The uses and limitations of a hand-held germicidal ultraviolet wand for surface disinfection

J Occup Environ Hyg. 2017 Oct;14(10):749-757. doi: 10.1080/15459624.2017.1328106.


The morbidity and mortality from healthcare associated infections has raised concern that conventional disinfection methods are inadequate and that other adjunct methods such as room fumigation and ultraviolet irradiation may be needed. There is also concern that these alternative methods may pose a risk to workers and patients.

Objectives: (1) Determine the efficacy of a germicidal UV-C wand for surface disinfection, (2) evaluate changing relative humidity (RH) and different target distances on bacteria kill rates, and (3) assess potential exposure concerns.

Methods: This study investigates whether a hand-held germicidal wand can efficaciously disinfect surfaces treated with either a vegetative or spore forming bacterium and to evaluate the effect of changing environmental conditions such as relative humidity (RH), target position, and target distances on microbial kill rates.

Results: Kill rate was best at 40-65% RH at a temperature range of 21-24°C. Both high and low RH interfered with the ability of UV-C to kill the vegetative microbe. In the case of the spore forming bacterium, increased surface drying time was the most significant factor increasing kill rate.

Conclusions: This research demonstrates that UV-C was efficacious under optimal conditions, a direct beam exposure, and a short target distance (12.7 cm). However, there are limitations when used in non-optimal conditions. Increased distance and indirect beam angles resulted in lower kill rates. It is also important to minimize unnecessary patient and worker exposure during its use.

Keywords: Healthcare-associated infections; surface disinfection; ultraviolet (UV).

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Bacillus subtilis / radiation effects*
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Cross Infection / prevention & control
  • Disinfection / instrumentation*
  • Disinfection / methods
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Humans
  • Humidity
  • Staphylococcus epidermidis / radiation effects*
  • Temperature
  • Ultraviolet Rays*