UV Light or Chlorine: Which Is a Better Disinfectant?

11 May 2020
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Whether it’s for commercial or domestic purposes, it’s crucial to select the right disinfectant. Chlorine and bleach are common yet UV light is gaining increasing popularity due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Viruses, bacteria, and pathogens like giardia, cryptosporidium, and E. Coli can’t be seen, smelled, or tasted. Yet, they can lurk in some unexpected areas of our homes and can affect our health as well as that of your loved ones.

Let’s take a look at UV light and chlorine and find out which of the two is more effective.

How Do UV Light and Chlorine Kill Pathogens?

While disinfectants have the common goal of killing germs, the mechanisms of them doing so can be different.

The most common chemical in chlorine is sodium hypochlorite, a powerful agent found in household bleach. The agent reacts with water to form hypochlorous acid, which breaks down organic matter.

While chlorine interacts with the bacterial cell protein to oxidize it, UV light changes the structure of the DNA and RNA, stopping the bacterial cells from replicating correctly.

In both cases, disinfectants cause bacterial cells to become nonfunctional.

What to Consider When Choosing Between UV Light and Chlorine?

Ultraviolet light and chlorine come with their own set of strengths and limitations. Let’s examine them in four categories:

1. Safety

While chlorine is the most common disinfectant used to treat water, it comes with a price. During chlorination, chlorine may react with naturally occurring elements and form unhealthy byproduct toxins called Trihalomethanes (THMs), which can be damaging to our health.

While controlled amounts of chlorine are not harmful, drinking chlorinated water for a long duration of time can cause a build-up in the body.

On the other hand, UVC light is an effective alternative to chemical disinfectants. It is also used in water treatment plants.

UVC light does not use heat or chemical additives during the cleaning process. As a result, no chemical byproduct, chlorine residue, or bad taste remains in the water. As long as your light source emits the right wavelength and you use it for the right duration of time, once it comes into contact with the microorganisms, it’s enough to inactivate them.

And the best part?

You don’t have to worry about the accidental release of hazardous chemicals. Moreover, UV light creates less waste than, for instance, cleaning wipes or empty plastic containers; therefore, it’s a greener alternative.

Having said that, UV disinfection equipment must be handled carefully. Since UVC light can damage DNA and RNA causing bacteria cells die, imagine the consequences the ray can have on our sensitive skin.

Exposure to UVC light without inadequate gloves, clothing, and masks can put you at risk for skin cancer and cataract.

2. Effectiveness

UVC light disinfection and chlorine are both reliable sources to protect you against bacteria, viruses, and pathogens. However, certain pathogens such as cryptosporidium and giardia are chlorine-resistant but can be killed by UV light treatment. UV light can destroy up to 99,99% of all harmful microorganisms. While chlorine needs at least 30 minutes to work, UV light works instantly.

From an industrial point of view, one factor to bear in mind is that chlorine works more efficiently in cloudy and/or dirty water. Therefore, UV light is the most effective in conjunction with a filtration system so that inorganic contaminants and heavy metals are removed from the water.

3. Maintenance

For equipment to last long, we need to take proper care of it. Wolven’s UV handheld cleanser requires virtually no maintenance. Depending on the usage, you’ll need to change the bulb once every 5-10 years, and you need to charge it or operate it using the charger.

To give you a reference, the energy used by the device is equivalent to running an 11-watt light bulb.

4. Cost

Wolven’s handheld UV cleanser costs $250. As mentioned in the ‘maintenance’ section, you’ll need to change its bulb only every 5-10 years.

Assuming that you need to change the bulb every five years, Wolven’s handheld UV cleanser will cost you only $4.16 a month! If you consider the costs involved in buying gloves, apron, hand towels, and other cleaning tools over the next 5-10 years, you’ll realize that despite the initial cost, in the long term, the lifecycle of a UV disinfection is longer and more cost-effective.

Final Words

With any disinfecting solution, planning and fully understanding the processes is vital. However, we’re sure that once utilities and homes become aware of the many benefits that UV light brings with itself, it will be recognized as the preferred disinfection method.

Check out the upcoming technology we have addressing this issue.

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