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Unlike chemical approaches to disinfection (like chlorine), UV provides rapid, effective inactivation of microorganisms through a physical process. When talking about disinfection in terms of microorganisms, means a reduction of at least 3 log (or 99.9%).
When bacteria, viruses and protozoa are exposed to UV light, the UV energy destroys the genetic material (DNA) within, eliminating their ability to reproduce and cause infection - this process is known as thymine dimerization. Unable to multiply, the microorganisms are "inactivated", and no longer pose a health risk.
UV light has demonstrated efficacy against pathogenic organisms, including those responsible for health risks such as cholera, polio, typhoid and hepatitis. It also inactivates E.coli, Cryptosporidiym and Giardia.
Note that disinfection is not sterilization.
UV Light can be subdivided by wavelength, as measured in nanometres, ranging from 10 nanometers (nm) to 400 nanometers (nm).
These are the main UV Light Categories:
The energy employed for UV water treatment is categorized into 254 nm and 185 nm, where nm = 1/1000 of a micron. For disinfection and ozone destruction applications, the 254 nm wavelength is utilized.
Ultraviolet (UV) light treatment is a widely recognized and proven method of disinfection of water. It is a physical treatment, not chemical, so it doesn't alter the water chemistry.
UV doesn’t add color, odor, taste or flavor to the water and doesn’t generate harmful by-products like pH.
While the most common application of UV in water treatment is UV disinfection, it is also used for these applications: