What is UVC Light ?
UV-C is one of many electromagnetic frequencies emanating from the sun. Like other of these waveforms, its properties are unique to its wavelength. To synthesize this frequency, a glass tube is evacuated and refilled with argon at far below atmospheric pressure. Added to this is a small amount of mercury. When the mixture is energized (excited) it creates a glowing plasma of electrons that pass through the mercury vapor. As they strike mercury atoms, a mercury electron is liberated at a frequency representative of mercury’s spectral line, which is 253.7nm. The dominant emission (>90%) from these lamps is UV-C energy. The "C" frequency of the electromagnetic UV family has, amongst other things, germicidal effects. This was so important that Westinghouse quickly commercialized the low-pressure mercury vapor "germicidal" lamp in the early 1930's. Its humanitarian value has had worldwide success since.
How does if affect germs?
Microorganisms are simple organic structures that readily absorb the UV-C wavelength, causing photo-disassociation (destruction). A microbes DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid, is first to be adversely effected due to its weaker molecular bonds. In hundredths of a second it suffers irreparable damage. The subsequent loss of genetic instructions causes cell death and/or the inability to replicate, rendering them harmless. Continuous exposure causes uninterrupted degradation, such as the sun does, only significantly faster.
Does It Work?
Yes, scientific and anecdotal references abound for UV-C’s efficacy both in literature and in reports of field applications. Of the government reports, NIOSH, OSHA, CDC, GSA, EPA are the most notable. Science in the public forum comes from the University of Cincinnati, Tulsa University, University of Colorado and McGill University (Canada) to name a few. The two labs conducting independent testing and showing very favorable results are ARTI and Battelle. The list of prestigious field studies are too numerous to mention. UVC is used worldwide, more in other countries per capita than in the US. Much of this broader use is for the disinfection of drinking water and treatment of sewage in waste water treatment.