Can Biowarfare Agents Be Defeated with Ultraviolet Light (UVC)?
Rear Admiral (Ret) John Palmer U.S. Navy
Chief Executive Officer, UVSheltron
UVC Today: The uses of UVC are ever expanding. Due to the profound inactivation effect on microorganisms, UVC is used in the commercial food processing industry, the disinfection of heating & cooling coils, within ventilation and air-conditioning systems, for room/surface sanitization of office buildings, and in the killing of pathogens (bacteria, virus, and protozoa) while treating water.
Biowarfare Question: The pathogens present in our food, HVAC systems, office spaces, and municipal water reservoirs are largely incidental. But what about the intentional transmission of pathogens—otherwise known as biowarfare? Can UVC be used to combat biological threats from our potential enemies?
Answer: According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), the answer is “YES.”
UV Disinfection in DoD Publications: Our Federal departments and agencies have long been aware of the inherent disinfection power of natural UV on biological agents. The DoD’s Joint Publication 3-11 entitled Operations in Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Environments (29 October 2018/Validated 28 October 2020), highlights the rapid decay of biological agents under natural ultraviolet light. In addition, the U.S. Army Techniques Publication--ATP 3-11.74 entitled Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Platoons (April 2021) outlines exposure to UV rays as a biohazard decontamination procedure for surfaces and materials. The ATP states explicitly that UV light kills most biological agents.
NCBI examination of UVC against Biological Warfare: So, what happens if we bring to bear the more powerful UVC lamps when fighting these biological agents? Simply put, UVC provides rapid disinfection of biohazards—in only a few minutes. NCBI’s November 2015 edition of the journal “Virulence” indicates that UVC is an effective counter to biowarfare. In their article entitled Can biowarfare agents be defeated with light?-- NCBI reports on a comprehensive array of UV disinfection devices. Regarding UVC, the article states: “….the technology and methods used in health care facilities and laboratories can also help against potential bioterrorism agents that cause anthrax, smallpox, viral hemorrhagic fevers, pneumonic plague, glanders, tularemia, drug-resistant tuberculosis, influenza pandemics, and severe acute respiratory syndrome to mention a few.” The article also concludes that UV disinfection covers the extensive range of potential biohazards. Specifically: “The broad occurrence of these biological targets in bioweapons agents means that the light-mediated technology is highly likely to be very broad-spectrum, thus avoiding the need to know the identity of the particular agent in any mass biological attack, and also suggests that the development of resistance to light-mediated inactivation is likely to non-existent.”
Summary: The implication is clear, UVC is one of the most effective, non-toxic, chemical-free, non-diluting methods of disinfection available for countering bio-threats. UVC disinfection devices are critical tools in the hands of teams responsible for protecting our civic leaders to include the clearing and cleaning of rooms before meetings. Our Federal agencies can rely upon the protective effectiveness of UVC disinfection machines. Furthermore, organizations such as the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) are empowered to research and employ technologies such as UVC to combat bio-threats.
UVSheltron UVC products: One final note. NCBI’s Virulence journal confirmed the time-tested reliability and killing power of low-pressure mercury lamps emitting UVC at 254nm—the very same lamps installed in UVSheltron’s portfolio of surface disinfection devices. UVSheltron boasts three types of UVC products—Towers, Cabinets, and Handhelds.
- Towers for space disinfection: UVSheltron’s 6-foot and a 3-foot towers called “Illuminant 6” and “Illuminant 3” are outstanding options for disinfecting biohazards in spaces as large as 9,000 square feet—in just a few minutes—with 99.99% effectiveness.
- Cabinets for object disinfection: UVSheltron manufactures three types of cabinets—"Chamber,” “Elide,” and “Ark.” These UVC disinfection machines can inactivate biowarfare substances on objects. These UVC appliances are scaled from desktop devices-to-wardrobe enclosures suitable for first responder gear-to-our largest cabinet that can accommodate large carts and wheelchairs.
- Handhelds for targeted disinfection: Finally, UVSheltron provides handheld devices called “Irrupt” and they look like 2-foot shop-lights. These handheld tools permit targeted biological agent disinfection.
How UVC works: UVSheltron’s products operate through Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation (UVGI). UVGI emits short-wavelength UV-C light to kill or inactivate microorganisms by destroying nucleic acids--disrupting the RNA/DNA and leaving them unable to perform vital cellular functions. UVSheltron’s UVC disinfection devices kill 99.99 percent of hundreds of pathogens (including viruses, bacteria and hard to kill mold) without toxic chemicals—in only a few minutes.
Get “Protected by UVSheltron” today!
- Joint Publication 3-11; Operations in Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Environments (29 October 2018/Validated 28 October 2020)
- Army Techniques Publication--ATP 3-11.74; Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Platoons (April 2021)
- National Center for Biotechnology Information’s (NCBI) November 2015 edition of the “Virulance” Article: Can biowarfare agents be defeated with light?
- UVSheltron: www.uvsheltron.com