It’s undeniable that the use of UV disinfection robots became a hot topic during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The surge in the marketplace for this technology came from a wide range of industries such as offices, facilities, hospitals and more. The affordability, easy use and most importantly high efficacy make UV disinfection a priority for a hybrid model of combining people and technology to integrated facilities management worldwide. This allows for safe and effective technical cleaning alongside multimodal disinfection strategies. For instance, from expert audits, to wipes, electrostatic fogging equipment, and infectious waste disposal, to scheduled and emergency response team measures – clients receive around-the-clock services. TEAM is a trusted Federally Designated Provider of Essential Services.
UV Disinfection: The Need for Effective Technology
Getting the low-down on this exciting and ever-improving technology can help facilities management teams worldwide stay informed on new emerging disinfection options. The COVID-19 pandemic literally put the spotlight on infection prevention protocols and forced facilities to investigate how effective their plans were. This in turn, brought the most promising technology – such as UV disinfection robots – to the forefront.
Suddenly, everyone is talking about how to best deal with surface disinfection. Science and research pointed to UV disinfection technology as being highly effective for eliminating viruses from surfaces. The applications extend to a wide variety of places – including high-risk sites such as hospital rooms.
Companies need to continue to stay on top of their COVID-19 cleaning services. It’s safe to say that the world is still continuing to deal with waves and variants, which presents a good case for adopting new technologies such as UV disinfection robots. Let’s explore why this is such a great option for improved facility management.
Basics on UV Light: The Science
What is the science behind this promising technology? UV disinfection harnesses the characteristics these electromagnetic frequencies have for disrupting cells within unwanted microorganisms. UV light contains four types of rays based on their wavelength: UV-A, UV-B. UV-C and UV-V. The wavelength UV-C (between 200 and 280 nm) is the one that is optimal for disinfection purposes.
UV-A light is a larger wavelength (315-400 nm) and can tan human skin. UV-B light is a slightly smaller wavelength (280-315 nm) and can cause sun-burns, but also aids in vitamin-D synthesis in humans. UV disinfection tech is developed to emit only UV-C (between 200 and 280 nm) light. Research suggests UV-C light exposure can be dangerous to outer surfaces of human skin and eyes. If used properly and as intended, UV disinfection technology is safe if the outer areas of the body are shielded. The UV-C wavelength is too short to penetrate and cause harm to internal human tissue.
In fact, UV-C light is so effective in killing viruses and bacteria that it is sited as destroying them a success of 99.9%. Technology and science are only pushing these processes to become more robust. A wavelength of about 254 nm has been determined to cause the most damage to microorganisms.
It is at these wavelengths that microorganisms such as viruses and bacteria can be penetrated and destroyed. When UV-C light falls on a virus or bacteria, it essentially disrupts and breaks the cells apart so they cannot multiply. Thus, the unwanted microorganism is prevented from growing on that surface.
The overall process of using UV light to kill fungal, viral and bacterial organisms is also referred to as UltraViolet Germicidal Irradiation (UVGI), which references technology that produces UV-C light.
Below the Surface: UV Disinfection Advantages
It’s clear that UV disinfection is effective in eliminating viruses from surfaces. The light prevents the cells from multiplying by rupturing them. That’s powerful stuff! What are some other advantages of this technology?
UV light is just that – light. This means that besides the actual robot itself, there are no other materials such as chemicals, pesticides, wipes etc. needed. This means that UV disinfection can be supplemental to other methods, or it can replace them altogether. This depends on the circumstance and the needs of your facility. You can adopt it as your primary disinfecting method, or add it on to compliment your existing protocols – such as an office space or site infectious prevention program.
A notable advantage of UV disinfection tech is that entire surfaces are disinfected exactly where the light hits. This means a careless swipe of a wipe or not using enough chemical product – basically human error – is largely eliminated in terms of covering the surface effectively. This is also an environmentally-friendly option, since less chemicals and hazardous waste may need to be generated. Using UV disinfection robots may decrease your need for chemicals and other cleaning products significantly. Another bonus is that the robots can be set to work in ‘off-hours’ so that disinfection occurs around the clock or as often as needed, and intelligently, in tough to reach areas.
UV Disinfection Robots Do Best in a Smart Cleaning Model
As promising as the ‘set-it-and-forget-it’ imagery that is suggested by the use of UV disinfection robots, these machines require careful management to operate at their best. This technology is powerful and worthwhile to consider investing in if you can incorporate a smart cleaning hybrid model. This points to a model where people and technology work in conjunction together.
UV disinfection robots work in areas where it is unsafe for humans to enter. This is life-saving and extremely valuable. If you are considering adding UV robots to your facility, it can save lives and have safety monitored effectively 24/7. You need to find the right balance and support technicians that understand the optimal usage and maintenance of the technology. You can’t exactly set-it-and-forget-it and expect the best job. Constantly evaluate and strive for optimal operating in your facility.
Where the Light Don’t Shine: UV Disinfection Drawbacks
There are always pros and cons to every technology. That’s why we suggest you integrate these methods alongside others. Collectively, you can create a pathogen-free environment. There is no ‘one size fits all’, so really think critically about your needs.
- Firstly, UV light disinfects but does not clean. If a surface is heavily soiled, the microorganisms may be obstructed from the light and may in turn linger. If the surface isn’t cleaned first – such as a wiping down – you won’t get the results you want.
- As with many methods and protocols that started to be heavily relied on during the pandemic, there isn’t actually hard data proving that UV light disinfects the SARS-CoV-2 virus or variants. There hasn’t been enough time to gather data, especially not long-term data.
- The testing and quality control is still in the works for UV disinfection technology. Products may not be tested as vigorously, since it’s so new in the market today. Compare it with chemical production, use and distribution. There are many rules and regulations chemical producers need to abide by – such as health, environmental and other parameters. This is because chemicals may be classified as hazardous. Chemicals have been around and studied for many years, unlike UV disinfection technology.
- Research suggests UV-C light exposure can be dangerous to human skin and eyes. UV disinfection robots should only be used for their intended purpose with the suggested personal protection equipment to keep operators safe. They should be used in unoccupied areas.
- Routine and specialized services must be performed by a credited company with experience. TEAM is HAZWOPER-trained and is up to date on the most current CDC, EPA and DOT regulations.
The Best of Both Worlds: Combine the Effort
Is it worthwhile to invest in UV disinfection equipment? Absolutely – if you combine the effort by using many cleaning protocols. The manual cleaning processes we are so used to, are still effective in disinfecting surfaces. A way to boost cleaning consistency and efficacy is to run it alongside UV technology. The market for UV disinfection technology is rapidly expanding, making it a more promising and effective option for facilities everywhere.
At TEAM Group, our knowledge and experience related to decontamination and complete facility management is backed by 40 years of innovation working in various complex industries. TEAM provides secure OSHA-approved COVID cleaning services and a wide range of other solutions, such as the integration of new technology. Get in touch with us to learn how we can clean and disinfect your facility with peace of mind.