How Ultraviolet (UV) Light Improves Air Quality And Well-Being

Germicidal Ultraviolet (UV) Air Cleaners are the best defense when it comes to protecting your home and HVAC system from mold spores, bacteria, and other germs and allergens.

In the spring, the beautiful bloom of nature exposes us all to an increase of bioaerosols (airborne particles composed of living organisms) and heightened allergy symptoms. Mold, mildew, fungi, and other indoor air quality concerns that can cause respiratory health issues are also alive and well in the spring. Can ultraviolet lights help?

What is Ultraviolet Light?

Ultraviolet (UV) means “beyond violet.” Since violet is the highest frequency of visible light, UV light is mostly invisible to the human eye. Most of the UV light on earth comes from the rays of the sun, which causes freckling, sunburn, and raises the risk of skin cancer. Luckily, most of the UV radiation gets absorbed by the atmosphere before reaching us.

UV light is a type of electromagnetic radiation. UVA (Ultraviolet A) Radiation is used in black lights and tanning beds, for example. Partygoers may be familiar with black lights that emit ultraviolet light, causing certain items to fluoresce, or glow in the dark. Limited exposure to these low-power UV lights don’t present a hazard to skin or eyes. The other types of UV rays, however, can be very harmful.

UV light can be broken down into 3 different wavelength (nm) bands:

  1. UV-A light (315–400 nm) is closer to the visible end of the electromagnetic spectrum and is not absorbed by the ozone layer (“black light”).
  2. UV-B light (280–315 nm) has a shorter wavelength (higher energy) and disrupts the DNA in skin cells (sunburn and skin cancer).
  3. UV-C light (100–280) is the most powerful form of UV light (shortest wavelength) and has the power to destroy microorganisms by scrambling their DNA (food, air, and water purification).

UV light obviously has other uses beyond parties and cosmetics. When it comes to health and wellbeing, UV-C light is used for air purification as well as sterilization and disinfection in laboratories, food-processing centers, and water treatment centers. Ultraviolet lights have many biological and therapeutic applications as well.

Outdoors, UV light from the sun provides natural cleaning for our environment. Since we don’t receive as much UV light inside our homes and businesses, indoor air pollutants can be “2-5 times, and occasionally, more than 100 times higher than outdoor levels” (U.S. EPA).

Partially due to increased insulation levels in our homes, home service professionals have needed to come up with new solutions for the growing problem of polluted indoor air. UV Germicidal Lights (around 250 nm) are an effective way HVAC professionals combat indoor contaminants to keep indoor air and HVAC system clean.

How UV Lights Improve Indoor Air Quality

UV Lights are often talked about alongside allergies because a link has been found. Allergens are drastically reduced by the use and installation of UV lights. Clinics and hospitals already utilize UV lights to keep medical surfaces clean and disinfected. When installed into your HVAC system, they can help clean your HVAC system and indoor air as well.

Installing a UV air cleaner in your indoor air handler will kill microbes as they pass through the system. This is very beneficial to the more than 50 million Americans who suffer from allergies each year. Not to mention the 17 million adults and 7 million children who are affected by asthma (more allergy facts at American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology).

Air ducts can contain mold, fungi, bacteria, and allergens. UV lights are a chemical-free way to kill and sterilize mold, bacteria, and other organic growth as they pass through the HVAC unit. It does this by scrambling their DNA, rendering them unable to perform vital cellular functions, effectively killing or neutralizing them.

What are Biocide Chambers?

A Biocide Chamber is a UV lamp that is installed by a professional HVAC technician above and below the air conditioning coil. As a sanitation device, UV lights eliminate bacteria and mold around your air conditioning (furnace) coil before it can be recirculated into your living space.

Common bioaerosols and airborne pollutants that affect indoor air quality include:

  • Mold, mildew, fungus
  • Bacteria
  • Viruses
  • Pollen
  • Dust mites, soil, ash
  • Tobacco smoke
  • Pet dander
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Radon

Potential Benefits of Biocide Chamber:

  • Reduces harmful molds and mildew
  • Reduces allergens, asthma attacks, sinus problems, and bronchitis
  • Coils stay sanitary and germ-free
  • Reduced coil corrosion, which contributes to refrigerant leaks
  • Lower overall system corrosion
  • Reduced repair costs
  • More efficient, cost-effective HVAC system
  • Healthier, improved air quality
  • Save on home insurance
  • Save on energy costs

UV and Vitamin D

Vitamin D is important for maintaining strong, healthy bodies. It improves bone health, cognitive function, and immune function. Although we all need more vitamin D in our lives, don’t go sunbathing or indoor tanning to obtain it. Instead, get vitamin D from a rich, healthy diet of vitamin-D fortified foods and vitamin supplements.

The sun’s UV rays are a great source of vitamin D, but are also the main cause of skin cancer. We recommend getting some sunshine during the day, just don’t overdo it and always remember to wear sunscreen!

If a UV Air Cleanser isn’t in your budget right now, it’s important to think about other ways to reduce allergens, such as changing your air filter regularly and scheduling annual tune-ups by a professional HVAC technician.

For more information on UV germicidal irradiation, indoor air quality, air ducts, and HVAC, read the following articles:

Don’t hesitate to contact Service Champions about UV light installations, how to improve your home’s indoor air quality, and how to best extend the health and lifespan of your HVAC system.

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