Does Ultraviolet Light Kill Mold?

Written by mike parker
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Does Ultraviolet Light Kill Mold?
The EPA recommends wearing long gloves when cleaning mould. (Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Molds are living organisms that play an important role in the natural environment by breaking down organic matter, such as dead leaves and trees. Mold spores usually aren't much of a health issue unless they land on a moist surface and start growing. In this case they can produce mycotoxins which can cause serious health problems, including allergic reactions such as skin rash, watery eyes, runny nose and asthma attacks, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Some evidence suggests that ultraviolet light may destroy some moulds.

Mold Basics

Molds are common throughout the U.S. They may grow on almost any surface provided there is both moisture and oxygen present. Mold reproduces through spores. These spores may grow on carpet, bathroom walls, attic insulation, foods and on virtually any other surface where excessive moisture is allowed to accumulate. The EPA notes that completely eliminating mould from any environment impossible, controlling mould in indoor environments is possible.

Mold Remediation

Mold must have both moisture and oxygen to grow. The first step in remediating any mould problem is to eliminate excess moisture and fix the problem that caused the moister. Damp surfaces should be thoroughly dried before they are cleaned, using wet vacuums, fans, heaters or dehumidifiers. The type of surface may dictate the type of remediation method that works best. Hard, nonporous surfaces, such as ceramic tile, should be wiped down or scrubbed with a mild detergent and allowed to dry. Carpet may need to be steam cleaned. Drywall will typically need to be ripped out and replaced. Surfaces should be vacuumed with a high-efficiency particulate air vacuum once they are completely dry.

Ultraviolet Light

Some evidence shows that ultraviolet light can inhibit the growth of mould, and it may even destroy some moulds. A study conducted by Jim Mauch and George Lyle at the University of California, Northridge on the effects of UV light on mould growth indicated mould exposed to ultraviolet light grew at no more than 25 per cent of the rate of mould left in darkness in a controlled laboratory environment.

UV Residential Applications

Cleaners that employ ultraviolet lamps may be effective in destroying some airborne moulds as well as moulds that are actively growing on some surfaces, according to the EPA, which recommends these cleaners only be used in conjunction with other filtration systems and not as standalone cleaners. The Allergy Consumer Review website notes that UV radiation may kill mould, but it does not destroy the spore. Since mould spores do not need to be alive to cause an allergic reaction, UV radiation alone does not provide a satisfactory solution. UV in conjunction with a HEPA filtration system may help to reduce the amount of mould spores in an indoor environment.

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