UV Lighting Combating Viruses and the Need for Duct Cleaning to be Done at the Same Time

3/28/2022 | Michael D. Vinick, ASCS, CVI, President - Duct & Vent Cleaning of America, Inc. Past President - NADCA

UV lighting in the form of UVC lamps is a hot topic that we are seeing applied in many instances to fight the transmission of Covid-19. There have been many studies performed as to the efficacy of UV light. UV lights have been proven to reduce the spread of bacteria like Tuberculosis. As of now, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has not conclusively found evidence to support UV light will neutralize or “kill” Covid-19. UV light does however destroy the outer coating of the SARS Coronavirus which is different than what we are fighting in Covid-19. This unknown is being factored into the chance that UV lighting may be one formidable way to fight Covid-19.
A major challenge that we face with UV light is that it needs to be directly exposed to the bacteria that it is fighting. The inactivation of viruses on surfaces like dust can inhibit the ability of UV light to inactivate the virus as dust may block the virus’s direct exposure to the UV light. There is also the question on the length of time that a virus needs to be exposed to the UV light to provide inactivation of the virus.
UVC radiation, which is created with the UV lamp, is commonly used inside of air ducts to combat viruses and disinfect the air. This chosen location within a facility is logical and avoids humans from having direct exposure to the radiation which would cause injuries to an exposed persons eyes and skin. While UV light is being used, the other important aspect is if the virus is being exposed to it long enough.
If the virus is traveling within dust particles through the ductwork and it is not being exposed to the UVC lamp long enough as a result of the air flowing at a rapid CFM rate of speed, there is a chance that the intention of the UV lamp will not fulfill the desired results. The most common use for UV light is to inactivate mold and stop it from building up on coils within the HVAC system. When the UV light is mounted directly for constant exposure of the UVC radiation onto the coil it will increase the intended result and neutralize most mold, bacteria and viruses.
To increase the probability of the virus being inactivated, ensure that the fresh outside air and
recirculated air which may contain the virus, is traveling through clean HVAC components and ductwork. Time and again our company is called to clean ductwork during a UVC Lamp installation to ensure that the odds are increased in killing the virus that it is intended to kill. The coil also should be cleaned to ensure that the debris accumulated on the coil is not interfering with the intended purpose of the UV light. Cleaning will also help immeasurably with the coil function.

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