LARGE ENVIRONMENTS: Vatican Museums, UVC disinfection of the equipment offered to visitors

The Vatican Museums in Rome, Italy, were attracting over 5 million visitors in 2022, making them one of the most visited museum complexes in the world.

The Vatican Museums offer audioguides to enhance visitors' experience while exploring the museum's extensive collection. Audioguides are offered in multiple languages and the rental fee is often included in the entrance ticket price. Consequently, an average of 4.000 audioguides per day are offered to the public.

The headsets included in the audioguides are disposable and thrown away after every tour. The microphones used by tour guides are reusable and pass from one guide to another at the end of each tour.

Main challenges:
- Convert to reusable headsets instead of disposable ones, to gain advantages in terms of environmental impact and potential cost savings
- Maintain proper hygiene for reusable audioguides to ensure the safety and well-being of visitors
- Maintain proper hygiene for reusable microphones to ensure the safety of guides
- Ensure the safety of the personnel who manage the equipment during the delivery and collection of the audio guides to the visitors and guides

Hand sanitizer stations have been placed near the area where visitors pick up or return audioguide devices and they are encouraged to clean their hands before and after using the equipment.

But the same audioguide devices should be regularly cleaned and sanitized. And the use of appropriate cleaning agents or innovative solutions that are safe for electronic devices is crucial to avoid damaging the equipment.

Museum administrators involved in the decision-making process, decided to use UV-C light sterilization chambers to disinfect audioguide devices, including headsets and microphones. Equipment is made of UV-resistant plastics and in general, the life cycle of such equipment specifically headsets and microphones is lower than possible negative effects of UV light on the same.

The Light Progress UV-BOX is tested by the Department of Molecular Medicine of the University of Siena, Italy, for efficacy up to 99% reduction of Bacillus, E. Coli, Clostridium, Legionella, Vibrio, Salmonella, Pseudomonas, Staphylococcus, etc. in just 3 minutes of operation.

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Ultraviolet rays are electromagnetic waves which are part of light. Electromagnetic waves are divided into three main wavelength bands, expressed in nanometers, nm: Ultraviolet rays (UV) 100-400 nm Visible rays (light) 400-700 nm Infrared rays (IR) 700-800,000 nm UV rays are in turn identified in three bands:

  • UV-A (315-400 nm) with tanning properties;
  • UV-B (280-315 nm) con proprietà terapeutiche e di sintesi della vitamina "D";
  • UV-C (100-280 nm) with germicidal properties.

UV-C rays (100-280 nm) have a strong germicidal effect and reach their maximum efficacy at the 265 nm wavelength. The germicidal effect of UV-C radiation covers bacteria, viruses, spores, fungi, moulds and mites; this is mainly due to the destructive effect of the UV-C rays on their DNA, which damage their reproductive system and prevent them from replicating.

Bacteria, Viruses, Spores, Fungi, Mould, and Mites are all sensitive to, and can therefore be eliminated with, UV-C light. Mircrobes cannot acquire resistance to UV-C light, unlike that which occurs using chemical disinfectants and antibiotics. UV rays are ecological. Polluting the environment is inevitable using normal disinfectants. Directly inhaling the vapours, or swallowing food products contaminated by any contact with said chemical disinfectants, can also give rise to a number of serious risks. In cases where chemical disinfectants cannot be eliminated (food, pharmaceutical, healthcare industries, etc.), using ultraviolet rays for disinfection allows a reduction in their use, with considerable economic savings and greater care for the environment, while maintaining and almost always improving the level of disinfection. UV-C light devices can be installed in environments and on machinery and be programmed to maintain the same level of disinfection day and night, guaranteeing ideal hygiene conditions, without highs and lows. On the contrary, chemical disinfectants are effective only during their actual use. Using LIGHT PROGRESS equipped luminaires, operating costs are negligible; it could be said that “LIGHT PROGRESS” UV-C systems do not require maintenance except for the normal replacement of the lamps. The cost/benefit ratio is considered excellent; the devices are both powerful and long-lasting. Hence the elimination of germs using UV-C technology is low-cost and highly effective compared to (or in combination with) other systems.

UV-C really does work when applied correctly and with the necessary precautions. The difference between a quality project and an unsuccessful application is in-depth knowledge and experience gained over time. Since 1987, Light Progress has been carrying out successful projects all over the world and has acquired a clientele of major companies in all sectors that require verified hygienic conditions to produce quality products and services.