Does UV Light Kill Mold? UV Air Purifier FAQs
If you’re one of the unlucky individuals who gets mold in their household every year during the rainy season like clockwork, it must be quite frustrating to look at the unappealing patches of mildew on your walls or corners – or worse, in your ventilation units.
Luckily, there are ways to rid yourself of mold once and for all and prevent the formation of mold patches at moist areas around your household. Since mold doesn’t only look like an eyesore, it can also be dangerous if you’re in contact with it for long periods. Ultraviolet light is one of the widely accepted solutions to mold and mildew – but how? And does ultraviolet light kill mold? Read on to understand how.
What Is Mold And Why Is It A Concern?
If you’ve often noticed a curious growth in the corners of your household during the rainy season, then it is most likely mold. Scientifically, mold refers to a concentration of small living beings that can come together and form a sort of fungus – which is what you notice in your home’s corners. These organisms thrive when there’s moisture around, which explains their formation usually during the rainy season.
They can be in a variety of colors and may be quite disgusting to look at – whether yellow, blue, black, green, white; or an amalgamation of all these at once. They’re helpful in outdoor spaces as they’re necessary for the disintegration of organisms belonging to the plant kingdom.
At home, however, not so much. They can pose serious health hazards such as respiratory issues if they’re allowed to spread unchecked. Luckily, there are ways to remove mold when it appears.
What Is UV Light?
You may have heard of UV Light before, but did you know that it is widely used to disinfect various substances? Owing to the scientific composition of Ultraviolet Light, the radiation from the same can be deadly to pathogens. In this context, UV Light can work wonders to obliterate mold in the quickest way possible.
While you may have been previously warned about the dangerous effects of being overexposed to UV light, it is quite harmless in small quantities – at least to humans. Very specific wavelengths are used for a myriad of purposes, which is why it is used in both household and medical contexts to disinfect surfaces and substances. For mold, for instance, an extremely short wavelength of UV light (called the UV-C) works wonders for removal.
Some Practical Applications of UV Light
While disinfection is the number one reason for the usage of UV light, there are several other areas where UV light can be extremely beneficial.
- Hygiene: since UV light makes short work of microorganisms, it’s safe to say that they help in bodily hygiene by permeating skin layers.
- Purifying water: UV light can work its way through and kill all the small lifeforms that may be contaminating the water.
- Curing coatings: UV light is also great for drying coatings and substances such as adhesives and resin.
- Tanning: it is used for expediting melanin production and thus helps in tanning of skin.
- Fluorescent inspection: UV light can be helpful in aiding in fluorescent inspection by spotting abrasions and such on any surface.
- Mold: Lastly, UV light is great for decontaminating any surface that has mold growing on it by effectively killing the microorganisms there.
Can Ultraviolet Light Really Kill Mold?
If you’re wondering “will UV light kill mold”, the simple answer is yes; UV light is great for killing and removing mold from any sources. In fact, most air purifier models for molds come with built-in UV light. It has been tried and tested in various environments that had been infested by a horde of pathogens – not only mold, but also bacteria and others.
This is why UV light is widely used in industrial settings such as hospitals and factories – as these are large scale operations that require maximum resistance to bacteria. UV light is usually placed in ventilation systems to kill mold that may be breeding in moist areas such as AC units.
Even though manual mold cleaners such as baking soda and vinegar and hydrogen peroxide work very well against mold infestation, UV light is more convenient and requires less effort. It may also be installed so as to ensure that you have a double layer of security against the harmful inhalants that mold usually brings with itself.
It may also be efficient in removing the microorganisms that have not yet colluded together to form large patches of mold – which may be missed out during manual mold removal. As we mentioned before, the short UV wavelength of UV-C can be fatal for microorganisms but not so much for humans.
How Does UV Light Kill Mold?
Now that you know the answer to “can UV light kill mold”, you should know about the extremely intriguing process through which UV light kills mold. While the straightforward answer is that it kills the microorganisms that come together to breed and form mold, the process by itself is not that simplistic.
We’ve talked about UV-C rays before – the wavelength of UV light that is very short and sends out radiation to instantly harm the microorganisms. It is most effect in the nanometer range of 255-280, as it is particularly potent then.
These rays are often called germicidal because of how well they act in making short work of germs and bacteria. Essentially, the UV-C rays penetrate the nucleic acid of the microorganisms and thus cause harm to the DNA of the same. Since the DNA of these entities is hampered and their DNA composition is changed by the radiation, the cells of these microorganisms then become disabled.
This makes them unable to function anymore – and since they cannot live furter and breed, they all die out sooner than later. Gradually, with the death of the cells, the mold too will be unable to sustain and disappear – something that cannot be achieved easily with manual mold removal.
How Effectively Do UV Air Purifiers Kill Mold?
While UV air purifiers may seem like an innovative creation that can continue to purify your air and get rid of pathogens in your household while working noiselessly in the background, it is important to see whether they actually work.
Theoretically, they may work by taking in surrounding air and then filtering it with UVGI (ultraviolet germicidal irradiation) technology while inside the purifier, which nullifies the existence of the bacterial formation.
However, most UV purifiers currently on the market do not reassure against the production of harmful ozone from the UV-C radiation, or whether bacteria is, for the most part, deactivated with the help of UV-C light. Besides, a UV light is an incomplete air purification apparatus on its own as there’s no mechanical filtration involved. Meaning, a UV air purifier can’t be given a MERV or a HEPA rating or even a CADR rating for that matter. This makes it a difficult task to actually gauge the efficiency of a UV air purifier.
Additionally, some bacteria and mold spores are extremely resistant to UV and require much stronger doses of UV-C radiation in order to be deactivated, and for much longer periods than what a commercial UV air purifier could offer you.
Verdict | Can You Rely On A UV Air Purifier To Aid You With A Mold Allergy?
Conclusively, as we’ve already established, UV air purifiers should only be trusted to deactivated patches of mold and bacteria when they meet a variety of criteria. For instance, they should not produce ozone and they should protect against volatile organic compounds as well.
There are very few that meet this criteria – so while UV air purifiers may help you with a mold allergy, you should certainly not rely on them solely. A thoughtful workaround here would be getting a HEPA-based air purifier for allergies that also has an optional UV light filtration stage. Visible patches of mold in your household can be removed best when cleaned manually with cleaners such as bleach – the UV air purifier may just be a supplemental measure here. They’re certainly better than just HEPA filters, since these do not account for organisms smaller than 0.1 microns.