Ultraviolet Sterilization – Kills Bacteria and Viruses

With the COVID-19 pandemic causing widespread fear and panic, more people are looking for ways to disinfect their homes. From robots that zap operating rooms to wands you can wave over your sketchy hotel sheets, there are plenty of gadgets on the market that promise to kill viruses and bacteria.


Kills Viruses and Bacteria

UV light destroys viruses and bacteria by damaging their DNA. Viruses and bacteria cannot replicate without DNA, so eradicating their genetic material disables them from functioning or spreading disease. The ultraviolet rays from an ultra violet sterilizer pierce the DNA of the microorganism and create pyrimidine dimers that cause adjacent thymine or cytosine bases to bond together instead of across the double helix as they normally would. These pyrimidine dimers are so destructive to the DNA that the organism is unable to function or spread disease.

Unlike chemical disinfectants that are often ineffective against certain types of viruses and bacteria, UVC light effectively kills or inactivates all recognized biological organisms. This includes hard-to-treat viruses like enteroviruses and bacteriophages, as well as E Coli, Salmonella, Pseudomonas aeruginosa (including vancomycin resistant strains), staphylococcus aureus, streptococcus pyogenes and Clostridium perfringens.

Using a UV sterilization device is also environmentally friendly, as there are no harmful byproducts created during the disinfection process. Furthermore, UV sterilization devices are easy to maintain, with the only ongoing maintenance required being annual system checks and lamp replacement. This makes it an excellent option for businesses looking to disinfect surfaces, water and air in one step, while cutting down on time and money spent on other disinfection methods. Our engineers will recommend the best UVC sterilizers for your application based on the wavelength, irradiance and fluence you need.

Destroys Algae

It’s not just bacteria and parasites that UV sterilizers kill – they also destroy algae, the pesky aquatic microorganism that gives aquarists so much grief when it comes to maintaining a beautiful reef aquarium. Algae can be the root of many problems, from cloudy water to nutrient buildup, and it’s best to keep the level low in order to maintain a healthy tank.

The way a UV sterilizer does this is by targeting the DNA of the organism. Basically, the UV light pierces the cell’s DNA and causes adjacent thymine and cytosine bases to bond together instead of across the DNA double helix, rendering the organism unable to replicate and spread disease. This is why you’ll find UV sterilizers used in a multitude of food applications, including food packaging materials, conveyor belts, working surfaces and liquid-sugar tanks.

As far as home use is concerned, a UV sterilizer can be used in conjunction with a biological filter to help with the cycle of a new tank and improve overall water quality in existing aquariums by destroying free-swimming cyanobacteria and dinoflagellates. It won’t, however, damage the beneficial bacteria that are established in rocks, sand and glass of your tank or affect plants.

Other factors that influence UV sterilizer performance include water turbidity (increased turbidity decreases penetration) and the cleanliness of the lamp sleeve and lens (mineral deposits reduce effectiveness). Using a UV sterilizer alongside good husbandry practices will greatly decrease your chances of having an outbreak of any unwanted pathogen, but it won’t eliminate them 100%.

Kills Parasites

UV radiation inactivates microorganisms by damaging their DNA. This destroys the ability to reproduce, and renders them unable to spread disease. This germicidal action is effective at instantly sterilizing an extensive list of pathogenic organisms including bacteria, viruses and protozoans. It has been proven to be more efficient than chlorine based disinfection at killing Cryptosporidium and Giardia, two harmful parasites that can cause severe intestinal diseases in humans.

Unlike chlorine dioxide, UV does not leave any residual effects and can kill viruses, bacteria and parasites at very low doses. This means it is safe to use in aquariums and for drinking water.

A UV sterilizer is also an excellent choice for removing excess algae, which are the green slime that forms on aquarium surfaces and can be unsightly and affect fish health. This helps to keep water clear and bright, and eliminates the need for expensive algae control products.

Portable, battery-operated devices are available that will sterilize small amounts of clear water in minutes. A more powerful device can sterilize a full aquarium tank in about the same time, depending on the size of the tank and the strength of the bulb used. For best results, place the sterilizer after your mechanical and biological filters to ensure that all microorganisms are exposed to the UV light. You should also ensure that the bulb is clean and sleeve is free of mineral deposits, which can shield some microorganisms from being killed by the UV light.

Destroys Bacteria

Similar to chemical or physical disinfectants, UV light is capable of killing bacteria in the air and on surfaces. However, bacterial inactivation is dependent upon the wavelength of the UV radiation used and the type of microbe targeted. Additionally, dissolved organic matter and suspended particulate matter can absorb or shield UV radiation, decreasing inactivation.

The UV rays emitted by UV sterilization systems penetrate disease-causing organisms, damaging their DNA. Damaged DNA renders an organism unable to reproduce, effectively eliminating the germ population.

Unlike chemical disinfectants that require a specific concentration, contact time and temperature to kill or inactivate a particular pathogen, UV sterilization can be performed on-demand. This ability also reduces the risk of harmful chemical residues being left behind.

Violet Defense’s unique system uses a combination of different wavelengths of UV light to maximize microbial inactivation. Using both UVA and UVB wavelengths allows for maximum exposure, while also inhibiting photo-reactivation (the process by which damaged cells can repair themselves). UV radiation can be used to inactivate all types of bacteria and other microorganisms including yeast, viruses, fungi, algae and spores. For this reason, UV sterilization is often used in restaurants to disinfect working surfaces and food storage containers as well as in water treatment applications such as CIP and wastewater treatment. It is even used to treat liquid sugar tanks to keep them free of mold and fungus.