UV-C radiation also proves to be advantageous in combating the pandemic, as light disinfection is quick and efficient. Completely dispensing with chemical cleaning agents is also an environmentally friendly and effective decontamination solution for many applications. Yet, at the same time it is also hazardous for people and material. But what exactly is UVC radiation, what makes it so hazardous and what does this all have to do with LAPP?
What is UVC?
UVC radiation is the term for particularly high-energy ultraviolet radiation (UV) in the 100 to 280 nm (nanometers) wavelength range. Just like UVB radiation with a wavelength range of 280 to 315 nm and UVA radiation in the 315 to 400 nm range, it is generated by the sun and is also the sun's shortest UV wavelength radiation.
While the sun’s natural UVA and UVB rays penetrate to the earth’s surface and are primarily responsible for sunburn and premature skin aging, UVC rays are almost completely absorbed by the earth’s atmosphere. Humans are therefore exposed to very little to no UVC rays in nature. This is fortunate, because as the wavelength decreases, the negative impact of UV radiation on human health increases.
Is UVC harmful for your health?
The shorter the wavelength, the stronger the impact of UV radiation on human health.
UVC radiation, as the sun’s shortest UV wavelength radiation, is therefore very hazardous to our health.
If people or animals are exposed to this radiation, it damages the eyes, skin and even DNA. UVC rays are also classified as highly carcinogenic.
But not only that, a wide range of materials or material durability suffers greatly from UV-C radiation.
So why do we generate UVC radiation artificially if it is harmful to us, and the earth's atmosphere protects us so effectively against it?
What are the advantages of UVC and where is it used?
As often in life, every upside has a downside. The same is true of UVC radiation. On the one hand, it is harmful to human and animal health, yet it can make a very effective contribution to protecting it.
- For example, UVC lamps have been used for a long time for water treatment or air purification, e.g. in laboratories or in the medical and pharmaceutical sectors.
- For sterilizing water, air and surfaces, these lamps protect our health. The specific 254 nm wavelength of the UVC radiation has proven to be particularly effective here.
- Coronavirus can also be destroyed by UVC radiation, which is why it is very effective for disinfecting in combating the Covid-19 pandemic.
Conveyor belts, handrails on escalators and even entire train carriages, aircraft cabins, warehouses, operating rooms and classrooms can be decontaminated within seconds without the use of harmful chemicals.
Some of them are already in use today, while others are still in the starting blocks.
But what only sounds positive at first has its drawbacks.
How does UVC affect materials?
Every one of us knows the faded colors of magazines left in the sun or laundry dried in the sun too often. Plastic garden furniture, once snow-white, that has become yellowed, porous and dull after just a little while is another common source of annoyance. This is “only” due to the influence of UVA and UVB rays, which are longer wavelengths and therefore less aggressive than UVC rays.
UVC radiation has massive negative effects on the service life or material durability of certain materials.
For example, it destroys the macromolecules of plastics and therefore in some cases will also destroy the outer jacket materials and insulation of cables or the plastics used in cable glands and connectors.
In the long term, this can lead to material damage in the installed products or components and ultimately to failures in the machines and systems affected.
Then there are mobile products or hand-held devices whose housing and control elements become damaged from the influence of UVC radiation.
Consider the decontamination of an office, for example, where plastic frames on monitors, projectors, televisions and other products and their supply cables are exposed to the accelerated aging process resulting from the UVC radiation. This leads to premature brittleness of the plastics and premature failure due to cracks or breaks in the material.
It goes without saying that fast solutions are often called for, especially during a pandemic.
However, as the operating company or manufacturer of the individual products, you also have to ensure that plants, buildings or laboratory facilities are not damaged by the high-energy UVC radiation.
If moving components are also used, e.g. cables in the cable chain or in mobile or portable devices, the time it takes before complete failure is considerably reduced.
How can LAPP help you with this?
Once again we are one step ahead, just like in the 1990s with the introduction of our ÖLFLEX® NATUR and today with our ÖLFLEX® ROBUST products. Back then, the focus was on avoiding premature failures in cables, cable glands and connectors due to the influence of the newly introduced bio-lubricating, cooling and cutting oils, for example rapeseed.
As an innovative supplier of integrated solutions and branded products in cable and connection technology, our LAPP experts recognized the situation early on and acted accordingly.
This is because so far there have been no official studies around the impact of UVC radiation on various materials, no standardized testing or even international testing standards.
So LAPP has initiated its own testing procedures for cables that can be used to test for UVC resistance.
The following criteria were examined in the cables
- Mechanical strength
- Visual change
- Material emission
- Color change
- Odor formation
The following changes were identified in the test samples
- Brittleness and loss of elasticity
- Significant surface change
- Escape of additives
- Pronounced color fading or darkening
- Sometimes strong odor release
Our test procedure led to the following results:
All of our products with the ROBUST jacket material achieved particularly good results for use under the influence of UVC radiation. We recommend these without hesitation.
As a customer of UVC-tested products, thanks to the early action of our LAPP experts, you benefit in the following areas:
- Power and control cables
- Data cables
- Specific thermoplastic elastomers
- Certain electron beam cross-linked plastics as well as
- Special halogen-free materials.
On the other hand, all of our products with the ROBUST jacket material achieved particularly good results for use under the influence of UVC radiation. We recommend these without hesitation.
Power and control cables
For use in cable chains:
- ÖLFLEX® ROBUST FD
- ÖLFLEX® ROBUST FD C
Power and control cables
For flexible use:
- ÖLFLEX® ROBUST 200
- ÖLFLEX® ROBUST 210
- ÖLFLEX® ROBUST 215 C
Low-frequency data cables
For flexible use in the low-frequency range.
- UNITRONIC® ROBUST
- UNITRONIC® ROBUST C
- UNITRONIC® ROBUST C (TP)
Fieldbus data cables
For flexible use in the PROFIBUS-DP network.
- UNITRONIC® BUS PB ROBUST
Fieldbus data cables
For sensor/actuator wiring.
- UNITRONIC® ROBUST S/A FD
Ethernet data cables
For flexible use in Ethernet and special PROFINET networks.
- ETHERLINE® ROBUST
Why should I choose UVC-resistant products from LAPP?
Save time and money
- The lower likelihood of LAPP components failing reduces your machine downtime.
- You save time and money with longer maintenance intervals.