Our clinical team is regularly asked about UV disinfection and the claims people evaluating them have read or heard about different UV products. It can be confusing and you may find yourself wondering what you should believe. There is a lot of misleading information out there.
Today, we’re going to share 6 of the most common myths we hear from people evaluating UV technology for healthcare facilities and offer some guidance for filtering out fact from fiction.
1. All UV products work the same.
There is a thread of truth in this statement. If you’re talking about UV products with long, glowing bulbs, they all use a mercury bulb to generate UV light continuously at 254 nm. They are generating the same light at the same wavelength.
However, LightStrike robots use a xenon lamp to create bursts of intense, broad spectrum UV light (wavelengths from 200 to 315 nm). The light is 4300x more intense in peak power than those mercury UV products1. The intensity and range of UV light wavelengths are what allows LightStrike to quickly (as little as 2-5 minute cycles, depending on pathogen) and effectively destroy viruses, bacteria, and spores where they are most susceptible. It is fundamentally different from those mercury bulbs.
2. You can disinfect a room with UV light from one position.
This statement defies the law of physics. The intensity of UV light decreases the further away it is from the source. Not to mention, items in the room create shadows the light won’t reach for proper disinfection (think about your shadow on the pavement).
Can you disinfect with UV from one position? Sure, you can but because of the law of physics, Xenex always recommends our validated best practice of one position on either side of a patient bed. We do not rely on the reflectivity of surfaces in a room because we want to ensure adequate UV light hits shadowed areas and that high-touch items, like phone receivers or remotes, are flipped over between cycles.
3. UV disinfection adds too much time to room cleaning.
The time allotted to turn hospital rooms is tight and we know it can get stressful when hospital census is high. UV disinfection times can vary greatly depending on the product you’re using and the pathogen you’re concerned about. That’s why it is critical to obtain peer reviewed, published research on cycle times and pathogen deactivation for that specific UV product. Confirm that the research has been published in a respected journal (not a case study or customer testimonial, for example)
Disinfection with LightStrike is possible with minimal downtime. LightStrike’s vegetative cycles are as little as 2 minutes and only 5 minutes for spores like C. diff while other UV disinfection products can take up to 52 minutes when disinfecting for C. diff2.
4. UV disinfection products are cost prohibitive.
There’s a wide range of pricing and only a few UV products offer consultative product/warranty services that help manage the success of your disinfection program. Cycle times can also be a predictor of cost when you look at how many rooms you can reasonably disinfect in a day (2, 3, 5, or 25 for example). The volume of rooms disinfected will drive your cost per room disinfection price. Longer cycle times will lead to fewer rooms disinfected, and a higher per-room cost. LightStirke’s disinfection cycles are as low as $1.003.
5. UV Light damages/degrades surfaces and equipment.
Just like liquid chemicals, some UV products cause more damage to surfaces than others do. LightStrike has been proven to not harm surfaces like narrow spectrum Mercury UV bulbs do4.
6. Autonomous UV devices will free up staff.
Autonomous doesn’t mean humanless. Even with autonomous products, the operator must be present during the disinfection cycle. Autonomous UV operators have to follow safety protocols, including opening the door, completing safety checks, and pushing the start button for each disinfection3. Autonomy does not improve disinfection efficacy. The published disinfection cycle times for the typical narrow spectrum mercury-based lamp still apply (an average of 52 min for a C. diff cycle2). You will also want to understand how long the battery lasts and how long it takes to fully charge the battery. The most common autonomous product can take 6-12 hours to charge based on whether it is docked or using a manual charger5.
There are some simple steps you can take to help understand if the claims you’re hearing are true or misinformation: Validate the product claims in peer-reviewed, scientific journals, know the right questions to ask, and request customer references. Visit us at xenex.com to learn more.
1) Based on Xenex testing of Xenex’s Pulsed Xenon lamp peak power and the Phillips TUV 325 HO XPT SE Mercury bulb
2) Anderson DJ, et al. The Lancet. 2017 Feb 25; 389 (10071): 805-14
3) Data on file
4) Data on file
5) UVD Robot Model B User Manual, English Version 2.1, April 2022