The Three Types of UV Rays
There are three different types of UV rays and there's a common misconception that they all do the same thing. While they are similar, each type of ray has a different wavelength and can penetrate surfaces to a certain extent.
UV-A has the longest wavelength of 320-400 nm and is responsible for 95% of the UV radiation that reaches the Earth's surface. These rays penetrate deep into the skin and are a factor in premature aging.
UV-B is likely the UV ray you are most familiar with, as it is what will give you sunburns and possibly skin cancer (shameless plug for sunscreen!). This ray has a wavelength of 280-320 nm.
How Does UV Light Sanitize?
UV-C is our shining star here at PhoneSoap. UV-C light has a short wavelength of 100-280 nm and is an ultraviolet light that breaks apart DNA and RNA, leaving it unable to function or reproduce. In other words, UV-C light is germicidal (UV-A and UV-B light are not). UV-C can even neutralize "superbugs" that have developed a resistance to antibiotics.
"Ultraviolet technology is a non-chemical approach to disinfection, nothing is added which makes this process simple, inexpensive and requires very low maintenance. Ultraviolet purifiers utilize germicidal lamps that are designed and calculated to produce a certain dosage of ultraviolet."
History of UV and Sanitation
Sanitizing with UV-C light has been a standard practice since the mid-20th century. The 1903 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Niels Finsen for using UV-C light to fight tuberculosis. Hospitals and laboratories today use UV-C light to maintain sterile environments. Because cell phones are often kept in dark, warm places like pockets or purses, they are the perfect breeding grounds for bacteria and the perfect candidates for UV sanitation.
In the same way that UV-C can't give you a sunburn or skin cancer, UV-A and UV-B can't disinfect your phone. So no...you can't just leave your phone outside in the sun for a while and expect all the bacteria to die.
Now that you know the difference between the three different types of UV rays, you can educate the masses. Knowledge is power! (And a clean phone!)