While most people are aware of using chlorine as a way to disinfect water, not many realize that you can also use UV disinfection to get rid of harmful germs in your drinking water. In fact, according to most experts using a UV disinfection unit is far more effective than chlorine.
Here are the advantages of using UV light to disinfect:
1. Using UV for disinfection doesn’t result in toxic air emissions or volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions. In contrast, a lot of commercially available disinfectants may have obnoxious fumes, especially when you accidentally mix them with other substances. These fumes can cause a lot of severe medical conditions and can even be deadly.
2. UV disinfection doesn’t result in toxic byproducts. This is especially true when using chemicals such as chlorine and chloramines for disinfecting water. Some of the byproducts are poisonous. They may also cause birth defects, cancer, or damage to your DNA.
3. There’s no risk of overdosing. Even if you use too much ultraviolet rays for disinfection, there’s really no harm done. With chemical or alcohol disinfectants, there are a lot of problems that may be caused when you use too much or use for too long.
4. There’s no unpleasant smell when you use UV for disinfection, nor is there a funny odor with the finished product. If you’ve ever been inside a hospital, you may be familiar with that “hospital smell” that’s not really pleasant at all. That smell is caused by the use of their disinfectants. It’s the same thing when you smell a typical swimming pool, which usually uses chlorine as a disinfectant and which causes this unpleasant smell.
5. UV disinfection doesn’t need a lot of contact time. UV only needs a few seconds to work, unlike chemical disinfectants which may take several minutes.
6. By disinfecting with UV, there’s no need for you to store hazardous materials. You don’t have to worry about your kids getting into the disinfectant and hurting themselves, or inadvertently storing a disinfectant with another substance that can cause a chemical reaction. Disinfectants with chlorine, for example, may release poisonous chlorine gas when they come in contact with oxidizing or acid cleaning agents. Disinfectants with peracetic acid may cause an explosion when mixed with detergents with alkalis or acids.
7. You do need some space for your equipment and contact chamber when you use UV disinfection. Fortunately, this space doesn’t have to be large.
8. UV can make the water taste better, as it destroys organic contaminants and nuisance bacteria and other microorganisms. Some of these bacteria may not actually be toxic, but having a slime substance in your drinking water can be rather off-putting. Sometimes it even adds a metallic taste to the water.
9. UV has no effect on the minerals found in the water. Some disinfection methods may remove them, though.
10. This method doesn’t have a negative impact on the environment, except when you need to dispose obsolete equipment and used lamps.
Of course, not even UV disinfection is 100% foolproof. It may not be the best disinfection method for water that contains high levels of solids, soluble organic matter, or color, as these can react with UV rays and decrease the effectiveness of UV disinfection. Turbidity (cloudiness or haziness) is also a factor, as it may make it harder for the UV rays to penetrate the water.