By Brian Stern
COVID-19 has completely transformed how we interact with our surroundings.
Doorknobs, elevator buttons, restaurant tables, and even the air itself—all now seem like potential deadly threats. But the reality is that viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens aren’t new. And as more and more pathogens become resistant to common disinfectants and drugs, the danger doesn’t end with COVID-19.
Hospitals weren’t prepared for this pandemic, and they can’t afford to be caught off guard again next time. That leaves them with a dual challenge: ensuring a safe and sanitary environment and rebuilding public confidence in their safety precautions.
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As we’ve seen during the current pandemic, diseases can spread rapidly between patients and care providers. But that risk is not limited to COVID-19. In fact, 1 in 20 hospital patients contracts a healthcare-associated infection daily, costing the industry billions every year. As more and more antimicrobial-resistant pathogens emerge, that threat will only increase.
In other words, relying on manual cleaning methods is simply not good enough. That’s where UV disinfection comes in. New applications of UV technology have the potential to radically reduce the dangers of infection without requiring additional chemical disinfectants or a major investment of employee time. Since this technology can disinfect the air as well as surfaces, it provides an important additional layer of clinical-grade protection to protect and reassure staff and patients.
Scientists have known for over 140 years that the sun’s UV rays, especially the shorter wavelengths of the solar spectrum, effectively neutralize bacteria. Today we understand that UV-C, UV-B, and UV-A light spectrums have the power to kill not only bacteria but also viruses, fungi, and other pathogens by oxidizing proteins and lipids, leading to cell death. That science underlies ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI), a technique used across a number of industries, including food production.
Until recently, UV disinfection technology has relied on large, complicated, and expensive products. Today’s solutions, on the other hand, are not only more powerful than competitors’ products but also smaller, less expensive, and easier to use. Now, UV disinfection is a powerful tool that can increase any facility’s defenses through applications like ceiling-installed devices and even UV disinfection robots programmed to trace a designated route through a hospital’s halls. These products can be scheduled to run at certain times and utilize motion sensor shutoffs to avoid unnecessary human exposure to UV light, making them incredibly safe and low maintenance.