Recently, the Environmental Protection Agency warned the public that disinfectants and sanitizers falsely claiming to protect against the coronavirus are flooding the market to take advantage of the pandemic. In light of this advisory, and how incredibly challenging it is to disinfect with UV light inside of a cart, it's essential to be cautious and informed when evaluating UV disinfection charging stations.
We urge you to do your homework before purchasing products that say they kill pathogens as well as perform other functions. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Here are six things to consider before clicking the Buy Now button:
1. Ensure UV-C Light Comes into Contact with ALL Device Surfaces While Inside the Station.
For an object to be disinfected, it must have full exposure to UV-C light rays. But what exactly is UV-C light, and how do UV-C lights work?
We all know about the sun's UV rays and their harmful effects, that's why we slather on the sunscreen when we head outside. But did you know there are actually three different types of UV rays? Most UV rays that you come in contact with from the sun are longer wavelength UV-A rays. In addition to UV-A rays, there are also UV-B and UV-C rays. When it comes to disinfection, not all kinds of UV are effective. UV-C rays have the shortest wavelengths and the most energy. That's why they do such a great job breaking apart germ DNA, leaving it unable to function or reproduce.
Unlike UV-A and UV-B light, UV-C light is germicidal. It can even neutralize "superbugs" that have developed a resistance to antibiotics. UV-C light penetrates the cell and disrupts the DNA, killing the pathogen.
For an entire object to be disinfected, it must have full exposure to UV-C light rays. Therefore when evaluating a touch free UV disinfection station, always ask, "Is the device resting on a solid shelf or on clear glass?" For full exposure, the device MUST be resting on clear glass because touch free UV-C light cannot penetrate a surface unless it's clear. If your object is in contact with a dark surface such as a shelf, rack, or even when the light is being blocked by another device, it will NOT be fully disinfected.
When searching for a UV disinfection station that not only charges devices but also disinfects laptops, Chromebooks, or other devices that fold in half, another vital question to ask is about those bacteria-loving keyboards. Unless you want your keyboards to be home to almost three times more bacteria than a public toilet seat, be sure also to ask, "Is the keyboard fully exposed to the UV-C light?"
2. Read the Research Behind any UV Disinfection Claims
The best way to protect yourself and your investment is to read the research behind a manufacturer's claims. Check out this guide as to what to look for in UV-C testing research data.
- Laboratories outside of the United States may test based on different standards. Was the research done by a trustworthy, BSL (Biosafety Level) lab?
- If so, what biosafety level is the lab? There are BSL-1, -2, -3, and -4 level labs. BSL-4 being the most stringent. There are only thirteen BSL-4 laboratories in the U.S. According to the CDC, SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, must be tested by a BSL-3 lab. Check out the CDC's article on "Recognizing the Biosafety Levels" to learn more about the characteristics of the four biological safety levels and laboratory practice.
- Was any research or testing done in the field, meaning outside of a lab? Did users find the device effective and useful?
3. Understand the Significance of Exposure Time and Kill Rate for Disinfection
For UV-C light to be effective, exposure time is critical. For example, waving a UV-C wand over an object will not disinfect it, unless the light directly hits every part of the surface for the prescribed and tested exposure time.
When evaluating stations, it's very important to assess what percentage of a given germ is killed by the UV disinfection process. This percentage is also known as the kill rate. In the healthcare industry, the strongest kill rate claim you can make is 99.9999%. Keep in mind that decimal points matter. 99% is not the same as 99.999%. For those of you in IT, you know that those extra 9's in uptime can make a big difference! 99% uptime means over three days of downtime per year, whereas 99.999% uptime translates to only 3 minutes of downtime per year.
UVone rapid UV-C technology disinfects devices to a 5-log kill, reducing the colony to 10 MRSA bacterium after a 99.999%* reduction.
*For complete testing data for UVone, please visit www.lockncharge.com/uvone-testing-data.
4. Determine How Much Physical Contact Is Needed to Operate the Sanitizing Unit
There's a reason why hospitals mount touch-free automatic hand sanitizer dispensers around their facilities. Touch-free delivery eliminates cross-contamination to help reduce the spread of germs and encourage use.
Is the disinfection station that you're considering labeled touchless or zero-touch? If bacteria are on the outside of the station, and you have to touch the station to open it, doesn't that defeat the purpose of sanitizing the device in the first place?
With the touch free UVone device disinfection, a user simply waves a hand above the system to open it, places the device inside, then waves a hand again to close it. There's no need to ever physically touch the portable uv sterilizer.
5. Be Cautious of Other Sanitizing Products, Such as Ozone Disinfection
Ozone molecules in the atmosphere are what forms the protective ozone layer in Earth's atmosphere. Remember those UV rays we were talking about earlier? The ozone layer is what blocks UV-C light from reaching the earth's surface. Ozone disinfection uses ozone gas rather than UV light to disinfect surfaces. There are advantages to ozone disinfection because gas can engulf an object, such as the keyboard of a closed Chromebook, more successfully than light. It can also be more effective on porous surfaces like fabric, which is why this method is often used in dry cleaning services.
However, ozone comes with risks—really BIG ones at that.
- Ozone is very reactive and corrosive. Any material exposed to ozone gas can rapidly deteriorate, which in this case would include mobile devices and charging units.
- Ozone gas is toxic. Any leaks in the cabinet or charging station can have significant effects on people. According to the EPA, "When inhaled, ozone can damage the lungs. Relatively low amounts of ozone can cause chest pain, coughing, shortness of breath and, throat irritation. It may also worsen chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma as well as compromise the ability of the body to fight respiratory infections."
Here are some tips as to what to look for in portable UV-C light sterilizing products that claim to use ozone disinfection.
- Find out if the ozone production of the charging station is below the EPA recommended ambient concentration of 0.05ppm. It has been shown that ozone content above 0.3ppm can cause lung issues, so if any leak in the cabinet occurs during ozone generation, this can have significant effects on people in a classroom or factory setting. This is why the EPA and OSHA have made an ambient ozone limit of 0.05ppm.
- Be sure to check with local regulations as well. For example, the state of California has strict regulations around acceptable levels of ozone emission, which may likely be above levels solutions offer.
6. Consider How Important It Is to Have Device Charging and Disinfection in One Device
It may seem like a dream come true to have an all-in-one disinfection charging cart. But if you step back and look at the larger picture, the benefits of LocknCharge's unique solutions prove that two separate devices can be better for both disinfection and charging.
- The sleek, compact design means the UVone portable UV sanitizer for mobile devices seamlessly integrates into any environment. Unlike a larger charging station, it can be placed where it is most likely to be used—such as outside a locker room, restroom, or lunchroom. Hygiene compliance is much more likely if it's simple, convenient and visible.
- While it may seem logical to charge and disinfect devices overnight, imagine if you only washed your hands in the morning when you get up? Just like washing hands, disinfecting once per day may not be enough to stop the spread of viruses. Sanitizing more often can prevent cross-contamination as germs are spread by users touching devices multiple times per day.
LocknCharge offers a complete suite of solutions for mobile device charging, storage and security. Easily pair UVone with a LocknCharge charging station that works best for you to ensure devices are reliably sanitized, charged, and ready for use at all times.
Schedule a Live Product Demo
Schedule a live video demo with a LocknCharge team member to get a closer look at how our products help make your life easier.
Back To School Educational Technology Tips & Advice
What will schools look like a year from now? Or even next week? It's hard to keep track of technology solutions for your school. Get all the latest educational technology tips and advice for districts and educators here.