May 21, 2020 How UV-C Lamps Can Combat The Flu
Keeping Staff Healthy
Brace yourselves. Flu season is upon us, and roughly 20 percent of the US population will experience flu-related symptoms, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. For many of us, especially the elderly and those suffering from medical conditions, these symptoms can become life threatening.
Indoor environmental quality (IEQ) plays a significant role in the prevalence of the flu in a building. This is especially true in heavily populated facilities, such as schools, shopping centers, hospitals and offices, where human-borne, infection-causing microbes have a greater opportunity to spread from person to person.
One way to improve IEQ and, therefore, reduce the prevalence of flu microbes, is ultraviolet-C (UV-C) technology. UV-C light kills all known microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, molds and other pathogens – even those immune to medical antibiotics, known as superbugs.
UV-C lamps can be installed either as upper air units or inside HVAC systems, where they can disinfect cooling coils, drain pans, plenum walls and filters.
Below is a real-world example where installing UV-C has improved IEQ and reduced the amount of infectious microbes in the air:
Community College Infection Control
In 2015, Schenectady County Community College adopted the use of Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) as a part of its campus-wide infection control protocol.
Part of the State University of New York (SUNY) system, the college oversaw the installation of 20 GLO upper air UV-C lamp units across campus. The wall-mounted fixtures are designed to provide a continuous UVC irradiation zone that helps decontaminate the upper region of most any space. Virtually all infectious agents carried upward by convection currents are killed by the ultraviolet irradiation.
“UV-C’s high infection kill rate makes it a no-brainer on a college campus like Schenectady,” explains Alan Yauney, the college’s facility director. “Anywhere you put thousands of people in close proximity, be it a hospital, airport, large office building or college, it’s advisable to try to eliminate disease transmission as much as possible.” The lamps offer the confidence that disease transmission will be lessened across campus.
The same upper air units can be equally effective in other applications, such as patient waiting and operating rooms in clinics and hospitals. A 2013 CDC-funded study conducted in two hospitals found that UV-C reduced the total number of colony-forming units of any pathogen in a room by 91 percent. Similar results of UV-C’s efficacy in inactivating pathogens were demonstrated in a 2003 study in Atmospheric Environment and a 2014 American Journal of Infection Control study referenced in Infection Control Today.
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UV-C installed in HVAC systems can also effectively fight infection by inactivating harmful microorganisms passing through cooling coils and filters. Although UV-C is primarily installed in HVAC systems to boost performance and energy efficiency, a secondary benefit is the cleaner air it helps circulate back into the building.
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It’s important to note that UV-C technology does not equate to a flu shot or other direct flu prevention strategy. However, it does create an environment hostile to infectious microorganisms, including the flu virus, having a higher kill rate than virtually any other infection control strategy. Furthermore, at an average cost of $0.15 /CFM, UV-C might be the most affordable means of improving indoor air quality and reducing disease transmission.
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