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Germ-killing vacuum uses UV light


February 5, 2009

Oreck Halo UV vacuum cleaner

Oreck Halo UV vacuum cleaner

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February 6, 2008 Ultra violet light sterilization is a proven technology that has been with us for some time. Back in 1903 Niels Finsen was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine for his work in using UV to fight tuberculosis and these days it's a common sight in hospitals, food production facilities and science labs, as well as being used for water purification and disinfecting swimming pools. The technology is also increasingly making its way into domestic households with examples like ENPUTECH's UV sterilization wand and this innovation from Oreck - the world’s only UV equipped upright vacuum cleaner.

The Oreck Halo adds ultraviolet light to regular suction to kill germs, bacteria, viruses, allergens and mold and provide a dual-action clean for what is considered the dirtiest surface in the home - the carpet. Oreck cite independent tests by microbiologist Dr. Charles Gerba from the University of Arizona to make this point: "carpets, tile and hardwood floors can have up to 4,000 times more germs and bacteria per square inch – even after vacuuming – than the toilet seat."

Alarming? Well,slightly. One one hand the human race seems to have (broadly speaking) survived our exposure to micro-organisms to date, but this is not to discount the potential benefits of the device, particularly for those acutely vulnerable to exposure to germs and allergens. This was in fact the motivation for inventors Ken and Carrie Garcia, who developed the idea to protect their premature triplets after being told that the best option was to rip up all their carpet.

Ken developed the UV-C application in conjunction with Dr. James R. Bolton, Ph.D. and Bolton Photosciences Inc. The technology was acquired by Oreck, which specializes in products designed to aid or allergy and asthma sufferers, and the design underwent further development. Founder David Oreck sees "UV-C as the most significant emerging technology in homecare and home hygiene".

The vacuum packs two motors - one drives the “brushroll” that fluffs the carpet’s nap while the other delivers suction - and a patented light chamber which houses a UV-C bulb inside a quartz glass chamber. As you pass the vacuum across the floor, germs are killed by exposure to the UV-C light and sucked into a HEPA 13 filter bag which the company says traps 99.95 percent of the dirt and germ particles (as small as 0.3 microns) that get picked up.

For safety purposes the Halo also has a built-in shut off mechanism for the light in the event that it's turned over during use and the light will not come on if you are using attachments instead of the conventional vacuum.

How does UV-C work?

Ultraviolet light has wavelengths shorter than visible light and at a certain wavelength (253.7 nanometers) it is considered “germicidal UV”. At this range the light is mutagenic to micro-organisms, meaning that it will destroy them by breaking the molecular bonds within their DNA.

The Oreck Halo costs UDS$599.95.

About the Author
Noel McKeegan After a misspent youth at law school, Noel began to dabble in tech research, writing and things with wheels that go fast. This bus dropped him at the door of a freshly sprouted in 2002. He has been Gizmag's Editor-in-Chief since 2007.   All articles by Noel McKeegan
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