For years people have complained of the damaging effects of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) light on their skin, furniture and other possessions. However, recent innovations seek to harness the power of the sun not only for providing clean energy but also for all types of cleaning protocols as well. The type of UV light used for sterilization is commonly called UV germicidal irradiation, and it was first known to be used in France in 1910 for water purification. UV germicidal irradiation is now typically used to purify food, air and water. However, the technology is now being used in innovative ways to disinfect other objects, and the latest one to benefit from this technique is the germ prone door knob. Here is an overview of the invention, an explanation of the underlying science that makes it effective and potential challenges of its use.
Self Sanitizing Door Knob Design
Inventor Choi Bomi designed a sleek, bar like door handle equipped with a UV germicidal irradiation light. The door handle that sits in the horizontal position has the special UV light shed upon it continuously until the handle is depressed. A depression of the handle turns off the radiation emitting light, and people contact a disinfected door handle each time the handle is used. The light integrated into the self sanitizing door knob system doubles as a sort of night-light that can guide people to the door like a lighted exit sign in a dark movie theater.
Why It Is So Effective At Disabling Harmful Pathogens
UV germicidal irradiation only uses the sun’s rays as a model for the technology’s design. In reality, the natural germicidal irradiation produced by the sun is blocked for the most part by the earth’s atmosphere; if it were not, the earth’s ecosystems with their beneficial microbes would die. Products that use UV light for sterilization separate UV into short-range wavelengths that disrupt the DNA of pathogens as well as good micro-organisms. This disruption hinders their reproduction and renders them harmless to humans.
Potential Risks of Using UV Germicidal Irradiation
According to a National Institute of Health research publication, there are instances of occupational risks that are associated with prolonged exposure to unshielded UV germicidal irradiation lamps. Although people using the self sanitizing door handle have limited contact with the actual UV germicidal irradiation light, the UV lamp in the door handle design appears unshielded which will probably spark further safety studies before the product makes it to hardware store shelves.
The self sanitizing door knob is undeniably a smart way to use UV germicidal irradiation when occupational safety risks are identified and mitigated, and it has inspired other applications of the technology to inorganic objects. For example, UV germicidal irradiation has been applied to the sterilization of the computer keyboard and mouse recently. As the costs to produce UV germicidal irradiation lower, the public will probably see more of these self disinfecting inventions sold in the market place.