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Lamps in UV Disinfection Systems Need Attention

At recent visit to the AHR Expo, the massive annual gathering of HVACR professionals, Building Operating Management editors talked to dozens of manufacturers and attendees. One tip that stuck with me: If you use UV disinfection systems, don’t assume that just because the lights are burning blue that all is well. Ultraviolet lamps have been deployed for years to sanitize rooms in hospitals or to wipe out the biofilm that can accumulate on cooling coils.  The germ-fighting UV-C rays that are emitted come from vaporized mercury, but the blue visible light comes from argon plasma in the tube. Because germicidal effectiveness diminishes over time, with even high-quality lamps found emitting only 80 percent of their original germicidal output at the end of one year, “blue” does not mean go. For maximum germicidal effectiveness, a lamp monitoring system and/or a preventive maintenance plan of lamp replacement every year is recommended.  

This Quick Read was submitted by Naomi Millán, senior editor, Building Operating Management.


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