Brought to you by Bill Moten
LEDG Smart Buildings Practice Leader
and Reopening Solutions Technology Specialist
When we started hearing about COVID-19, the first thing we learned was how to wash our hands for 20 seconds. We quickly discovered that we have been doing it wrong our whole lives. We also learned that the percentage of alcohol in hand sanitizer needs to be at least 60% to be effective. The CDC made it very clear that cleanliness is paramount to staying safe and secure and needs to part of safe building reopening.
When it comes to our workspace, ensuring a clean and safe space can be a challenge. Here is a quick look at the three levels of cleanliness:
- Cleaning removes dust, debris, and dirt from a surface by scrubbing, washing, and rinsing.
- Sanitizing reduces the bacteria on surfaces.
- Disinfecting destroys or inactivates both bacteria and viruses.
We are going for #3. The low tech disinfecting process is to use powerful chemicals that need to be carefully handled and stored. These disinfecting chemicals require a soak time and a long list of precautions that can be found on the CDC website, including the wearing of skin and eye protection, having adequate ventilation, avoid mixing chemicals, and more. It’s a good idea to train personnel on how to use these chemicals or hire specialists to conduct the chemical disinfecting.
Ultraviolet (UV) lighting is the next phase of smart disinfecting. While UV disinfecting solutions do not replace manual disinfecting, it can reduce the amount and intensity of the chemicals used and is an excellent solution for organizations concerned about exposing patients, students, and the workforce to too many chemicals in the effort to combat COVID-19. Broad-spectrum UV light, including germicidal UV-C, UV-B, and anti-bacterial UV-A, is optimal for germ-killing efficiency on both surfaces and airborne particles.
The critical characteristics of these frequency bands are that UV-A and UV-B light induces oxidation of proteins and lipids, causing cell death. At the same time, UV-C can kill bacteria, viruses, mold, and fungus. Studies of broad-spectrum UV light disinfecting solutions have proved to rapidly kill up to 99.9% of Norovirus, C. diff, E. coli, Salmonella, MRSA, and C. auris. Per the EPA emerging pathogen guidelines and based on clinical testing completed, these broad-spectrum UV lights have efficacy against Class 2 and 3 viruses, including coronaviruses, SARS, Influenza, and Ebola.
UV light disinfection has been widely used and proven effective in hospitals and air handling units (AHU) for many years. New broad-spectrum UV technology like Violet Defense™, is a breakthrough for UV disinfection and used in solutions by PURO. It uses a pulse technology that pulses UV light every six seconds and provides more comprehensive coverage than a typical directional UV lamp. This pulse technology uses the reflective properties of the room to disinfect under tables and chairs, doorknobs, etc.
What makes it smart? Because UV light exposure is not safe for people, PURO has built-in motion detection to ensure that the UV disinfecting operation stops when people or animals are present. The devices can also be operated manually or programmed to turn on/off at a set time. Mobile solutions can be shared across the workspace, and fixed installations can be installed in the ceiling or on the walls. The fixed units can also be integrated into a building management system (BMS) or building automation system (BAS) for a truly automated disinfection process enabling record-keeping for reporting, auditing, and proof of completion.
Applications for UV disinfecting have expanded beyond the traditional hospital, healthcare, and AHU use cases. Today, UV disinfection has expanded to additional organizations, including government, industrial, retail, athletic, hospitality, transit, education, and others, to disinfect their facilities and vehicles. Fix solutions work great in office and industrial environments where large areas need to be disinfected overnight when no one is there. Mobile solutions are great for applications where there are rooms that can share the unit, such as medical treatment rooms, hotel rooms, and transportation – trains, busses, subway cars, cargo vans, and more.
Thanks to new UV technologies like Violet Defense™ used by PURO lighting, areas can be disinfected in 30 minutes or less. Elevators can be disinfected when no one is riding, doctor’s treatment rooms can be disinfected between patients, and workspaces disinfected overnight to provide a safe and secure environment for workers when they arrive in the morning.