Businesses everywhere are looking for ways to make their buildings, schools, restaurants, and healthcare facilities cleaner and safer. UVGI is a term that’s been in the news a lot lately, especially when it comes to air treatment. If you’re new to UV-C technology or the UVGI term, here’s what you need to know. We’ll cover the definition of UVGI, its history, and some of the most common applications for UVGI treatment systems. 


What is UVGI?

UVGI stands for ultraviolet germicidal irradiation. Also known as UV-C technology or UV-C light treatment, this technology makes use of a specific ultraviolet light wavelength to deactivate the DNA or RNA of microorganisms and pathogens, disrupting their ability to multiply and cause disease.

Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation systems are used to neutralize pathogens in air, on surfaces, and in water. UVGI has been used for centuries to prevent the spread of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other pathogens, and history has shown that when used properly, it can be a safe and effective method of pathogen control. 


What’s the History of Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation Systems?

UVGI has been known and used as an effective method of pathogen control for centuries. UV light was used for the treatment of drinking water as early as 1910, and the 1903 Nobel Prize for Medicine was awarded to Niels Finsen for his application of UV light against tuberculosis of the skin. When it comes to air treatment, one of the most memorable historical moments for UVGI technology was William F. Wells’ discovery in the 1930-40s that UV lamps could help combat the spread of infectious diseases like measles in schools. 

Though the exact date of it’s discovery is unknown, the scientific community has studied and tested the abilities of ultraviolet germicidal irradiation systems for decades. Today, we know that it is a highly effective method of pathogen control that can treat air, water, and surfaces. 


What Are Some Common Applications for UVGI Technology?

UVGI treatment is used in a range of industries to create cleaner, safer environments, and help prevent the spread of infection. Just a few common applications for UVGI treatment include:


Hospitals & Healthcare Facilities

UVGI technology is used to disinfect operating rooms, helping prevent postoperative infections for patients. UV light treatment is also remarkably effective at helping provide cleaner, safer surfaces for hospitals with high-touch areas like nurse and duty stations, as well as shared computers and keyboards. 


Dental Practices 

Dental offices, practices, and operatories face a unique challenge, in that dental aerosols can linger in the air for up to 30 minutes or longer, increasing the likelihood of infectious pathogen transmission. UVGI treatment is used to treat surfaces in dental offices, as well as the air in dental practices, through continuous environmental treatment systems


Commercial Buildings

Air quality in commercial buildings — from office buildings and shopping malls to high-rise apartments — has long been a concern. Poor airflow and a lack of ventilation in larger buildings with few windows mean that pathogens are easily trapped within the building. While many commercial buildings have long made use of HVAC UV treatment systems, room-level source control with UV-C  is becoming more popular due to its ability to safely treat pathogens in occupied spaces directly at their source, people. 


Drinking water and wastewater

UVGI technology is also commonly used in drinking water and wastewater applications. UV-C light has been used for more than 100 years to help provide safe, clean drinking water in cities and municipalities around the world. Today, many cities in the US are adopting UVGI treatment for drinking water and wastewater treatment plants, instead of the traditional method of chlorination.



Though a more recent adopter of UVGI treatment and UVGI systems, restaurants working to provide a safe environment to their diners and their employees due to the COVID-19 pandemic have found an effective solution with UVGI technology. Surface treatment systems work to protect employees and customers alike from high-touch areas that can quickly collect pathogens, while room-level source control air treatment units work to continuously treat restaurant air, providing a cleaner, safer environment for everyone within the restaurant. 



UVGI technology has been used in schools for longer than many are aware. As mentioned above, early UVGI upper-room units were used in the 1930s-40s to help prevent the spread of measles in classrooms and schools. Today, room-level, engineered control air treatment units help provide 24/7 protection to education administrators, students, and teachers alike. 


UVGI is a proven, trusted method of pathogen control that has been around for centuries. When applied properly, it can effectively treat pathogens in water, on surfaces, and in the air for a range of applications, from commercial buildings and business spaces to healthcare facilities and even schools. If you’re looking for tools and technology that can help create a cleaner, safer environment in your building or facility, UVGI is a method you can trust. For more information about how to apply UVGI technology in your building or facility, contact the experts at UV Angel.