Pulsed ultraviolet light decontamination of artificially-generated microbiological aerosols

Dougall, L. R. and Gillespie, J. B. and MacLean, M. and Timoshkin, I. V. and Wilson, M. P. and MacGregor, S. J.; (2018) Pulsed ultraviolet light decontamination of artificially-generated microbiological aerosols. In: IEEE 21st International Conference on Pulsed Power (PPC), 2017. IEEE Pulsed Power Conference Proceedings . IEEE, GBR. ISBN 978-1-5090-5748-1 (https://doi.org/10.1109/PPC.2017.8291260)

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Airborne transmission of infectious organisms is a major public health concern, particularly within healthcare and communal public environments. Methods of environmental decontamination utilising pulsed ultraviolet (UV) light are currently available, however it is important that germicidal efficacy against airborne contamination is established. In this study bacterial aerosols were generated and exposed to short duration pulses (~20 µs) of UV-rich light emitted from a xenon-filled flashlamp. The lamp was operated using a 1 kV solid–state pulsed power source, with a pulse frequency of 1 Hz, and output energy of 20 J/pulse. Post-treatment, air samples were extracted from the chamber and the surviving fraction was enumerated using standard microbiological culture methods. Results demonstrate successful aerosol inactivation, with a 92.1% reduction achieved with only 5 pulses of UV-rich light (P=<0.0002). Inactivation using continuous UV light was also investigated in order to quantify the comparative efficacy of these antimicrobial light sources. Overall, results provide evidence of the comparative efficacy of pulsed and continuous UV light for inactivation of airborne bacterial contamination. For practical application, given the safety restrictions limiting its application for decontamination of unoccupied environments, or within sealed enclosures such as air handling units, the reduced treatment times with PUV provides significant operational advantages over continuous light treatment.