Ultraviolet light exposure offers another type of sanitization process to keep your CPAP supplies “clean”. Like ozone, it does not clean the skin oils, sweat residue, and nasal/oral discharge off the surface of your CPAP supplies. They still need to be washed with warm soapy water or cleaning wipes. And, like ozone, it does have certain advantages and disadvantages during its operation. So, lets look at these and compare them to the ozone technology and the manufacturers recommendations.
Not all forms of Ultraviolet light are equal. There are three levels of UV that are present within the full spectrum of sun-generated light (which is from 0-800nm). The Ultraviolet light emerges within the 200nm – 400nm range. Within that range we find UV-A light in the 315nm – 400nm range, UV-B light in the 280nm – 315nm range and UV-C light in the 200nm – 280nm range.
Much of the UV-A and UV-B light gets to the Earth in the Sun light we receive, however, much of the UV-C light is not able to penetrate the Earth’s atmosphere. It is only the UV-C light that actually has the strength to provide the sterilization process and is the light that most UV sterilizing equipment utilizes. The UV-A and UV-B light does not provide a sterilizing strength.
That is all the science of Ultraviolet light that we are going to discuss here. It is enough information for you to be able to make an informed decision. The bottom line is that UV-C is good, and UV-A and UV-B is bad for your CPAP supply sterilization considerations.
Let’s discuss the features, both positive and negative, of Ultraviolet technology.
The UV-C sterilizing process is extremely fast. Lab testing has shown that exposure of organic organisms (bacteria, viruses, parasites, mites) to UV-C light for as little as 3 minutes will completely kill them and prevent them from ever reproducing again.
Ultraviolet technology is absolutely silent during operation due to the fact that there are no motors or generators. It is completely waterless, so everything remains completely dry during the sterilization process. There is no muss or fuss with this technology and there are no potentially harmful residue deposits on or in the CPAP equipment.
There is generally no unpleasant odor following the UV-C sterilization process. So, no waiting period before you can use your CPAP supplies.
Another plus is that UV-C technology is generally very inexpensive to purchase with costs ranging from $80 to $240. Also, there are no optional accessories or parts that need to be routinely replaced.
Another benefit of UV-C is that there is no complicated setup programming. Most devices simply use USB plug in connectivity with some type of container and an on\off button.
Speaking of the container, the UV-C sterilizing process occurs within a sealed container. Some units have a hard shell with a drawer that slides out to accept the CPAP supplies. Others utilize a bag like an insulated “lunch box” look with snaps and buckles. Some containers are specifically designed for UV-C utilization with a very simple, functional design. Some of these containers are relatively small and compact and others have an abundance of space. More space permits optimum exposure to the UV-C light and more effective sterilization.
It is better to find a container that employs an instant disconnect should the container be opened prior to the completion of the process. Most of the UV sanitizers have an automatic shut-off that times out and turns itself off when the process is completed.
Another benefit of the Ultra Violet technology is that it can be used to sterilize any item that can go into the container. Many of our patients who have chosen to use this technology have reported putting their cell phones and other personal items into the container to be sterilized. One patient told how he had a drinking cup that he could not get rid of dark specks located in tiny crevices. He put the cup in the UV bag and the dark specks vanished.
A couple of our younger patients have reported that they are also sterilizing their infants milk bottles, pacifiers and small hand-held toys. Anything that will fit into the container can be sterilized with Ultra Violet technology. So, the bigger the container the more useful it can be.
Some cautions of using UV-C are protecting your eyes and skin from exposure to the UV light as it can cause the effect of sun burn. You must not look at the working UV light and you must not touch the UV lamps during operation. Other than this risk, there is no other disadvantage to using UV-C for sterilizing your CPAP supplies.