Light as a Disinfectant

Posted by Brooke Hild on 8/2/17 10:16 AM

Image result for ultraviolet light in hospital sanitation


in 1800, while experimenting with a glass prism and sunlight, a German Astronomer named Freidrich William Herschel found an invisible light that he named Ultra-red. The next year Johann Wilhelm Ritter discovered a form of light beyond the violet end of the spectrum, which he called chemical rays. Both discoveries would later be known as ultraviolet light.

The medical field utilizes ultraviolet light daily for disinfection and sterilization without needing harsh chemicals. It was discovered in 1877 by two English scientists that ultraviolet light kills bacteria, as it detects DNA from pathogens and prevents them from multiplying.

While the need for other disinfection methods remains in hospitals, using ultraviolet light is an effective way to prevent the spread of infection. Scientists have developed a method to use a subtype of ultraviolet (Ultraviolet C also known as UVC) to combat bacteria. UVC has a shorter wavelength than other forms of ultraviolet, and its’ higher energy causes it to be germicidal.  UVC infiltrates the cell walls of microorganisms like MRSA and neutralizes those cells to prevent them from multiplying.

Hospitals are now utilizing portable machines that combine xenon gas and UVC light to kill HAIs (hospital acquired infections). It is estimated that 1 in 25 patients in the US will contract a HAI while receiving care in the hospital. This not only equates to 75,000 patients dying annually, but over $30 billion dollars in costs to the US healthcare industry. By using these machines, hospital staff can more effectively clean operating rooms, patient rooms and the ICU where the risk of infection is extremely high. Using these machines, the risk of human error is eliminated creating a sanitized environment.

Reflective Concepts contributes to everyday life in more ways than one. We can provide design and engineering, as well as manufacturing of tailored reflectors and other lighting components to all sectors of the lighting industry, including medical. We have over 50 years’ experience, and can tackle almost every project we come across. Let RCI handle your next project, utilize our design project information sheet or call 262-605-0500 for more information.

To learn more about medical lighting check out the following blogs:

Healthcare and Lighting

How Tailored Reflectors Enhance Medical Lighting

New Call-to-action


Topics: Medical Lighting, Science, Light History, Ultraviolet