Disinfection with light seems like a cutting-edge, forward idea, but actually, it’s been around for over 100 years.
Since the late 1800’s, We’ve known that UVC light can kill the bacteria, mold, yeast, and viruses developed through poor indoor air quality. This was done through germicidal lamps back then. Later, Niels Ryberg Finsen (1860-1904) would be the first in using UV rays to treat disease. For this discovery, in 1903, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine. His invention of the Finsen curative lamp was widely used through the 1950’s. Based on his success, Westinghouse developed the first commercial UVC lamps in the 1930’s to be used as a disinfecting tool for hospitals.
Simultaneously, UVC was used to disinfect more than hospital settings. In 1908, it was used to disinfect the municipal water supply of Marseille, France. After 1945, the use of UVC light sterilization spread to kitchens, bakeries, breweries, dairies, meat storage and processing plants, beverage production, pharmaceutical plants and other lab settings. In the 1950’s UVC light sterilization was embodied in air handling equipment, making it a leading part and parcel for controlling the spread of tuberculosis.
Disinfection with UVC light dropped out of the spotlight when new antibiotics and medications were introduced as well as other methods of sterilization. However, the serious need for this powerful sanitation popped up again in the 1970’s during the energy crisis. During that time, HVAC systems were shut down entirely when not in use. Causing mold and other microbes to grow in the vents. The microbes were recirculated through buildings when the HVAC systems were turned back on, causing illness to many.