[COLUMN] UVC destroys viruses 

ONE of the great advances in medical science is the discovery that Ultraviolet C (UVC) rays effectively kill bacteria, and neutralize viruses, fungi and molds. This has led to the introduction of UVC lamps for cleaning and sterilization of medical/dental instruments and accessories. The expanded use was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to include sterilizing food items, baby pacifier, bibs, utensils, cups, toys, toothbrush, nail cutters, etc., even cell phones, headsets, and earbuds, chargers, cords, CPAP masks and tubing.

How long does it take to sterilize?

Disinfection using UV light is called ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI), which has been found to have very effective killing power against a broad spectrum of bacteria. Viruses, fungi, and spores require repeated treatments, perhaps 15 minutes instead of 5 minutes, the standard time of irradiation it takes to kill bacteria.

What are the common types of UV rays?

The 3 spectra of UV wavelength are: UV-A (320 to 400 nm), UV-B (280-320 nm), and UV-C (200-280 nm). UV-C has the strongest germicidal power and popularly used as mercury lamps to inactivate microorganisms in food items, your baby’s eating utensils, bibs and pacifier, CPAP masks and tubing, medical/dental instruments, toothbrushes, combs, shavers, hair curlers, jewelries, watches, keys, cellphones, headsets, earbuds, paper money and coins, and practically anything that fits into the UV-C sterilizer bag or box.

How does UV-C light kill microbes?

The UV-C rays inactivate/kill microorganisms by destroying their nucleic acid and disrupting their DNA, disabling their vital cellular function and ability to replicate. And all it takes is between one 5-exposure for bacteria, and three 5-minute exposures for viruses, fungi, and molds. This same UV-C light is used to disinfect and sanitize our drinking water and food items (meats, especially chicken, fruits, vegetables, and seafood) as a standard safety procedure in the United States and other countries in the world.

Could these UV-C lamps sterilize a room?

Yes, UV-C lamps can sterilize an entire room, and routinely used daily to sterilize hospital operating rooms, ICU and individual rooms to reduce HAI (hospital acquired infections) which victimize some 2 million patients every year, with an estimated death of 90,000 as a result. In the past two decades, there was an increase of 36 percent of HAI in the U.S., with an economic burden up to $45 billion a year. The latest advancement for this type of sterilization is the robot sterilizer technology, also using UV-C lamps, for all rooms in the hospital.

Is UV-C light safe?

Used properly, UV-C lamps or irradiation is safe for humans and animals. As long as the UV-C rays do not hit the eyes or the skin, no injury will result from its use. This is why UV-C lamps are self-contained in a zippered tote, bag or ocked box, thus preventing any leak of rays. They are turned on only after the container lid is zipped or the sterilizer door is closed securely. As for the UV-C sterilization in the operating room and all other rooms, the area is sealed to prevent exposure to people, with signs indicating the room is being sanitized and warning that UV sterilizer lamps are turned on and dangerous to the eyes and the skin.

What blocks UV rays?

Most any solid material, like cardboard, aluminum foil, wood, concrete, etc. block UV rays. If you do not see any UV light at all, it means the rays are effectively blocked. Dark eyeglasses do not totally block UV lights.

How much microbes are in our home?

It is mind-boggling but there are trillions of microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, fungi, molds, algae, protozoa) in every home, no matter how we clean it in the conventional way. Indeed, there are more microbes in one home than all humans (8.1 billion, the current world population) in the galaxy. While not all of them are pathogens, a significant number of them can cause illnesses of varying degrees, some silent infections, resulting in continuous inflammation in our body system we do not even know or sense. This inflammation increases our risk for the development or aggravation of cardiovascular, pulmonary, or metabolic illnesses, Alzheimer’s, and even cancer. Any form of inflammation in us is the enemy of our body, negatively impacting our immune system. Besides microbes, stress, tobacco, vaping (e-cigs), alcohol, lack of exercise, loneliness, and/or bitterness can also cause inflammation within us.

Could UV-C lamps be useful at home?

Do a due diligence on this subject and discuss it with your physician about the benefit of adding this sterilization method in sanitizing your home to prevent illnesses in your household, by eliminating or minimizing viruses (colds, herpes simplex) bacteria, fungi and molds through UV-C sterilization. The home UV-C sterilization bag (about 8x10x8) emits no ozone and could be used to sterilize almost any item at home (baby’s food utensils, bibs, pacifiers, toothbrush, etc.), following the accompanying instructions on safe handling of this sterilizer. The UV-C bulbs last for about 9,000 to 12,000 hours use, roughly one year. This small portable collapsible (for travel) bag sanitizer is available at a discounted price on Amazon. For more info, send email to [email protected].

When was UV sterilization first used?

UV light has been used for more than 5 decades by the food manufacturing industry with excellent effectiveness, preventing illnesses and deaths from ingestion of infected food items. Actually, the first use of UV-C as germicidal agent was in the late 1800s and it has been utilized for sanitizing drinking water and food items for 219 years now. The method, which is effective against E. coli, Salmonella, Listeria and other foodborne pathogens in meats, vegetables, fruits, etc., also helps preserve food items longer. It is a legal requirement for the food industry to follow the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) controls, using UV-C as an acceptable method. It is clear that the UV-C sterilization method for CPAP masks and tubing, food items, and practically any item is most effective and safe in our fight against infection, even in our home.

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The main objective of this column is to educate and inspire people live a healthier lifestyle to prevent illnesses and disabilities and achieve a happier and more productive life. Any diagnosis, recommendation or treatment in our article are general medical information and not intended to be applicable or appropriate for anyone. This column is not a substitute for your physician, who knows your condition well and who is your best ally when it comes to your health.

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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.

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Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, a Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus based in Northwest Indiana and Las Vegas, Nevada, is an international medical lecturer/author, Health Advocate, newspaper columnist, and Chairman of the Filipino United Network-USA, a 501(c)3 humanitarian foundation in the United States. He was a recipient of the Indiana Sagamore of the Wabash Award in 1995, conferred by then Indiana Governor, later Senator, and then presidential candidate, Evan Bayh. Other Sagamore past awardees include President Harry Truman, President George HW Bush, Muhammad Ali, David Letterman, and Astronaut Gus Grissom (Wikipedia). Websites: FUN8888.com, Today.SPSAtoday.com, and philipSchua.com; Email: [email protected].




Dr. Philip S. Chua

Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus in Northwest Indiana and chairman of cardiac surgery from 1997 to 2010 at Cebu Doctors University Hospital, where he holds the title of Physician Emeritus in Surgery, is based in Las Vegas, Nevada. He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, the Philippine College of Surgeons, and the Denton A. Cooley Cardiovascular Surgical Society. He is the chairman of the Filipino United Network – USA, a 501(c)(3) humanitarian foundation in the United States.

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