September 18, 2020
Ultraviolet Radiation (UV)
The wavelength of UV radiation ranges from 328 nm to 210 nm (3280 A to 2100 A). Its maximum bactericidal effect occurs at 240–280 nm. Mercury vapor lamps emit more than 90% of their radiation at 253.7 nm, which is near the maximum microbicidal activity 775. Inactivation of microorganisms results from destruction of nucleic acid through induction of thymine dimers. UV radiation has been employed in the disinfection of drinking water 776, air 775, titanium implants 777, and contact lenses778. Bacteria and viruses are more easily killed by UV light than are bacterial spores 775. UV radiation has several potential applications, but unfortunately its germicidal effectiveness and use is influenced by organic matter; wavelength; type of suspension; temperature; type of microorganism; and UV intensity, which is affected by distance and dirty tubes779. The application of UV radiation in the health-care environment (i.e., operating rooms, isolation rooms, and biologic safety cabinets) is limited to destruction of airborne organisms or inactivation of microorganisms on surfaces. The effect of UV radiation on postoperative wound infections was investigated in a double-blind, randomized study in five university medical centers. After following 14,854 patients over a 2-year period, the investigators reported the overall wound infection rate was unaffected by UV radiation, although postoperative infection in the “refined clean” surgical procedures decreased significantly (3.8%–2.9%) 780. No data support the use of UV lamps in isolation rooms, and this practice has caused at least one epidemic of UV-induced skin erythema and keratoconjunctivitis in hospital patients and visitors 781.