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What is Ultraviolet Disinfection?

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  • Written By: Felicia Dye
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 09 January 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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Ultraviolet (UV) disinfection is a method that can be used to decontaminate drinking water. Using UV light, radiation is produced that can kill threatening microorganisms. If the level of radiation is properly concentrated in a body of water, disinfection can occur in seconds. This disinfection method can be appreciated for its low costs and simplicity. Factors such as large amounts of suspended waste and unreliable power sources, however, can render the method unsuitable.

Ultraviolet disinfection has been used for decades, and it is usually considered safe, reliable, and effective. These disinfection systems are used based on the fact that UV light has been found to have the ability to destroy bacteria and viruses. The process begins with light that is produced by a special lamp that emits a broad spectrum of radiation.

This radiation can effectively kill viruses and bacteria by causing sterilizing disruptions to the cells of those organisms. It is important, therefore, to make sure that microorganisms are exposed to high enough levels of radiation. As such, the water quality plays a major role in determining the concentration that is needed.

One benefit of using this process is that it does not alter the mineral content in the water. There are numerous other advantages attributed to ultraviolet disinfection, however. Several of these are financial. To begin with, a system that uses this type of technology is generally inexpensive to install when compared to other sorts of disinfection systems. The cost of maintaining the ultraviolet system is also commonly regarded as favorable because it typically requires minimal labor to maintain. Furthermore, such systems generally have low operation and repair costs.

Ultraviolet disinfection also does not use chemicals. This results in an advantage over many other means of water treatment because issues such as trace odors and tastes that result from additives do not need to be addressed. On the contrary, it has been noted that due to the eradication of certain pollutants taste may be improved by ultraviolet disinfection. These UV systems are also more appealing to individuals with environmental concerns because toxic by-products and emissions are not produced.

Despite this, ultraviolet disinfection is not always suitable. Turbidity, or foggy water, is one circumstance which has been found to impair the effectiveness of this method. The reason is that the UV light can have difficulty completely penetrating water in this condition. Large amounts of suspended solids also pose problems in these types of disinfection systems because such materials can act as a barrier between the UV light and microorganisms.

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