Does UV sterilizer really effective?
UV sterilizer - what is it?
The UV sterilizer is a device designed to sterilize primarily air and various flat surfaces. It complements the disinfection and sterilization processes of tools in an autoclave sterilization, carried out in places such as treatment rooms, operating theatres in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. It occurs mainly in the form of mercury lamps, which job is to sterilize the air. In the era of a pandemic, it is also used in public transport, for example in buses in China, where it is used to minimize the risk of droplet coronavirus infection.
This type of sterilizer uses UV radiation, specifically UV-C. It is short-wave radiation and the wavelength ranges from 210 to 328 nm. It works by creating thymine dimers, changing the structure of nucleic acids, and consequently damaging the microbial DNA. Such lamps, however, do not completely remove all viruses and bacteria - they do not eliminate their spore forms, which can also be a threat. Therefore, this process cannot be called sterilization, but only disinfection. Due to its specificity of operation, the device can only be used as an auxiliary method. It will not replace a professional autoclave, which is the only one that guarantees efficiency and complete elimination of not only live, but also vegetative forms of dangerous microbes.
Risks associated with UV sterilizer
In recent months, we have faced a new, aggressive and very infectious pathogen - coronavirus. It has not only hindered our daily functioning, work and social life. In the near future we will have to learn to live in a new reality. The latest research shows that this virus can survive on various types of surfaces, which means that we can infect it not only during contact with a sick person through a droplet route, e.g. by touching the contaminated surface with your hand, and then your mouth, eyes or nose. Depending on the type of surface, the pathogen can last on them for different lengths of time. According to current knowledge, coronavirus can survive up to 24 hours on paper and cardboard surface, up to 72 hours on stainless steel or plastic, and up to 4 hours on copper surfaces. All this also depends on factors such as air humidity and temperature. That is why it is so important to wash your hands as often as possible, disinfect surfaces, in particular in public places, workplaces, and to sterilize reusable tools and objects using an autoclave, not a UV sterilizer.
A UV sterlizer can be very effective at what it does. What is necessary is that all the surfaces needing sterilization need an unobstructed view of the UV light. The UV light can only work on what it has within a direct light of sight. The light can not be effective inside bends and folds and curves. And that's exactly the downside of using a UV sterilizer. Surfaces not facing the UV sterilizer will not be sterilized. Another important point is that the UV light must be checked regularly to be sure it is working at optimum efficiency. If the UV light is wearing out, then sterilization is compromised.