SARS-Cov-2 andCovid-19, the disease the virus causes, have many people seeking ways to ensure their environments are as germ free as possible.  Exposing objects to ultraviolet light, specifically UVC, is one very intriguing way of killing viruses.   UVC has been used as a sterilization method for in a variety of settings for decades.  Is UVC sterilization a practical method travelers can use to lower the risk of becoming infected by SARS-CoV-2?  In some circumstances, I believe the question can be answered affirmatively.

Before proceeding with the review, I’ll let you know that I am not endorsing any product or process and receive no compensation from any UV sanitizer manufacturer or seller (or anyone else for placing content in my posts).

UVC Light Kills Viruses And Other Germs

As stated in a July 8, 2020 article in Heath And Wellness, UVC light is strong enough to destroy the genetic material — either DNA or RNA — of viruses and bacteria.  UVC is used in water treatment plants, hospitals, air purifiers, and to disinfect currency among a variety of other uses.   

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A UVC robot can disinfect hospital rooms in about 20 minutes. Adrienne Murray photo

One reader informed me that UVC is used to sterilize equipment used by estheticians.  China is even using UVC to disinfect buses.  

A bus is disinfected using UVC in Shanghai, China (Credit: Getty Images)

The Mobile Klean UVC Sanitizer 

The Mobile Klean UVC sanitizing light is small, which makes it easy to carry in a purse or backpack.

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Mobile Klean UVC light is produced by mercury-based bulbs that emit UV light at a wavelength of 253.7 nm (billionths of a meter), which falls in the middle of the UVC spectrum.  This light is advertised to kill 99.99% of bacteria and viruses.   Although I’ve found no studies of UVC on SARS-CoV-2, one study from 2006 concludes that UVC is effective against SARS-CoV.  

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SARS-Cov-2 andCovid-19 have many people seeking ways to ensure their environments are as germ free as possible.  Exposing objects to ultraviolet light, specifically UVC, is one very intriguing way of killing viruses.   UVC has been used as a sterilization method for in a variety of settings for decades.  Is UVC sterilization a practical method travelers can use to lower the risk of becoming infected by SARS-CoV-2?  In some circumstances, I believe the question can be answered affirmatively.

Before proceeding with the review, I’ll let you know that I am not endorsing any product or process and receive no compensation from any UV sanitizer manufacturer or seller (or anyone else for placing content in my posts).

UVC Light Kills Viruses And Other Germs

As stated in a July 8, 2020 article in Heath And Wellness, UVC light is strong enough to destroy the genetic material — either DNA or RNA — of viruses and bacteria.  UVC is used in water treatment plants, hospitals, air purifiers, and to disinfect currency among a variety of other uses.   

_111361458_w-gbffgqs9cm55hsomsgqa_thumb_11f0
A UVC robot can disinfect hospital rooms in about 20 minutes. Adrienne Murray photo

One reader informed me that UVC is used to sterilize equipment used by estheticians.  China is even using UVC to disinfect buses.  

A bus is disinfected using UVC in Shanghai, China (Credit: Getty Images)

The Mobile Klean UVC Sanitizer 

The Mobile Klean UVC sanitizing light is small, which makes it easy to carry in a purse or backpack.

20200924_155719_001

UVC light is produced by mercury-based bulbs that emit UV light at a wavelength of 253.7 nm (billionths of a meter), which falls in the middle of the UVC spectrum. 

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Pros and Cons

These are the pros and cons of using UVC disinfection that I included in the previous post:

Pros
  • Portable UVC sanitizers are small enough to carry on your person during travel.  Among other uses, they can be employed for sanitizing your personal space on airplanes and in hotels.
  • UVC sanitation does not involve harmful or smelly chemicals.
  • If you sanitize items yourself, you don’t have to wonder if the cleaners did their work.
  • It is dry process suitable for use with electronic equipment.
  • UVC light can get to places that a cloth might not reach.
  • You won’t run out (as long as you have batteries or a charger).
  • The device uses AAA batteries, which is the same type used by noise-cancelling headsets.
  • There is very little effort required.  
  • UVC can be used at home on dirty items like phones and keyboards.

Cons

  • UVC can be harmful to human cells so it should only be used on surfaces and objects.
  •  Note to Corona virus Commander in Chief:  UVC should not be used internally.  And don’t stare into the light.
  • It is unclear how effective UVC is for places where it is difficult for light to reach. 
  • It is more expensive ($50 – $75 per unit depending on the source and number ordered) than soap and other disinfectants.

After inspecting the unit, I think those pros and cons are pretty accurate.  I’d add, though, that because all bacteria, germs and viruses, are invisible to the naked eye, you can’t tell by looking how successfully the bad stuff has been eliminated.  That applies to every disinfection process.

I Plan To Use The Mobile Klean Device To Reduce Potential Exposure To SARS-CoV-2 And Other Germs

This unit seems well suited for disinfecting small items that operate with electricity and things with uneven surfaces such as cell phones, keyboards and small appliances. In hotels UVC light sanitizers would be great for cleaning hotel phones, TV remote controllers, lamps, menus, etc.. It is also good for items where leaving a chemical residue is inadvisable such a drinking glasses or cutlery.

On airplanes and in airports they can be useful for cleaning small items that may be touched by strangers like video remote controls, seat controls, and cutlery in restaurants. It is good the device uses the same type of batteries as noise-cancelling headsets. For large flat surfaces, using a disinfectant wipe is faster although they leave behind chemicals.

Alternative Tip: If you do not use UVC, a helpful trick for remote controls is to bring a long a clear plastic bag and put the remote inside.

The major complaint in online reviews of Mobile Klean UVC products is it took months for delivery and poor customer service on things like refunds. I ordered mine on September 1 and it was delivered in my mailbox on September 22. As far as customer service, I never had trouble getting through on the toll -free number, and the reps went out of their way to answer my questions.

Final Thoughts

Travel exposes individuals to many types of germs and viruses. I plan to carry my Mobile Klean device whenever I travel, pandemic or no pandemic.

Each individual must decide if using a UVC sanitizer makes sense for them. What are your thoughts about using UVC as a disinfectant? Can you envision uses for it during travel other than the ones I mentioned?