LIGHTFAIR 2019: Lighting’s Ability to Disinfect a Space

May 22, 2019

At LIGHTFAIR International 2019 in Philadelphia, PA, Sarah Kloepple spoke with David Korow, senior lighting specialist with Current by GE about the evolution of the technology behind lighting’s ability to disinfect spaces.

He also touches on the installation process and what facilities managers need to know.

Read the full transcript below:

Sarah Kloepple: Hey, everyone. This is Sarah Kloepple with BUILDINGS. I am here at LIGHTFAIR International 2019 in Philadelphia. And I’m standing here with David Keroe, senior lighting specialist with Current by GE.

What we’re talking about today is this really amazing capability of lighting being able to disinfect an environment.

David, can you talk a little bit about this technology, how it’s evolved for the healthcare space, how long it’s been around, things like that?

David Keroe: Yes. Hello, everybody. Historically, germicidal lighting has been done with fluorescent or mercury lamps containing a mercury spectrum.

The UV light from those old light sources, be they fluorescent or mercury, generated a UV line at 256 nanometers that was in the UVC band. And that historically, is how we created a germ-free or bacteria-free environment.

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The problem is UVC not only disrupts the DNA in the bacteria, it also will disrupt the DNA in us. So, the stuff is dangerous. It’s dangerous to people and therefore, it could be used only sparingly and in isolated situations.

What GE has developed is a UVA solution, which allows exposure up to 8 hours with no detrimental effects to anyone in the space. And over that 8-hour period, we’re seeing a 90-99% reduction in bacteria levels.

Now, this technology is to be used in addition to the standard procedures already being done in the hospital, such as using bleach or hydrogen peroxide to wipe surfaces.

The beauty of this system is if it’s allowed to be run for 8-hours-a-day in a 24-hour-period, that’s very important. No more than 8-hour exposure a day, it will reduce those pathogen levels in not only hard surfaces, but also in soft surfaces like bedspreads and carpeting and towels.

So, it provides a much cleaner environment in the space so that visitors as well as patients have less opportunity to be infected by these pathogens.

Sarah: Great. It’s great that lighting has stepped in to help with this problem. Talk a bit about the installation process.

Can a facilities manager do that on their own—their team—or do they have to contact a contractor to do it or how does that work?

David: So, it’s going to be up to the hospital or the healthcare facility. But it’s just a two-driver drop-in troffer. So, if the facility’s already doing their own lighting installations, they can very easily install this.

The UV channel or the driver running the UV LEDs would be a separate channel that would be on a separate control system that would limit its own time to 8 hours per day and no longer than that.

The white LEDs would just be your general lighting that would be used to light the space.

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Sarah: Great. Well, anything else you wanted to talk about, either with this product or just things facilities managers should know about this technology, pitfalls to avoid, stuff like that.

David: Yes. One of the largest costs to a hospital is trying to manage patients who have acquired an infection from an acquired exposure in their facility. So, to reduce that, not only provides a safer space for families and patients, but also for the staff. So, to prevent that or help mitigate it, is the primary purpose of this.

You’re going to upgrade to LED anyway. Why not put in an LED that has the UV functionality that I just spoke of to give you that added benefit?

And Current powered by GE can do all of that.

Sarah: Great. Well, thanks so much for your time, David. I appreciate it.

David: Thank you so much.

Check out our other LIGHTFAIR 2019 coverage:

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About the author
Sarah Kloepple | Associate Editor

Sarah joined the BUILDINGS team as an associate editor in August 2018. She is a graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism, where her focus was magazine writing. She's written and edited for numerous publications in her hometown of St. Louis.