How antimicrobial light can keep you safe from germs
Written by Linda Allardyce
We see light as a means of illuminating our spaces but it has many other qualities, including the ability to protect and clean.
At SaveMoneyCutCarbon we are expanding our LED lighting portfolio to harness this power, partnering with Vyv to bring its distinctive new class of eco-friendly antimicrobial lighting solutions to the UK.
The COVID-19 pandemic made us all much more aware of the invisible but potentially deadly organisms in our spaces and environments. Vyv’s mission is to provide unique lighting solutions that are healthy for us and our planet in the cleanest and simplest way.
New studies show that Vyv antimicrobial visible light LED technology is effective against viruses* as well as bacteria, mould, fungi and yeast on surfaces.
Light is simply a form of energy and the team at Vyv have harnessed and adapted its unique properties so that it multitasks, providing antimicrobial protection while also giving environments the best-quality, energy-efficient illumination.
Vyv is the market leader in Antimicrobial Lighting, providing solutions in a wide range of sectors from healthcare to travel, food and beverages, consumer products and services, fitness, agriculture – and more.
- Germicidal capability
- Continuous protection
- Unrestricted use
- No material degradation
- No labour required
Vyv’s patented offering multitasks to provide effective and continuous prevention of the growth and spread of micro-organisms – bacteria, fungi, yeast, mould and mildew – on indoor surfaces, and light the space at the same time. Independent studies prove at least a 90% bacteria reduction in controlled laboratory settings.
The company’s proprietary LED technology applies the power of 400-420nm (non-UV) light to be used in combination with traditional intermittent cleaning in hospitals, homes, public spaces, and workplaces.
Vyv lighting solutions are designed for any interior space that has high traffic and/or high-touch environments. It’s proven to work in high-risk settings, with people who are at high-risk, particularly those related to infection/outbreak populations. And it is ideal for spaces that face challenges with scheduled cleaning.
Standard cleaning and disinfection procedures do not provide adequate protection against harmful bacteria, fungi, yeast or mould and mildew. They are effective around the time of cleaning, but when anything new enters the environment the cycle of contamination is triggered again. This applies in nearly all settings, from homes to workplaces, to any interior public space.
How does Vyv light work?
Vyv’s technology works around the clock, in between routine cleaning activities, continuously killing micro-organisms. It harnesses specific wavelengths of visible light to target molecules exclusively within pathogens. This creates an inhospitable environment for bacteria, mould and fungi.
Vyv has been tested to the international IEC photobiological standard and meets the exempt category for continuous and unrestricted use around humans. The visible light spectrum has all the colours we can see, like the colours in a rainbow.
And it’s long been known that certain forms of visible light have unique qualities – the discovery of its beneficial destructive power was originally made in the late 1800s, where experiments with coloured filters were used with natural sunlight to initially demonstrate its impact.
The technology derives its microbial killing power from within the visible light spectrum (380-750nm), specifically the 400-420nm range, which is known to destroy bacteria, fungi, yeast and mould/mildew.
Differences to ultraviolet disinfection
Vyv’s LED portfolio does not harness ultraviolet light (UV), which can provide antimicrobial facility but works by attacking the micro-organism’s DNA and this makes it harmful to humans by penetrating skin and eyes, with the potential for cancerous cells to form and eye disease to be triggered.
UV occurs in the 100-380nm range. The most germicidal wavelengths are 200-280nm (UV-C) and so most commonly used for sterilisation or disinfection. UV-C light works as a disinfectant by penetrating deep into the nucleus of microbes, destroying nucleic acids, disrupting the DNA. This DNA damage accumulates and cells are unable to perform vital functions so they die.
Human DNA is also damaged by UV-C wavelengths and UV-C light at disinfecting or sterilising levels it can only be used when the area is not occupied, or in enclosed spaces that have no risk of human exposure.
UV light also has a degrading effect on environments as it breaks down the chemical bonds in plastics, gaskets, insulation, and similar materials. Vyv’s LED lighting makes no impact on these materials, so it is designed for areas where the caustic effects of UV are undesirable or impractical.
Unique killing action
Vyv’s killing action is completely different to that of UV. It works by activating particular types of porphyrin molecules that are present specifically in microbial cells, but not in humans, plants or animals.
When activated, the porphyrins produce excessive Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS), such as singlet oxygen, hydrogen peroxide, and hydroxyl groups. As these ROS accumulate, they become toxic, destroying multiple structures within the cell that leads to cell death.
But as the types of porphyrin molecules found in humans and other animals are not photoactivated by light in the 400-420nm range, Vyv light technology has no negative impact. This has been demonstrated in scientific, peer-reviewed studies that have exposed mammalian and human cells to these wavelengths.
Significantly, all the studies were conducted at much higher intensities of light than seen in Vyv products, without impacting facility operations or surface materials within the environment. The company has worked with research partners, accreditation bodies and customers to thoroughly assess and provide reassurance around the new approaches and technologies.
Studies also show that the visible light antimicrobial solutions do not have a negative impact on good bacteria found in the human gut, nor do they lead to the proliferation of antibiotic-resistant “superbugs”.
*Testing on a non-enveloped virus (MS2 bacteriophage) showed a 99.985% reduction in controlled laboratory testing in 6 hours on hard surfaces. MRSA and E. coli showed 90%+ reduction in controlled laboratory testing in 24 hours on hard surfaces. Results may vary depending on the amount of light that is reaching the surfaces in the space where the product is installed and the length of time of exposure. Use of Vyv antimicrobial light is not intended to replace manual cleaning.