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Ultraviolet Lights: Good News for Handling Airborne Bacteria

Your home’s indoor air quality has a direct effect on your household’s health. This is the air you and your family breathe while sleeping, relaxing and working or playing inside the home. Your household spends many hours breathing this indoor air. Unlike outdoors, where mold spores, bacteria and other contaminants are diluted by fresh air, pollutants can quickly become concentrated in the confined space of the home. Controlling indoor air quality, therefore, is important. While good sanitation and the use of clean filters on your HVAC system are helpful, sometimes more is needed. One option is to have germicidal ultraviolet lights added.

Microbes, Mold and Indoor Air Quality

Air filters in your HVAC system may capture some pollen, particles of dust and the largest mold spores. High MERV filters may even trap some smaller mold spores, preventing these from entering your air supply. However, filters cannot kill biological organisms, such as bacteria and spores, and many will still enter to contaminate your air supply, no matter what kind of filter you use. This is significant because when these biological agents are breathed in, they can cause allergies and other health problems.

Getting to the Source

Biological contaminants may enter the home in several ways. Mold spores in particular may be prolific after heavy rains or high humidity, for example. However, your HVAC system itself, particularly the air conditioner, is more often a significant source of the problem. The damp, enclosed design of an A/C unit makes it an ideal environment for mold and bacterial growth. Air flowing through the unit then becomes contaminated with the spores and microbes.  

As the air leaves your air conditioner and travels through the ductwork, some of these organic pollutants will be taken directly into your home, and some will be deposited in the ducts. In the home and in the ducts ,they may continue to breed and contribute to allergies or other problems related to poor indoor air quality.

Having the ducts cleaned is one solution for unsanitary ducts, but it's not a long-term one. If the source of the mold and bacteria isn't eliminated in the HVAC system, these biological contaminants will continue to find a way into the ducts and into your home.

Benefits of Ultraviolet Lights

Ultraviolet lights kill microbes and spores. For this reason, UV germicidal lamps are used in medical facilities to decontaminate some surfaces and supplies and are also sold commercially for disinfecting toothbrushes and similar applications. When these bulbs are installed within an HVAC unit, often close to the air conditioning coils or other nearby surfaces, the light will kill existing bacteria, viruses, spores and other unwanted micro-organisms. Ultraviolet lights also prevent newly-arriving bacteria and spores from growing inside the system. This means cleaner air for your home.

Other Considerations

Proper installation is important for the ultraviolet lights to be effective. A sufficient amount of UV light must be present for decontamination. Only surfaces that are in contact with the light’s rays will be decontaminated. Hidden surfaces may still harbor mold or other organisms, which will defeat the purpose of this system.

A qualified contractor who understands germicidal UV lights will know this and can recommend the right number and type of bulbs for your system. The bulbs should also be checked regularly for proper function and will need to be replaced on occasion.

Many households can benefit from UV germicidal systems, but allergy sufferers may notice the most improvement after professional installation of these systems. The elderly and those with chronic lung conditions or immune system disorders may also benefit. 

For more information about ultraviolet lights and other ways to improve your home’s air quality, contact the pros at Comfort24-7. We proudly serve Chicago, northwest Indiana and southwest Michigan.

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