The Future of Disinfection for Schools and Universities

Every year, millions of school days are missed by students due to colds and the flu. While exposure to infectious diseases often occurs through person-to-person contact, there is extensive evidence that environmental exposure to pathogens can also transmit illnesses. Many bacteria and viruses can remain viable on surfaces in classrooms, fitness centres, cafeterias, and health service centres for hours, weeks or even months, placing students and staff at risk for exposure.

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Annual influenza epidemics result in an estimated three to five million cases of severe illness, and about 290 000-650 000 deaths globally. In South Africa, influenza (commonly known as flu) kills between 6000-11,000 people every year. The highest rates of hospitalization are in the elderly (65 years and older), HIV-infected people and children less than 5 years old

Each year, millions of people acquire illnesses from bacteria and viruses in common places – ranging from schools, universities, restaurants to hospitals to just about any space.

High Stakes with Lifelong Implications

Missing even a little bit of school can have a huge impact on student learning as “lost learning time, particularly in the younger grades, translates into weaker math and reading skills that become long-term deficits for students even years down the road.

With these types of high stakes, children’s health and long-term academic success, schools should deploy every means necessary to keep students healthy and in the classroom.

Areas to Target for Enhanced Disinfection

Another health threat that many schools and universities face is keeping athletes safe from infections, including those caused by MRSA, an antibiotic-resistant strain of Staphylococcus aureus that causes skin infections. Due to the difficulty in treating MRSA, it can easily lead to serious complications, including pneumonia, sepsis, or even death. As skin-to-skin contact is one of these key factors, athletes participating in contact sports are even more likely to carry MRSA than non-contact sport athletes.

In general, fitness equipment is known to have significant amounts of bacteria. Exercise bikes and treadmills have been tested to have over 1.3 million colony forming units (CFU) of bacteria, and free weights had as many as 1.2 million CFU, which is 362 times the CFU found on a public toilet. Of the bacteria found on exercise equipment, 70% was determined to be harmful to humans.

Benefits of UV Disinfection

One thing nearly all illnesses have in common is that they can be spread by touching contaminated surfaces, from toys, shared supplies, door handles, or other high touch areas.

While extensive disinfection becomes part of the response to widespread illnesses or infections, it is not standard protocol for most schools and campuses. While UV disinfection is not a “new” technology, UV light is a proven disinfectant for surfaces, instruments, and air.

With over 140 years of research behind it, Ultraviolet light has been repeatedly proven effective against pathogens, including C. diff, MRSA, E. coli, Salmonella, Norovirus, and many more. The ability of UV light to kill microorganisms is directly related to the energy dosage produced by the UV source as a function of spectrum, time and distance to the target.

Ultraviolet light attacks microorganisms at the DNA and RNA level. Microbes are not able to develop resistance to ultraviolet light, compared to their ability to form resistance to certain types of chemical disinfectants.

Another potential benefit is the ability to reduce the labour and/or cost of chemical cleaning as it can be very labour-intensive effort given the number of offices, surfaces, and objects within a building.

A study using UV for routine daily disinfection of surfaces cut the number of housekeeping hours required in half, compared to using chemicals in manual cleaning.

Furthermore, UV disinfection systems like those from Virus Safe are also energy- efficient.

Conclusion

Ultraviolet light has an extensive history of effectively killing microbes in the air and on surfaces, which has been proven to reduce the infection rates of MRSA, C. diff, VRE, Influenza, Corona, and other harmful pathogens.

With its proven results and chemical-free method of disinfection, ultraviolet light provides a sustainable, effective way to keep our spaces safe from harmful germs, while still protecting our environment.

VIRUS SAFE provides a high-quality line of UV-C light products (254nm) that will meet your needs for safe, effective, germ-killing in everyday spaces

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Virus Safe provides a line of high quality UVGI Sanitizing products that will meet all your needs for everyday virus and bacteria killing, safely and effectively.

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