This review evaluates the applicability and relative contribution of ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) to disinfection of air in health care facilities. A section addressing the use of UVGI for environmental surfaces is also included. The germicidal susceptibility of biologic agents is addressed, but with emphasis on application in health care facilities. The balance of scientific evidence indicates that UVGI should be considered as a disinfection application in a health care setting only in conjunction with other well-established elements, such as appropriate heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems; dynamic removal of contaminants from the air; and preventive maintenance in combination with through cleaning of the care environment. We conclude that although UVGI is microbiocidal, it is not "ready for prime time" as a primary intervention to kill or inactivate infectious microorganisms; rather, it should be considered an adjunct. Other factors, such as careful design of the built environment, installation and effective operation of the HVAC system, and a high level of attention to traditional cleaning and disinfection, must be assessed before a health care facility can decide to rely solely on UVGI to meet indoor air quality requirements for health care facilities. More targeted and multiparameter studies are needed to evaluate the efficacy, safety, and incremental benefit of UVGI for mitigating reservoirs of microorganisms and ultimately preventing cross-transmission of pathogens that lead to health care-associated infections.
(c) 2010 Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, Inc. Published by Mosby, Inc. All rights reserved.