Why UV Disinfection is more effective and better than traditional chemical disinfection?
Disinfecting our immediate surroundings frequently from the high risk of infections caused by germs, viruses, bacterias, and other pathogens have become truly essential. However, people are becoming more concerned about the harmful side effects of the constant disinfection that we seem to have in our daily lives. A common misconception about disinfection is that sterilisation happens only through the use of chemicals. From physical disinfection using alcohol to inactivating agents, there are various methods of disinfection.
How does chemical disinfection work?
The process of destroying the cell wall of microbes or interfering with their metabolism using any form of decontamination whereby chemical methods are used to reduce the number of pathogenic microorganisms on a surface is called chemical disinfection. Chemical disinfection can be accomplished through many methods as described below:
1. Alcohol disinfection
The water-soluble chemicals ethyl alcohol and isopropyl alcohol, mixed often with other chemicals and agents, are used as disinfectants to kill harmful bacteria. Alcohol is a chemical sterilant that offers high-level disinfection. However, it’s the other chemicals that leave residue and have harmful side effects if used for extended periods of time
Also, frequent use of alcohol removes essential oils and makes human skin dry. Being liquid-based, these cannot be used on electronics and sensitive equipment. It also cannot disinfect paper, stationery or other mediums as it can discolour and damage substrates. In many cases, it also cannot be used on painted or specially finished surfaces for fear of damage.
One of the strongest oxidants, ozone is an effective oxidising agent in reducing bacteria with a relatively short exposure time. Ozonation is an advanced oxidation process that involves the production of very reactive oxygen species to neutralise a wide range of organic compounds and microorganisms. Its ability to rapidly react with bacteria, viruses, and protozoa over a wide pH range makes it more effective than chlorination.
First experimented in 1835, chlorine was used to remove odours from the water, but it wasn’t until 1897 that chlorine proved to be a way to reduce the amount of disease transmitted through water.
The by-products of chlorine when it reacts with other organic compounds produce various compounds like trihalomethanes (THMs) that are documented as probable or possible human carcinogens. Chlorination is ineffective against viruses such as enterovirus and hepatitis A and microorganisms such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium.
How does UV sterilisation work?
Unlike other disinfection methods, UV light disinfection offers eco-friendly and effective solutions to inactivate microorganisms in a hassle-free approach. The bacterias, protozoa, and viruses, when exposed to UV light weaken and are incapacitated to further reproduction and spread of infections.
UV light has demonstrated efficiency against pathogenic organisms, including the virus responsible for typhoid, cholera, hepatitis, and other viral diseases. The high energy associated with the UV light due to its short wavelength (254 nanometres), when absorbed by the RNA and DNA of the microorganisms damages their nucleic acids and inactivates them.
This absorption of UV energy between adjacent nucleotides results in the formation of new bonds, creating double bonds or dimers. This double bond of adjacent molecules also called dimerisation, particularly thymine, is common photochemical damage. The long and continuous exposure to UV light forms numerous thymine dimers in the DNA of the pathogens preventing replication and causing an inability to infect. ( To know more about how UVC is the guardian angel in the fight against harmful viruses, bacteria and other microorganisms, click here )
Benefits of UV disinfection over chemical disinfection
- Many facilities choose germicidal UVC disinfection to keep environments free from germs and bacteria and make the air free of contamination.
- UV light sterilisation is health beneficial and eco-friendly when compared to chemical disinfection, courtesy of low maintenance and hassle-free operation.
- Germicidal UV products efficiently eliminate germs, bacteria, viruses, and microorganisms than chemical methods like sanitising, sterilising, washing, or bleaching.
- Using UV light for disinfection completely eliminates any chemical residues that are a part of any chemical disinfection process and is less harmful to the environment and humans.
- The fact that one touch sterilisation or UV light disinfection leaves no moisture and residue behind makes it a more viable option.
- In the food and beverage industry, UV disinfection for restaurants works exceptionally as it disinfects both surface and liquids, even more so in the manufacturing facilities to disinfect a conveyor belt without any interruption.
- Pathogens like cryptosporidium and giardia are chlorine resistant and can be disinfected by UVC irradiance . Pathogens and microorganisms can get resistant to chemicals over a period of time. However, they can never develop resistance to UV light.
- With constant chemical usage, there is always a risk of microorganisms developing resistance and developing into “Superbugs”. There is no chance of this happening with UVC light microbes cannot resist the germ-killing power of UVC. (
For research evidence on the effectiveness of UVC against harmful pathogens, click here )