No one likes germs. You could say germs are synonymous with the bad and the ugly. There’s a whole culture of fighting against them— some people even take it to the next level and have an irate fear of germs. It’s not surprising to see why, though.
Consisting of bacteria, parasites, viruses and fungi, germs are responsible for a host of problems; such as diseases like tuberculosis, urinary tract infections, athlete’s foot, ringworm and others. If not taken care of, they could cause severe pandemics like the Black Plague, Lassa fever, cholera, dysentery and other health problems that have plagued humanity throughout history.
The picture is quite clear; germs are a lot of trouble.
This is why a lot of attention is paid to making sure there’s no space for them to thrive.
Germs naturally exist all around us. In the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat. They’re on our pets, in our belongings, on the surfaces we touch— on the people we interact with all the time. It would be correct to say they continuously surround us. Where most are harmless, and the body can succinctly handle these organisms; there’s a lot more that find a way to breach our bodily defenses and cause harm.
Several preventive and curative measures have been taken to ensure that the hold or effect germs have on us is limited or even eradicated. Vaccinations are one of them. Increased education of sanitary measures such as proper waste disposal, handwashing, and methods of treatment in medication have enormously contributed to efforts in the war against germs. Yet it rages on. One super effective measure, however, lies in an overlooked, previously discovered but discarded tool.
In 1903, while searching for effective means for killing germs, Niels Finsen discovered that ultraviolet light was not only an effective but also an almost limitless, resourceful way to kill germs. His work was so pivotal that it won him the 1903 Nobel Prize.
But there is so much more to the story about UV Light and Germs that needs to be explored. It’s recommended that the average human gets exposure to sunlight because it’s good for the skin and supplies an abundant source of vitamin D, but too much exposure can be a terrible thing. The same goes for ultraviolet light, and the fact that there are three types is something worth taking note of.
UVA and UVB lights are no go areas, and it’s advised that sunscreen is applied to avoid the damage from these— it’s UVC that has the potential to do damage to germs.
How effective is UVC Light in killing Germs?
Natural UVC light doesn’t directly hit the earth when the sun shines, so any UVC lights in the market or use are usually artificial. However, they are instrumental when it comes to how well they work against germs.
The light works on the genetic material of the germ in question; destroying it upon exposure. It’s a lot of biological science involved, but because the light destroys the protein coating in the organism, it can’t function properly; eventually leading to inactivity of the germs.
No activity. No germs. No illnesses.
Over the years, a lot of technology, especially in lamps and handheld lights have been designed with UVC lights to be used in disinfecting rooms and areas, especially in places like hospitals or hospices where germs are naturally bound to exist in huge numbers.
To disinfect the air, UV radiation is emitted in air vents and ducts, partly because direct exposure can affect humans in destructive ways, as earlier mentioned.
The primary advantage UV Light has over other methods of disinfecting is that where they are chemical-based and can be rendered redundant by the ever-evolving nature of germs, UV light either artificial or natural isn’t subject to such defenses.
This year alone, several authorities have used UV light in the fight against Coronavirus, using it to disinfect public spaces, just as it was seen with New York when the subway system was shut down to disinfect against the strain.
When used in moderation and with proper handling— ultraviolet light is a promising tool in the seemingly never-ending war against germs, and it looks like it’s one that will stand the test of time.