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How does UV light kill bacteria?

Ultraviolet radiation is used to kill microorganisms, moulds and fungus in various environmental applications. UV sterilisation is used for air-purification systems, water purification, aquarium and pond maintenance, laboratory hygiene and food and beverage protection.

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When to Use UV Light Sterilization

UV treatment generally takes place only inside a specialised UV exposure chamber. It is useful for targeted elimination of microorganisms in air and water. UV sterilisation leaves no residual chemical or radiation in the air or water and is harmless to untargeted animals and plants. UV works well with waterborne pathogens. Water should be filtered prior to UV exposure to improve penetration and the sterilisation effect. Sterilised microorganisms remain in the air or water.

Where to Use UV Light Sterilization

UV sterilisation works well in applications where you want to clean up large quantities of microorganisms in air or water in aquariums, ponds, laboratories and clean rooms without leaving liquid or aerosol chemical residue behind.

How UV Light Sterilization Works

Ultraviolet light kills microorganisms by damaging the DNA. UV radiation disrupts the chemical bonds that hold the atoms of DNA together in the microorganism. If the damage is severe enough, the bacteria cannot repair the damage and will die. Longer exposure to UV light is necessary to ensure complete kill-off of all microorganisms. Unlike chemical treatments, UV-treated air or water does not resist re-contamination.

Why Use UV Light Sterilization

Ultraviolet light penetrates the cells, but does not alter the water, air or food being treated. Nothing is added to the medium except energy. Dead bugs also are not removed from the sterilised medium. Nor are organic or inorganic particles in the water or air. Some organisms, like certain moulds, are not as affected by UV radiation. UV radiation is indicated in situations where chemical residue after sterilisation is not acceptable

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About the Author

Tom King published his first paid story in 1976. His book, "Going for the Green: An Insider's Guide to Raising Money With Charity Golf," was published in 2008. He received gold awards for screenwriting at the 1994 Worldfest Charleston and 1995 Worldfest Houston International Film Festivals. King holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Southwestern Adventist College.

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