What is a Germicidal Light?

Jacob Queen
Jacob Queen
Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

A germicidal light uses ultraviolet radiation to kill germs and cleanse an area. In many cases, these lights are primarily used as an additional filtering measure in an air conditioning system, although there are also portable versions that can be taken from room to room. A germicidal light can additionally be used to generally wipe out all germs on a surface. Some doctors use these lights in this way during various surgical operations, where they have been effective in terms of reducing infections and speeding patient recovery.

Scientists have discovered that certain light wavelengths can be damaging to living organisms like bacteria. These wavelengths are generally ultraviolet, which means that people can’t see them. This technology is the basis behind the germicidal light.

One problem with these lights is that they can potentially damage a person’s skin and could possibly lead to skin cancers. For this reason, the lights are usually shielded in some way. For example, in a portable unit, air will be drawn into a boxed area, and the light will clean the air inside the box. There are some experts that question whether or not these lights can really cleanse the air in such a short amount of time, but proponents of the technology are adamant about the benefits.

The primary use for the germicidal light is to place it inside an air-conditioning system. This generally works well because air-conditioning vents serve as a central area where the air in a dwelling is constantly circulating. Air-conditioning systems are also notorious for being polluted with various bacterial colonies and molds. Many people believe that these pollutants are a primary cause of the allergic reactions people suffer on a daily basis, and they claim that a strategically-placed germicidal light is a great way to deal with this issue.

One of the uses for the germicidal light is as an antiseptic during surgeries. Doctors who've used the lights in this way have been able to show a marked reduction in the number of surgically-caused infections. Some doctors even claim a near total end to deaths from bacterial infection after operations. Patients have also been shown to heal more rapidly after operations held under the lights. One thing that keeps the germicidal lights from being widely adopted for this purpose is the dangers they pose to the doctors, who are generally forced to wear special protective gear while performing surgery.

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