Wrong spectrum: thousands of fake lamps for air purification "walk" across Russia
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Wrong spectrum: thousands of fake lamps for air purification "walk" across Russia

16 February , 16:29Technology
It is no secret that during the coronavirus pandemic, a variety of devices for disinfecting the air in enclosed spaces are extremely popular. Of course, scammers are happy to use this situation by offering customers devices that are completely unsuitable for these purposes.

Expert Arkady Voloshin shares his concerns about this with Novye Izvestia.

These are various ultraviolet (UV) irradiators. The most popular are closed ones - the so-called. bactericidal recirculators, devices that disinfect the air in the presence of people and animals. This is, perhaps, the only way to continuously purify the air from viruses and bacteria. It is not for nothing that sanitary doctors, represented by Rospotrebnadzor, require the presence of such devices wherever there are risks of infection - in schools, preschool institutions, offices, restaurants and cafes, in all government organizations, in production. Of course, in medical institutions. UV recirculators have become very popular in everyday life. The demand for devices for vehicles is gaining momentum.

Moreover, they are needed not only "against" the coronavirus, all flu, ARVI, all diseases spreading by airborne droplets are well controlled using the described devices.

In connection with the avalanche increase in demand, dozens, if not hundreds of manufacturers rushed to the production of recirculators, from large factories to small workshops. The deficit has been eliminated. But what happened as a result?

Just a few words of theory. Pathogenic viruses and bacteria are killed (scientifically - deactivated) by ultraviolet rays. This property has been known for a long time and has been well studied. But not all ultraviolet light is good. Only radiation with a wavelength of 254 + - nanometers (nM) has such properties.

This wavelength is possessed by the spectral line of mercury. Therefore, lamps that induce such radiation are sometimes called "mercury" lamps. At the same time, there is no mercury in the usual form in the lamps. There are only couples. This is enough to activate the required 254 nM.

Moreover, the lamp emits not only this wavelength. There is more “shortwave” radiation with a wavelength below 180 nM. These wavelengths cause the formation of a gas called ozone. This gas is very poisonous, dangerous to humans and animals. For some cases, the use of ozone is justified, but people and animals cannot be in a room with such radiation, and after use such rooms must be thoroughly ventilated.

But what about the recirculators mentioned? After all, they have to work in premises where people are constantly present!

And for such cases, a special "ozone-free" lamp was developed. The glass in this lamp does not transmit rays with a wavelength below 200 nM. This glass is called "uviol". Wikipedia talks in detail about this type of glass . So, in germicidal lamps for recirculators, lamps made of uviol glass, ozone-free lamps should be used.

Bactericidal lamp is a low-pressure electric mercury gas-discharge lamp with a bulb made of uviol glass or other material that provides a specified spectrum of ultraviolet radiation transmission. Ultraviolet radiation has disinfecting properties, which gave the lamp its name.

What does the spectrum of such a lamp look like?

Спектр каччественной безозоновой лампы

And here is what such a lamp itself looks like. More precisely - lamps. There are many types of them, but they must all be made of a certain type of uviol glass. Well, there must be mercury vapors inside. It is clear that the outwardly special nature of glass and lamps based on it is not determined in any way. The glass is transparent, without shades, no mercury vapor is visible.

Безозоновая бактерицидная лампа

We have a rule at our company. Previously it was called STP (enterprise standard), now it is a business procedure. The bottom line is that upon receipt of each batch of materials and components, the technical control department selects a certain proportion of the received products and tests them according to a number of criteria.

Of course, the lamps go through the procedure without fail.

To be honest, back in the spring we "stumbled upon" a batch of lamps that outwardly did not differ in any way, but their spectrogram was completely absent from the 254 nm line. Absolutely!

What does this mean? First of all, these lamps will not in any way affect the vital activity of viruses and bacteria. And this is the main point! Those. we can safely say that their "bactericidal" is zero!

Where could such lamps come from? There are several options (depending on the spectrum we found).

These can be lamps for tanning beds, they can simply be used for illumination with violet light (decorative lighting). In the end, there may be just a defective batch of lamps in their production.

But such lamps were not supposed to be supplied as germicidal!

We then postponed this batch, returned it to the supplier and ...forgotten.

But such facts began to be repeated! And this is no longer an accident!

Where did the suppliers of these lamps go? Most likely they were resold to other clients. Maybe cheaper than "regular" high quality lamps.

In October 2020, we receive a batch of lamps in the amount of 3000 pieces. We check the sample obtained from different packages and see that their spectrum does not correspond to the required one.

Here it is:

Спектр ламп ненадлежащего качества

The services draw up an act and return the products to the supplier, who promises to replace them with suitable lamps.

And in November (11/16/2020) we receive a batch of lamps in exchange for defective ones. And… again without radiation at 254 nm! No, these were not the same lamps, they were visually different, and the markings were different!

Бракованная лампа, которая внешне ничем не отличается от качественной

We will return them to the supplier again, see the acceptance certificate.

Акт забракования

Thus, we can conclude: a significant number of dubious lamps "walk" around the country, these are thousands, and most likely tens of thousands!

With a high degree of probability, it can be argued that there are always buyers for such a “smelly product”, because they are cheaper than a quality product.

We can assume two situations - the seller simply does not know about such a "trifle" as the discrepancy of the goods to the declared characteristics, because there is a passport, there is information in customs documents, import certification. Well, and option 2 - this is deliberately done, and then it is already from the category of evil, explicitly misleading the consumer, here it already smells of "criminal"!

Let's figure out what will happen if your device has such lamps, which are discussed above?

As a matter of fact, nothing terrible will happen, except for one thing - there will be no bactericidal effect! Those. You think that you are protecting yourself and your loved ones, your clients, but in fact viruses are "alive and well." Decide for yourself how important it is for you that the device really disinfects the air, or is it enough for you to have it available for inspections by Rosportrebnadzor?

So what to do? We don't have a ready-made recipe. We think that many small manufacturers of recirculators that have appeared on the market simply do not realize all the risks, their task is simple - to buy cheaper materials in order to offer a lower price! Many of them do not fully understand what this spectrum is, why it may be “wrong”. Let's be honest - not everyone can appreciate the quality of lamps! After all, for this, at least, you need to have a special device called a spectrograph, and, moreover, a device included in the register of measuring instruments, duly verified.

But the consumer, the purchaser, must think many times before being tempted by an openly low price. Remember about "free cheese", think not only about the benefits, but also your ultimate consumer. All this is called "karma", is it worth spoiling it for the sake of an extra ruble? Yes, and earlier it was called conscience! ..

I strongly recommend that when organizing procurement tender procedures, include a requirement for mandatory measurement of the bactericidal effectiveness of the lamps used, and the availability of the above-mentioned devices from the supplier.

I think it is worth paying attention to the problem and the regulatory authorities.

After all, everyone needs us to provide a real fight against viruses and bacteria, not an imitation of such a fight!"

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