KUALA LUMPUR, July 10 — As the Covid-19 pandemic continues into its second year, Malaysians looking for effective means to keep themselves and their families safe have an abundance of disinfection tools to choose from.
The virus has evolved, and along with it, best practices to curb infections.
In May, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recognised airborne transmission as a primary mode of transmission for SARS-CoV-2 — the virus responsible for the Covid-19 disease.
This caused experts worldwide to prompt an update in the way we handle disinfection which mostly focused on disinfecting surfaces instead of the air.
With the demand for appliances to wholly disinfect spaces increasing, manufacturing companies have responded with products such as specialised air purifiers and UVC lamps.
Here we take a look at UVC lamps, which have also been known as “germicidal” lamps.
UVC is not a new technology, and according to the US’ Food and Drug Administrations (FDA) it has been used effectively for decades to reduce the transmission of bacteria, such as tuberculosis.
The FDA also states that UVC is a known disinfectant for air, water, and nonporous surfaces — such as metal, glass, and wood.
Esmond Tsang, country commercial leader of Signify Malaysia — formerly Philips Lighting — recently spoke to the Malay Mail on how this technology is being harnessed for the use of everyday Malaysians in the fight against Covid-19.
He said that Signify-sponsored research at Boston University showed that exposing SARS-CoV-2 to UVC radiation under laboratory settings, showed that the virus could be “inactivated” within nine seconds.
“The UVC radiation destroys the DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid) and RNA (ribonucleic acid) of SARS-CoV-2, making it unable to reproduce or cause damage to anybody,” he said.
“Once this was established in laboratory settings, the intensity and the length of time of UVC exposure needed to accurately disinfect various spaces was calculated,” he said.
Tsang said that spaces of five square metres, such as bathrooms, only needed 15 minutes for “full disinfection”, while larger spaces such as living rooms could require up to 45 minutes.
“One misconception is that UVC light works only on surfaces such as on floors, walls and tabletops, but that’s not true. Whatever the light can shine through will be disinfected, including the air,” he stressed.
However, the effectiveness of these UVC lamps also poses health risks if they do not include the proper safety features.
“Long-time exposure under UVC is dangerous, meaning it will also kill skin cells or damage retinae,” said Tsang.
He assured that Signify had implemented features in its UVC lamp product to make it “foolproof”
According to Tsang, this includes a voice guide that verbally repeats every selection a user makes, along with a countdown timer designed to warn users to leave the room along with their pets.
“Don’t forget your goldfish,” Tsang quipped.
He added that the product came with a motion sensor which would detect movement within a radius of five metres, stopping the disinfection process, which can only be restarted manually.
Tsang added that Signify’s UVC disinfection products were already in use in several Covid-19 vaccination centres in Malaysia, and that more products are in the line to cater to specific needs such as disinfecting children’s toys or smartphones.
He also stressed that the UVC lamp is meant to be a complementary product, and is not meant to replace other best practices and tools such as sanitisers, disinfectant sprays or even washing hands soap and water.