I have said it before, and I’ll say it again. The only real positive among the barrage of bad news that is the Coronavirus pandemic, is that humans collectively are now more aware of the hygiene requirements. More than ever before. Washing hands, sanitizing your hands and sterilizing objects and things that you touch. There is certainly more understanding about the unseen enemy—the virus, bacteria and germs that can cause significant harm. The thing is, we may not realize this, but everything we touch has the potential to transfer some germs to us. At the same time, we may actually leave some germs on any surface that we touch. That is how microorganisms spread. That is how illness spreads. But how do you sterilize all the objects around you, in your home? Our smartphones, tablets, laptops, the child’s toys which tend to be strewn around the floor most of the time, the face masks we wear when outdoors, sunglasses, watches, currency notes, coins, there are innumerable number of things we pick up, touch and use every day which could be carrying virus, bacteria and germs otherwise unseen to the human eye. There is now yet another very capable UV-C solution, the Godrej ViroShield, that helps you sterilize the physical stuff around you.
The Godrej ViroShield is available in the 30 liters capacity and is priced at Rs 9,490. This joins the likes of the Orient Electric UV Sanitech which is priced around Rs 9,499 for the 34 liters capacity and the Philips UV-C Disinfection System that also has a 30 liters capacity and is priced at Rs 10,299. But there is one big difference that the Godrej ViroShield brings to your home, compared with the Philips and the Orient Electric rivals—this has 4 UV-C lamps, unlike the other two, which have a pair of lamps inside the chamber. More UV-C tubes means potentially quicker cleaning.
The drinks-fridge like design of the Godrej ViroShield means you are able to actually use the space that is available to you. In fact, this looks a lot like the Godrej Cube personal cooling solution at first glance, which is also available in the 30 litres capacity. This sort of design is immediately an upgrade over the Orient UV Sanitech, which with its top-opening design meant you were dropping things into it rather than sliding them in. While the capacity for that is 34 liters, the loading mechanism can be limiting in a way in that case. That being said, the Godrej ViroShield has a square design, which means you’ll get the same real estate vertically and horizontally. It really shouldn’t be a problem for the most part, but I do feel that the microwave-like design of the Philips UV-C Disinfection System perhaps makes best use of the width allowing you to slide in wider stuff such as laptops, files and stacks of paper, more easily. The metal body with the dual matte grey and enamel white finish looks good, no matter where you keep the Godrej ViroShield.
Open it up, and the inside of the sterilization chamber has reflective interiors, much like its rivals. But the Godrej ViroShield has visually more reflective walls and its six sides, including the inside of the front door. Better reflectiveness allows the rays to bounce off quickly and work on the objects you may have placed inside it. Secondly, there are two UV-V tubes each, on the top and the bottom. The door itself is magnetically sealed off when you close it, to prevent any UV leakage. Also, Godrej ViroShield will immediately cut-off the power to the UV-C in case you absentmindedly open the door while the sterilization operation is taking place. That is because while the UV-C method is good for sterilizing objects and surfaces, it should not come in contact with the human skin or anywhere near our eyes.
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The Godrej ViroShield has single switch operation, which means you power it on and can manually power it off. But there is no timer option in the same way as the Philips UV-C Disinfection System lets you choose between 2 minutes, 5 minutes and 8 minutes. The Godrej ViroShield by default does a complete 6 minutes cycle when switched on and cuts off automatically.
There is however a chime at regular intervals during this operation, perhaps to tell you that the Godrej ViroShield is powered on and active at the time. Unfortunately, this chime is very loud, it isn’t exactly pleasant and there is no way to turn this off. You might want to avoid using this if someone is sleeping at home at the time.
The Godrej ViroShield uses four UV-C lamps which emit the radiation at 254nm. Incidentally, these are 11-watt UV lamps, and if you look closely, these are made by Philips. The way these lamps have been placed inside the chamber, covering the vertical length, means that anything that you place inside it will get the UV-C envelope in its entirety with the reflective walls playing their part in redirecting the UV-C.
But why do we need a UV-C solution at home? The concept of using ultraviolet, or UV, actually comes from nature. The sun sends UV-A, UV-B and UV-C out into the solar system. Among this, natural UV-C has the most energy which also means that it can potentially be more dangerous too—and therefore the earth’s atmosphere absorbs us from it. But the man-made sources of UV-C, when used in a controlled environment, can be used for potent sterilization purposes. What UV-C breaks down certain chemical bonds and scrambling the structure of the DNA, RNA and proteins, which renders the microorganism unable to multiply. That is when it is effectively dead—and your things can be considered safely sterilized. Incidentally, UV-C is used to clean water as well. The UV-C is deployed in the 100-280nm wavelength range.
A study by the National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories (NEIDL) at Boston University says that UV-C light sources irradiating the surface of a material inoculated with SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes the COVID-19 disease) at a UV-C dose of 5mJ/cm2 (exposure time 6 seconds) resulted in a 99% reduction of the SARS-CoV-2 virus present on that surface. This study determined that a UV-C dose of 22mJ/cm2 results in a reduction of 99.9999% of SARS-CoV-2 virus on that surface (exposure time 25 seconds).
It is true that UV-C sterilization systems such as the Godrej ViroShield do the job of the unseen—they kill virus, bacteria and germs that we cannot see or touch or feel. But they have the potential to impact our health in a negative way. We have pretty much gotten into a routine at home to sterilize every package that comes from outside, including newspapers and couriers and of course review devices. One can never be too careful when it comes to our health.