the UV light killed an additional 30% of germs.
But the figures may be even higher than that!
One study showed that UV light is 99% effective, while Clorox wipes are 99.9% effective…but even though we’re all using quite a few Clorox wipes right now, you can’t exactly go inside your ductwork and wipe them down with Clorox wipes!
And, more importantly, you can’t wipe the AIR with Clorox wipes. Yes, you can completely sanitize your surfaces, but the only way to tackle AIRBORNE germs is with UV light or a powerful air filter.
Now that we can be pretty confident in the efficacy of UV lamps, one last question you might be wondering is:
Can UV Lights Kill Airborne Viruses?
Well, a team of researchers from Columbia University said that this light kills both viruses and bacteria by messing with their DNA and making them unable to reproduce, and in fact, in the study, the light was able to kill the H1N1 virus!
Overall, UV light is one of the only known effective ways to get rid of airborne germs, and if it’s good enough for hospitals, it’s good enough for us! In the meantime, though, we do encourage you to still use Clorox wipes on your surfaces.