What are the Safety Considerations for UV-C?

Due to its high efficacy rate, ability to disinfect both surfaces and air without harmful chemical exposure, and minimal application time and effort, UV-C disinfection is quickly becoming the new frontier in the ongoing battle to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Schools, hotels, restaurants, sports teams, senior living facilities, and commercial real estate firms are implementing UV-C, a proven technology that has been trusted by hospitals for decades, to strengthen disinfection protocols and make their environments safer. While awareness around UV-C as a powerful germicidal agent is increasing, many are still hearing about it for the first time and typically ask: Is UV-C Safe? This article provides answers while giving an overview of essential safeguards your UV-C system should include. 

Is UV-C safe to use around people?

From facility directors to heads of operations, leaders tasked with evaluating UV-C systems want to know if UV-C is safe to use around people. UV-C is a powerful germicidal agent and can be harmful to human skin and eyes if operators are exposed to high doses of UV-C. Prolonged exposure can cause skin irritation, like a mild sunburn or in some cases acute retinal damage. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) publishes permissible exposure limits for UV-C light and it is clear that UV-C systems can only be used in unoccupied spaces.  

While operators should only run a UV-C cycle in an unoccupied space, it is safe for people to immediately re-enter that space following a disinfection cycle. When evaluating UV-C disinfection products, check for systems that include built-in safety mechanisms to minimize risk of UV-C exposure. 

Is UV-C safe to use in rooms with glass windows?

Yes. UV-C cannot penetrate glass, so you can run a disinfection cycle in rooms with windows without harming anyone or anything on the other side of the windows. 

 Is UV-C safe to use around food?

Yes. UV-C disinfects without the use of harmful chemicals or pesticides – so is safe to use around food, including kitchen and restaurant environments. Learn how restaurants are using UV-C disinfection

In addition to understanding the safety essentials about UV-C technology, the influx of UV-C products with different levels of safeguards makes it critical to select a UV-C system with advanced safety features.    

Meet Arc: a new level of holistic safety

Arc is the first hospital-grade UV-C disinfection system designed for the dynamic environments of modern organizations. Proven to destroy 99.99% of surface and airborne pathogens in a 1,000 ft2 room in just seven minutes, Arc is the most powerful, human-centric and adaptable UV-C system on the market.

Safety was a key consideration across the design process. As such, Arc has redundant safety mechanisms built-in to minimize risk and ensure virtually zero exposure. Safety features include: 

  • A 30-second pre-cycle countdown allows operators to leave the room safely before a cycle begins.
  • A pulsing light halo at the top of the device provides a visual warning that a cycle is about to begin.
  • Four long-range PIR sensors with 360° of visibility automatically shut Arc down to prevent exposure if a person enters a room during a cycle.

In addition to the product’s built-in safety features, every unit includes bilingual warning signs for operators to post at all entrances of a room – providing an additional layer of caution for teams. As part of our holistic approach to safety, R-Zero also conducts hands-on training to ensure teams operate Arc safely and effectively. 

At R-Zero, we’re committed to making the best hospital-grade disinfection technologies accessible to all organizations, and sharing information to help evolve your infection prevention strategies. Please contact us at sales@rzerosystems.com


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