Posted by Doug Root on 12th Apr 2021

How a Germicidal UV Light Works

We sell a lot of different types of light bulbs here at Atlanta Light Bulbs - a lot, with emphasis. We actually sell so many different types of light bulbs that some of the bulbs we sell are not even used to provide illumination.

While the vast majority of light bulbs, including incandescent and halogen lights, fluorescent lights, HID lamps, and others, are designed to light up a space. Some specialty light bulbs are used to cure materials, dry inks, or even sterilize surfaces.

That’s right - some light bulbs are actually used to disinfect materials and surfaces. These are known as germicidal UV lights, and they make up a small component of the specialty light bulbs we sell here.

What Is a Germicidal UV Light?

Germicidal UV lights are specially designed light bulbs that emit radiation that is known as UVC light, a special type of very short-wavelength ultraviolet radiation. UVC is actually only one form of UV radiation, the others being UV-B and UVA, respectively. Ultraviolet light is categorized according to wavelength, and UVC has the shortest ultraviolet wavelength of these three, often between 200 to 280 nanometers.

You may be familiar with ultraviolet light because it is the type of radiation produced by the sun that is best known for allowing our skin to tan; however, this is the type of radiation that also causes sunburn and can damage the skin and eyes, even being implicated in causing skin cancer.

UVC is the range of UV light that is the most harmful to biological light. When living organisms are exposed to doses of light from UVC lamps, this particular radiation damages their cells. Specifically, it causes irreversible damage to RNA and DNA, preventing replication.

This sounds alarming, and it could be; very special care should be taken in handling germicidal ultraviolet lamps, and exposure to their light should be entirely avoided. They are hazardous to human health. However, because of their effects, they are also highly useful for sterilization, sanitation, and disinfection.

Because UVC radiation effectively destroys DNA and RNA, it is highly effective at neutralizing bacteria and viruses, including the virus responsible for Sars-CoV-2, better known as COVID-19. This means that germicidal lamps, when used responsibly, can be highly effective at sanitizing surfaces and sterilizing equipment, among other uses.

What Are Germicidal UV Lights Used for?

These types of germicidal UV lamps have a wide range of uses, including but not limited to the following:

●Wastewater treatment that sterilizes water without the need for chemicals

●Sterilizing food preparation surfaces and preventing cross-contamination

●Sterilizing surgical equipment and medical surfaces

●Extending the shelf life of food by preventing infections

●Sterilizing shared surfaces, equipment, and utensils in restaurants and other commercial settings

●Sterilizing the upper air in rooms by using upper air units; continuously disinfects the air and helps prevent the spread of airborne pathogens

●Sterilizing HVAC systems

●And other unique uses

Germicidal UV lights (UVC lamps) have been utilized in a wide range of settings and industries, being incorporated into an equally large range of system designs to provide the aforementioned benefits, among many others.

If you want to learn more about UV germicidal lamps, light sources, exposure times, and the kill rates of pathogens that they can produce, please feel free to get in touch with us at 1-888-988-2852.

Are All UV Lights the Same?

In a word, no, not all UV lights are the same. In fact, based on the wavelength emitted, the uses of various UV lights will vary significantly.

A common type of UV light that is not a germicidal light is a UVA light, which is often referred to as a blacklight-blue light or a BLB light. Sometimes these are simply referred to as blacklights or UV lights. UVA radiation ranges from around 315 nanometers (nm) to 400 nm.

Another common form of UV light is UVB light, which is more properly termed as a black light. UVB lights emit radiation in the range of 280 nm to 315 nm, on the border of blacklight-blue lights.

Some UV lights fall between these wavelengths, and they are not typically as hazardous to human health although exposure should be limited. Because they are not as directly harmful, they have a wide range of commercial and recreational uses due to a very unique feature. When certain materials are illuminated by UV radiation they glow with light that falls on the visible range on the spectrum in a process known as fluorescence.

This makes certain types of UV lights (not germicidal UV lights) useful for verifying banknotes, curing polymers and inks, inspecting carpet and furniture for stains, checking cars and mechanical and industrial equipment for leaks, and much more.

Call Us to Learn More

Whether you want to learn more about the differences between the types of UV light bulbs out there, want to investigate practical uses for them, or just want to outfit your business with new germicidal UV lights, we’re your best source.

We’re also never more than a call away. You can reach us with questions or comments at 1-888-988-2852 anytime you’re looking for more information on anything lighting-related!