Can Schools use UVC - the Ultra Violet Disinfection effectively ?
From daycare and kindergartens, to junior and high schools, to colleges and universities, the schools are attempting to figure out how to reopen to the publics.
The COVID-19 coronavirus may not going away anytime soon.
Schools will implement technology to combat the virus. Ultraviolet germicidal light, an age old technology may provide more promise than any other solution.
Numerous studies have shown the effectiveness of UVC light in controlling airborne and surface pathogens, including viruses, bacteria, mold, and fungi. Because unshielded UVC light is harmful to human and animal skin and eyes, most UVC solutions cannot be used during the day when students and staff are present.
After Hours Surface Disinfection
After the students and staff have left the building, it can be subjected to UV surface disinfection. .
Recessed troffer UVC fixtures could be installed to provide visible light during occupied times, then switching to UVC sanitizing light when the room is unoccupied. These UVC troffers operate the white LED and ultraviolet LEDs on separate circuits to be controlled centrally or have lighting motion sensors connected.
They should only be used when rooms are empty. They can either provide high levels of disinfection power in relatively short amounts of time, say, in 10-15 minutes.
When more time available, lower power UVC Lights could be used , with added advantage of reduced cost of the fixtures. Such lights can be run for several hours overnight and air and surfaces in the room would receive ultraviolet disinfection.
Mobile Room Air & Surface Sanitizers
Mobile UVC room units can be a large investment for a school or university, but they can disinfect rooms as fast as the high-powered ceiling fixtures discussed above, and they have the benefit of being portable. They provide 360° ultraviolet germicidal irradiation, as well.
Numerous companies have also sprung up offering after-hours UVC disinfection services, so that may be a less expensive solution for smaller school districts, daycares, and colleges. However, there are some smaller units in the $3,000-$4,500 range that may be within the budget of many schools, especially considering the effectiveness and peace of mind they offer.
Handheld UV Sanitizers
While cleaning and maintenance staff can disinfect most surfaces with chemicals, some items would not react well to liquid or chemical treatments. Electronic and computer equipment come to mind, and schools are more wired than ever. Pathogens can easily settle on a keyboard, mouse, or computer.
The challenge with UVC handheld devices is that most use very little power, so they need to be held over a surface for up to a minute or longer. When cleaning staff have a multiple objects in a room and numerous rooms to clean, handheld UVC disinfection is simply too slow.
Thankfully, higher powered handheld UVC devices are now available that can cut down disinfection times to just a few seconds to reach levels of ultraviolet light that are lethal to bacteria and viruses. The high wattage of these devices make it so they can't be battery-powered, but they are lightweight and can cover larger surface areas.
The Bottom Line for UVC in Schools
The best part about UVC solutions is that they are effective not only against coronaviruses or viruses in general. Germicidal light is lethal to a long list of pathogens that cause respiratory and other types of illnesses.
So by combating COVID-19, school and university administrators will also be providing a healthier environment for all students and employees of the school system, resulting in higher productivity, fewer sick days, and better health overall.