This article was last updated on 11/8/2022.
What’s the first thing you think of when you hear or see the word ultraviolet? Do images of black-light posters from the ‘60s flash through your head? Do you wince at the distant memory of a bad sunburn? Perhaps you recall a scene from a 2006 dystopian science fiction action film. Ultraviolet light is ubiquitous. You may have even noticed signs of the purple light in places you weren’t expecting, such as the filtered water dispenser in your workplace.
UV light can destroy 99.99% of harmful microorganisms, making ultraviolet water treatment one of the most effective methods for maintaining the cleanliness of your freshly filtered water at work. A mere beam of light can ensure your drinking water is clean while reducing dangerous levels of contaminants. The Quench Water Experts can’t help but get excited when talking about UV water treatment, and hopefully, by the end of this article, you’ll understand why.
What Is UV Light?
Throughout our lives, we’re taught to protect ourselves from UV rays by taking cover under big umbrellas or slathering on sunscreen. Yet, when it comes to UV water treatment, feel free to leave your sunscreen at home. The type of UV light used to deactivate pathogens in water, UVC (or UV-C), is virtually harmless when exposed to humans for a short period of time.
The UV range of electromagnetic radiation extends from 10 nm (nanometers) to 400 nm. The spectrum is separated into four parts: UVA (315 nm to 400 nm), UVB (280 nm to 315 nm), UVC (200 nm to 280 nm), and UV Vacuum (100 nm to 200 nm).
UVA, UVB, and UVC are the 3 types of ultraviolet light that radiate from the sun, but only UVA and some UVB can get through Earth’s ozone layer. While UVA and UVB rays differ in how they affect the skin, they both do harm.
Unprotected exposure to UVA and UVB can ultimately damage the DNA in skin cells, producing genetic defects or mutations that lead to skin cancer and premature aging, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Moreover, the Skin Cancer Foundation reports that these UV rays can also cause eye damage, including cataracts and eyelid cancer.
UVC, on the other hand, is less threatening to humans. Quench filtered water dispensers use UVC technology. The absorption length of UVC in humans is so short that almost no radiation can penetrate our living skin cells. In addition, the UV system for water treatment happens within the confines of the filtered water dispensers, which means the risk of exposure to UV light when dealing with the outside of a water tank is extremely low.
How Is UVC Light Used to Sanitize Water at Work
To kill any potential microorganism that could cause your employees, guests, or customers harm, UVC rays can be used to strike their cells. This penetrates the outer cell membrane, passes through the cell body, and destroys the nucleic acid — disrupting its DNA and preventing a microorganism from reproducing. The degree to which ultraviolet radiation can deactivate harmful contaminants in your water supply is directly related to the UV intensity combined with exposure time.
Quench uses LED UVC in our machines to maintain water’s cleanliness, without adding any chemicals, like chlorine, to the filtered water. Independent testing has concluded that UV disinfection technology can eliminate:
- 99.9999% of bacteria
- 99.999% of viruses
- 99.9% of parasites, including cryptosporidium and giardia
Similar to LED lightbulbs, LED UV lamps have a longer effective life than traditional UV lamps, leading to fewer service issues and less waste. Plus, traditional UV can produce a substantial amount of heat, which can be transferred to the water while LED UV can be engineered to not transfer heat, ensuring your cold water stays cold.
Furthermore, traditional UV lamps contain mercury while LED UV lamps do not. UV lamps that contain mercury are less efficient because they also emit harmful UVA and UVB rays which can degrade materials and impart taste if not properly designed. LED UVC light is very focused and has an extremely narrow range of 270 – 280 nm, which means there is little bleed into other light ranges. This specific range is ideal for ultraviolet disinfection technology but will not degrade other materials like plastic.
That being said, it’s best to partner UV water treatment with other kinds of filtration methods. UV light is primarily used for maintaining cleanliness rather than eliminating potentially harmful contaminants. The LED UVC will not have any impact on chlorine, volatile organic compounds, heavy metals, or other chemical contaminants — emphasizing the need for filtration technology along the way.
In-Tank Versus Recirculation
Combining UV sanitization of water with other kinds of filtration systems, like advanced carbon filtration or reverse osmosis, is the best way to effectively treat your office water supplies. Because a strong filtration system is a key partner to UV sanitization, it’s essential to understand there are 2 ways that UV sanitization works in filtered water dispensers — in-tank and recirculating.
In the former, a UV lamp is located inside the water storage tank, after the water has been drawn from your local water line in a bottleless system, and sanitizes the surfaces of the tank as well as the water around it. In-tank UV lamps help maintain the freshness and taste of the filtered water and maintain the cleanliness of the reservoir.
In the recirculating system, the water itself, rather than the tank, is sanitized. A pump within the tank facilitates the water flow and each time the water molecules pass the UV lamp they are sanitized. This is a good method for very large storage tanks – like the Quench Q12. Quench has bottleless water cooler systems that employ both methods, and a certified Quench Water Expert can help you determine which model best fits your organization’s needs.
The Advantages of Cleaner Workplace Drinking Water
Whether you realize it or not, your workplace water supply ultimately has wide-reaching effects on the entirety of your organization. With systems for UV sanitization in place to maintain cleanliness, in combination with advanced filtration technology, your business can expect to see a number of long-term advantages as a result. These include:
- Supporting the health and well-being of employees and customers: Without introducing the proper systems for ensuring your water is always clean, you run the risk of negatively impacting the health of key parties linked to the success of your business. Providing your employees, guests, and customers with clean water will prove essential to supporting their health and ensuring they feel their best at work.
- Reducing absenteeism: Guaranteeing team members have access to a water supply that won’t negatively impact their health ultimately promotes lower absenteeism in the long run. This will prove essential to keep in mind, considering absenteeism costs U.S. companies billions of dollars each year, per a report from Investopedia.
- Driving hydration across the corporate ladder: Contaminated, unfiltered water inevitably does little for the hydration of your workforce. Providing your workplace with water that’s not only clean but tastes great too will be a key factor in improving your employees’ daily water intake.
- Promoting greater productivity and efficiency: Ultimately, workers that feel great produce better work. As hydration in your workplace increases, and this purified water maintains the health of your workers, your organization will experience a significant boost in your daily productivity and efficiency. This will be incredibly valuable for your business results moving forward.
Quench’s UV Sanitization Keeps Your Office Water Clean
If you’re ready to use UV light disinfection to keep your workplace drinking water clean — Quench can help. Quench’s flagship product line, the Quench Q-Series filtered water dispensers, combine UV water treatment with a proprietary 5-filter setup, producing quenchWATER+. Quench units create quenchWATER+ using state-of-the-art filtration technology to remove contaminants, pathogens, germs, and bad tastes while adding minerals, electrolytes, and alkalinity to create amazing-tasting water. The added LED UV light within these machines creates an extra layer of security, ensuring your employees are drinking the healthiest water possible.
Now, knowing how UV sanitization of water works and all the benefits associated with it, we hope you get why Quench Water Experts love talking about ultraviolet technology so much. But, the conversation doesn’t have to end here. Learn more about our UV water treatment, sterilization, and disinfection methods, or get a free quote to get started.