If ever there was a silver lining to the Coronavirus pandemic, it is that humans are now more aware about cleanliness requirements, the need to disinfect, wash hands and how virus and germs stick to things that we use. Just as how the awareness about poor quality water led us to water purifiers and the polluted air led us to air purifiers in the past, the coronavirus is making disinfection systems quite relevant and essential for modern homes. The Philips Signify UV-C system uses the Ultraviolet-C light that is known to disinfect the air and any surface it touches by breaking down the spread of these microorganisms. Signify Innovations India has added the Philips UV-C Disinfection System to its arsenal of disinfection products in India, which can be used in homes and offices as well.
That leads us immediately to the big question—apart from other virus, bacteria, foodborne pathogens, natural microbiota, molds, and yeasts, is UV-C also effective against COVID. 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). This is true for the UV-C that the Philips UV-C Disinfection System also uses and deploys. You can buy the Philips UV-C Disinfection System in three sizes. There is the 10-litre option which is priced at Rs 7,990 or you can go for the 15-litres capacity that costs Rs 9,990 while the flagship 30-litres capacity variant is priced at Rs 11,990. You will be able to buy these on popular e-commerce platforms including Amazon.in as well as select offline stores.
The concept of UV actually comes from nature. The sun does send UV-A, UV-B and UV-C out into the solar system, and it is the natural UV-C which has the most energy that could also be dangerous—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 sterilization purposes. This works by breaking 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. UV-C is used to clean water as well. UV-C is deployed in the 100-280nm wavelength range. The Philips UV-C Disinfection System uses low-pressure UV-C lamps which emit the radiation at 254nm.
But one must remember—the UV-C method is good for sterilizing objects and surfaces but should not be used on human skin or anywhere near our eyes, for example. The Philips UV-C Disinfection System has the automatic cut-off as soon as the preset timer runs down. Secondly, if the door is opened while it is in operation, the UV-C system immediately shuts down so that the human who may have absentmindedly opened the door doesn’t get exposure to UV-C.
The Philips UV-C Disinfection System, on its part, does give the initial impression that it is a microwave oven. Complete with the toughened glass on the front door that lets you peek inside. That is what the design and the control layout suggest, till you figure out otherwise. Folks at home were surprised that I had started to review microwave ovens, which would be a tall order for someone who doesn’t know how to cook and cannot differentiate between most ingredients. This is very well built though, with a stainless-steel body. At least the 30-litres capacity version feels reassuringly heavy, which is a good thing. There is an LED display on the front that tells you about the operation details. Setup doesn’t include any complexity at all, and this is pretty much plug and play.
You have a very simple control panel at the front. There are the 2 minutes, 5 minutes and 8 minutes preset timer keys with the Start and Stop buttons. You can also manually set the duration with the “+” and “-“ option.
It is recommended that if you are sterilizing smaller items such as a wristwatch, keys or sunglasses, for instance, a two-minute UV-C exposure will do the job. For phones, tablets, small packages and similar sized items, use the Philips UV-C Disinfection System for three minutes. There are presets for up to 8 minutes, a duration that is essential for larger or denser items, packets or bags, for instance. You can even sterilize vegetables, fruits and cooking utensils in this. Of course, this isn’t claiming to be an alternative to washing everything properly, but the added layer of sterilization is always welcome in these tough times. There are UV-C lamps on either side of the main compartment.
There is no way for any of us to test the actual real-world effectiveness of the Philips UV-C Disinfection System when it comes to actually rendering virus, bacteria, foodborne pathogens, natural microbiota, molds, and yeasts unable to multiply—purely because it is something we cannot see. For that, we would have to become scientists and get our hands on really expensive and complex testing equipment and methodology to give you an exact figure. But what is undoubted is the ability of UV-C as a method to render dangerous microorganisms effectively dead. The quality of lamps really matters a lot in that case, and Philips has had more than 35 years of experience in making UV-C products for home and commercial usage. It is perhaps more about getting used to the idea of sterilizing your gadgets, accessories and pretty much everything that you touch daily. It is the unseen enemy that you are fighting in your home.