How Lighting Solutions Can Help You Get Back To the New Normal Without Costing the Earth
While the world is still fighting the Covid-19 pandemic another crisis follows fast in its wake. The full financial implications of businesses being forced to shut down or improvise completely new models and ways of working remains to be seen. For many business owners the worst has already happened. But for those who have managed to weather the storm so far, and as governments are beginning to relax some of the measures put in place, thoughts are turning to how they can get their businesses up and running again, get their staff back into work and get customers through their doors again. But with minimal risk and everyone’s safety as a paramount concern. Not only to keep people safe but to avoid taking a backwards step and end up back in a shut-down scenario.
Lighting solutions is, perhaps, not the first thought that springs to mind when considering how best to keep your business premises as disease free as possible but the fact is UV lighting, or more specifically UV-C lighting has been used the world over in healthcare settings, laboratories, in air-conditioning units (including those used on aeroplanes) and in water treatment plants for years. UV-C, also sometimes called Germicidal UV, destroys bacteria and viruses including the strain of Coronavirus known as Covid-19 by breaking the molecular bonds within their DNA at a cellular level. Like humans and all other living organisms viruses and bacteria are formed of DNA and damage to DNA causes cells to die.
This cell damage is what makes UV-C a very efficient germicidal and anti-bacterial and anti-microbial. However, it also makes it very dangerous for humans (and other mammals, our pets for example). When UV-C comes into contact with human or mammalian skin, it breaks down the DNA, causing cancerous tumors, or if it comes into contact with eyes it causes cataracts. This is why there has been concern expressed by many scientists, healthcare professionals and lighting experts that people may use UV-C in an unsafe way in the current pandemic. It is essential therefore that any UV-C fittings are planned and installed by professionals from companies offering UV lighting solutions like Facility Solutions Group.
UV-C Lighting can be used to disinfect air by having the UV-C lights installed in the upper level of a room where the light will not come into contact with the people in the space below. This is called Upper Air GUV.
Currently, therefore when UV-C lights are used to disinfect spaces used by people, as opposed to say with in an Upper Air GUV, a closed water sterilisation plant, an air-conditioning unit they must only be used when there is no danger of anyone being present. In China, for example since measures to stop people going out have been relaxed, UV-C lighting has been used to disinfect and decontaminate buses at night when they are not in use. In New York there are plans to use UV-C on the subway when it is not in use.
However, pioneering research undertaken by the Colombia University into both the safety and effectiveness against viruses such as Covid-19 of a new kind of UV light, called Far-UV so far show that this kind of UV ray which operate at only 222 nanometers are too small to permeate mammalian skin, making them safe to use when people are present but which are still effective at eliminating bacteria and viruses. Testing of the safety on these lamps is still ongoing both for effectiveness against Covid-19 specifically and with regard to safety. David J. Brenner, from the Center for Radiological Research, Columbia University Medical Centre, New York, is happy that after 40 weeks exposure to Far-UV, at 20x higher levels than humans would ever need to be exposed to and for 8 hours per day every day, the mice being used to test the safety of Far-UV have shown no adverse symptoms or reactions. So, although testing is still ongoing his means that Far-UV lighting installations could be the answer to getting staff and customers back into our businesses with minimal risks.
Why Can’t We Just Wait for a Vaccine or a Cure?
The idea of waiting for a vaccine or a cure is simply not viable. No-one knows how far off they might be and businesses can’t stop trading indefinitely. Although the WHO has allowed the temporary suspension of some testing of possible vaccines or cures, in order to ensure their safety there are still many hoops that must be jumped through before these options reach us. Indeed, as Sonia Fernandez writing for Science Daily puts it currently ‘disinfection, decontamination and isolation are the few weapons we have to defend ourselves’.
Can’t We Just Spray Our Work Spaces With A Bleach Solution?
Along with good personal hygiene; handwashing with soap and water, washing our hands regularly, using tissues and putting them straight in the bin using bleach solutions to clean surfaces and regularly touched furnishings like door handles is known to kill the Covid-19 virus and therefore help stop its spread. However, using bleach does bring its own set of problems. Firstly, studies have shown that bleach requires around 1 minute of contact with a surface to render the virus inert. Secondly, areas have to be cleaned thoroughly first, simply spraying bleach will not decontaminate areas which have dirt or organic matter on them. Thirdly, spraying bleach into a room of people is not an option as it causes respiratory harm. Bleach is also corrosive and can therefore cause damage to your furniture and fittings and damaging your bank balance as you need to replace them. Of course, from an environmental perspective bleach solution is not an ideal solution. Spanish authorities recently came under fire for spraying a beach with diluted bleach causing ‘brutal’ damage to the ecosystem according to environmentalists in the area affected.
UV is the Key
The benefits of UV solutions are clear and with a range of options for every budget it could be the saviour of many business owners and their staff alike.