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Do ultraviolet sanitizers work?

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2011-09-13 01:55:02
2011-09-13 01:55:02

Yes, Ultraviolet (UV) Sanitizers for pools do work. They use the same wavelength of UV light (254nm) that has been used worldwide for over 60 years to purify drinking water. For a more specific explanation of how they work see below.

The UV254 Sanitizer uses Ultraviolet Technology at a wavelength of 254 nanometers (nm) which does not produce ozone. Basically, ultraviolet light (UV) reacts with the DNA and RNA of living things to destroy the activity of these important molecules.

In particular, the UV254 Sanitizer produces ultraviolet radiation at a particular wavelength (254 nanometers or 253.7 more precisely) which is a good match for inactivating the DNA or RNA of pathogens - the various kinds of microorganisms that do us harm.

In a bit more detail, physics tells us that ultraviolet radiation is a form of electromagnetic radiation. One basic characteristic of this radiation is its wavelength which is often measured in nanometers (one billionth of a meter, abbreviated nm). The different wavelengths of radiation form what we call the electromagnetic spectrum. The spectrum can be pictured as consisting of visible light waves in the middle with infrared, microwave and radio waves having longer wavelengths and ultraviolet, x-ray and gamma rays having shorter wavelengths.

The visible light we see with our eyes varies from the violet with a wavelength just above 400 nm to red which has a wavelength up to 700 nm. Ultraviolet is called just that - it's beyond violet with wavelengths below what we can see. There is a relationship between the wavelength of light and its energy โ€ฆ shorter wavelengths have more energy. That's just a fact that we won't get into here.

The ultraviolet part of the spectrum is conveniently labeled divided into different parts labeled UVA (wavelengths from 400 down to 315 nm), UVB (315-280 nm), UVC (280-200 nm) and extreme UV (below 200 nm). This means that the shorter wavelength UVC rays have a higher energy than the UVA or UVB radiation. The UV254 Sanitizer works right in this higher UVC range.

Now consider a bit of biology. Living things are made up of complex molecules. DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) and RNA (ribonucleic acid) are two of these. They are involved in providing the genetic code and important cell protein manufacture essential to living things. A molecule, including DNA and RNA, is a string of atoms held together by what scientists call chemical bonds. Each chemical bond is associated with a particular energy.

It is an accident of evolution or just bad luck but the energy of some chemical bonds in DNA and RNA matches that of the UVC radiation. The energy from the radiation is just right to break some of the chemical bonds. It's like breaking a twig - we put our energy into bending the twig until it breaks.

The result is that the microorganisms can not reproduce and may be killed. The UV254 Sanitizer uses radiation at 254 nm wavelength, right in the middle of the UVC part of the spectrum so is effective in inactivating the wide variety of pathogens that are important to pool owners.

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