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Indoor Air Quality and Germicidal UV-Light Systems: Do They Work?

Disinfecting UV Lamps

Germicidal UV-light fixtures are back in the spotlight as consumers and scientists look to determine whether they offer a source of protection from COVID-19. The evidence as to whether ultraviolet light is effective in eliminating this particular novel coronavirus is unclear. But records show it does have an impact in reducing other bacteria related to previous coronaviruses, including SARS. Some companies and organizations, including the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority and Amazon, have announced they are using germicidal UV-lights to irradiate airborne pathogens and limit contact with certain germs.

What is irradiation?

Irradiation is the exposure of a substance to radiation or the application of radiation for therapeutic or sterilization purposes.

What does that mean for me?

In the midst of a global pandemic, consumers are considering new and different ways to provide clean air to their families at home. Maintaining high-quality indoor air is an excellent way to protect loved ones from airborne pathogens. Now that everyone is spending more time at home, it’s important to consider all avenues for making sure home is safe and sound. Germicidal UV lights are a highly-technical option that is actually available to homeowners like you.

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UV Light Spectrum showing UV-A UV-B and UV-C

Honeywell offers germicidal UV products for the home that use UV-C lights. UV-C rays are lighter than UV-A or UV-B rays – the two types that cause sunburn and premature aging. UV-C rays do not penetrate the Earth’s atmosphere, which means most organisms have no natural defenses against them. Therefore, UV-C rays can be useful in killing organisms like bacteria. In addition, UV-C products don’t leave behind any chemicals, residue, or other waste; they are a clean source of disinfection. Last, but certainly not least – the solution is fast. In clinical studies, UV-C applied in the proper doses takes only a few seconds to significantly reduce certain pathogens.

There are several types of home UV light products. All American Heating specializes in Honeywell’s return air duct and coil irradiation models. Return air duct systems kill most germs before they recirculate. Independent lab studies show that ultraviolet air treatment systems like these kill a large percentage of airborne bacteria as it travels through the light.

Coil irradiation models are mounted above the central cooling coils on home A/C systems. The lights continuously bathe the coils in UV-C energy, which can eliminate bacteria. Honeywell’s products are also designed to optimize safety. Lamps will not light unless they are properly mounted on the duct or coil, and the lights are visible through a light-pipe window.

What comes next?

Dr. Jim Malley, University of New Hampshire professor of civil and environmental engineering, offers the following advice for choosing an at-home germicidal UV-light system:

  • Do your research and find out whether the device you’re considering has been used for home medical device disinfection, like with CPAP masks, or if it has a commercial history, like DNA sample decontamination in a lab setting.
  • Beware of devices selling for low prices. A price tag coming in under $150 indicates the product is probably not effective or reliable. A quality device is more likely to cost in the $300-500 range, if not more.
  • Signs of a lackluster product include no users’ manual, an absence of customer or technical support, and little to no performance data from independent testing labs.

If you’re considering a germicidal UV-lighting system for your home, make a note of these points as you do your research. More information on home germicidal UV-light systems is also available in HVAC Training 101’s 2020 Buyer’s Guide.

Call All American Heating for an estimate on a Honeywell system for your home.

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