With all of the chaos and uncertainty that is happening around the novel COVID19 pandemic, you may have heard a thing or two about using UV sanitization to stop the spread of the virus. You might have even seen a growing number of ads for gizmos and gadgets that produce a germ-killing UV ray that will sanitize everything from your keys to your cellphones. The truth is that hospitals have been using ultraviolet lighting to cleanse operating rooms and other places in hospitals for a long time. Did you ever think that maybe some rays from the sun could hold the answers to the questions we have all been asking about how to end the pandemic?
The Sun’s Rays
If you have ever seen a rainbow you have witnessed the full spectrum of our sun’s visible rays. However, there are more rays that you can’t see, which are known as ultraviolet light rays. Ultraviolet rays are merely electromagnetic radiation that comes from the sun. You can’t see them, but you can definitely feel them. If you have ever sat in the sun for a long time without protection you have witnessed for yourself the power of radioactive energy.
Ultraviolet Rays and the Earth
Although there are countless forms of radiation, from the radiant heat that comes from your morning coffee cup to the radiowaves that coarse through the air at all times there are three basic types of UV rays. UVA, UVB, and UVC. Each type of ray has its own characteristics and wavelength that gives it the power that it has.
UVA rays have a long wavelength and are able to reach the earth’s crust without much resistance. All plants and animals alike on this earth are affected by UVA rays in one way or another. They can be harmful to the skin if there is prolonged exposure.
UVB rays have a shorter wavelength, but they pack a more powerful punch. Most of the UVB rays that the sun emits are stopped from penetrating the earth’s crust by the ozone layer and the earth’s’ atmosphere. It is a good thing that only 5% of these rays reach our skin because these rays are the ones that cause the most damage. UVB rays can cause severe sunburn, and even cancer.
UVC rays have a very short wavelength, so they do not even come close to the earth. The rays are stopped before they even reach our atmosphere. This is also a good thing because UVC rays can cause a lot of damage and even destroy DNA if they come into contact with the human skin.
Since UVC has different wavelengths it can vary in potency and power. To be effective in the process of inactivating germs and pathogens the wavelength needs to be between 100 and 280 nm. UVC 222 is what some scientists believe is the safest and most effective wavelength of ultraviolet light because it does not have a deep enough wavelength to penetrate the skin and eyes, but is strong enough to render pathogens inactive. In the process of UV sanitation, an area is directly exposed to ultraviolet light for an adequate length of time which renders the pathogens useless in the way of replication. What happens is that the UV rays penetrate the germs and cause them to not be able to reproduce. The only way that viruses and other germs can survive is to replicate themselves and keep thriving. Once they can’t reproduce, they die off and are no longer a threat.
When it comes to the Coronavirus, you can’t be too careful. Although UVC sanitization methods can be extremely effective if done in the correct fashion, it doesn’t mean that you should let down your guard. Continue to wash your hands frequently and stay safe. UV rays can help to fight the virus, but can only do so much.