October 19, 2022
By Greg McKee, Director of Marketing and Product Marketing Manager at Labsphere, Inc.
UV-C is a category of ultraviolet light with wavelengths between 100-280 nm and is the most effective UV light for disinfection. Germicidal Ultraviolet Irradiation (GUVI) is a proven methodology for inactivating viruses on solid surfaces, in water, and in the air. UV-C technology has found many valuable applications, for example in disinfecting hospital rooms, aircraft, and drinking water. As such, it is expected to continue to be a useful tool in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and future outbreaks.
With the pandemic helping to intensify challenges in air and surface disinfection systems, the 2022 IUVA Americas Conference was both timely and relevant. Industry leaders, Government and Regulatory Bodies, Standards Organizations, Scientists, and Physicians gathered and participated in the 4-day event, which covered UV-C technology, standards, light sources, sensors, challenges, and concerns.
The first day of the conference began with workshops on the fundamentals of the GUVI process and equipment validation. The next two days were a dual-track program covering many of the subjects mentioned above leading up to the fourth day, which I found most valuable. The fourth day was a special interactive panel session that discussed the latest trends in GUVI for healthcare. This session featured invited speakers to provide relevant perspectives from key stakeholders across the board, updates on infectious disease, and dialogue on GUVI sources and devices in the context of germicidal applications, the most pressing issues right now, and the most important goals for the next 10 years.
My Key Takeaways from the Conference
There was common agreement in the community that there is a need for clear guidelines and standards for air and surface.
There is a lot of activity in this area including, but not limited to, ANSI/IES, ASHRAE, and IEC. There is much work that has been done and still much more to be done, but we can expect to continue to see new standards and recommended methods for test and validation in the coming years. This not only includes testing and test methods, but also guidelines for educating the workforce that performs installations and provides maintenance.
There is a need for educating the public on the benefits of GUVI.
There is a public stigma that all UV light is bad and should be avoided. Yes, for UV wavelengths above 250 nm, care should be taken to not expose the human skin and eyes. However, GUVI is very effective in deactivating pathogens and viruses. The public needs to be educated on why GUVI is right for infection control, making public spaces healthier, protecting society, and achieving economic benefits. This leads me to my next takeaway.
There is a need for more collaboration between health organizations, regulation bodies, and industry.
We need to demonstrate the technology and effectiveness, we need to develop a more complete understanding of the role of GUVI disinfection and the health of the public, we need to understand the role of the government at the federal, state, and local levels, we need more guidance from the healthcare professional organizations… These were just a few of the comments and threads related to collaboration. Just having common views and concerns, which I witnessed here, is a start for collaboration. I believe this is why this IUVA Conference had its largest attendance in IUVA’s history from Industry leaders, Government and Regulatory bodies, Standards Organizations, and Scientists and Physicians who are getting together to bring light to the challenges, and for the majority, would like to see GUVI implemented effectively and safely.
The future is bright!
Over the coming years, there are visions of a paradigm shift from optional disinfection technologies to standards for infection prevention. There will be new source technologies with greater efficiencies. We’ll see sensor implementation for real-time proof and validation of surface and air deactivation levels. We will see innovations in building and structure design for pathogen sensors, advanced materials, and air disinfection. We’ll have sound, widely accepted regulations, supported by standards and test methods for determining efficiency, safety, and performance validation and product labeling. Finally, all these developments and more will be leveraged to create a framework that will allow us to address the next challenge more efficiently and timely.
GUVI for air and surface disinfection is not new to those in the industry, particularly in hospital settings where disinfection is critical. However, it took a pandemic for the masses to understand the costs to human lives and the economy from infections from surfaces and airborne viruses. Now humankind is stepping up to the challenge. History has shown with disruption comes innovation. Companies, Government, and Health organizations will need to transition and collaborate to grow. This conference showed we are making great strides in this direction.
About the author
Author Greg McKee is the Director of Marketing and Product Marketing Manager at Labsphere, Inc. Over his career he has driven growth and innovation as VP of Engineering, Business Unit General Manager, and Chief Technologist. He has contributed to several patents, and numerous publications, and has held leadership positions on industry standards boards and work groups. Greg is a frequent speaker or presenter at industry events and enjoys networking with colleagues and contributing to technological advancements using light to measure, create, and reflect.