Far-UVC: Columbia University Researchers Show That Far-UVC Light Kills 99.9 Percent Of Airborne Coronaviruses While Being Safe For Humans
A new study by researchers from Columbia University Irving Medical Center has found that more than 99.9% of seasonal coronaviruses present in airborne droplets were killed when exposed to far-UVC, a particular wavelength of ultraviolet light that is safe to use around humans.
The research findings were published in the journal: Scientific Reports
The research's lead author Dr David Brenner, Ph.D., Higgins Professor of Radiation Biophysics at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and director of the Center for Radiological Research at Columbia University Irving Medical Center told Thailand Medical News, "Based on our results, continuous airborne disinfection with far-UVC light at the current regulatory limit could greatly reduce the level of airborne virus in indoor environments occupied by people."
Current conventional germicidal UVC light (254 nm wavelength) can be used to disinfect unoccupied spaces such as empty hospital rooms or empty subway cars, but direct exposure to these conventional UV lamps is not possible in occupied public spaces, as this could be a health hazard.
In order to continuously and safely disinfect occupied indoor areas, researchers at Columbia University Irving Medical Center have been investigating far-UVC light (222 nm wavelength). Far-UVC light cannot penetrate the tear layer of the eye or the outer dead-cell layer of skin so it cannot reach or damage living cells in the body.
The study team had previously shown that far-UVC light can safely kill airborne influenza viruses.
The recent research findings extend their past research to seasonal coronaviruses, which are structurally similar to the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19.
The researchers used a misting device to aerosolize two common coronaviruses in the study. The aerosols containing coronavirus were then flowed through the air in front of a far-UVC lamp. After exposure to far-UVC light, the researchers tested to see how many of the viruses were still alive.
The researchers found that more than 99.9% of the exposed virus had been killed by a very low exposure to far-UVC light.
From the results, the researchers estimate that continuous exposure to far-UVC light at the current regulatory limit would kill 90% of airborne viruses in about 8 minutes, 95% in about 11 minutes, 99% in about 16 minutes, and 99.9% in about 25 minutes.
The high sensitivity of the coronaviruses to far-UVC light suggests that it may be feasible and safe to use overhead far-UVC lamps in occupied indoor public places to markedly reduce the risk of person-to-person transmission of coronaviruses, as well as other viruses such as influenza.
In another separate ongoing study, the researchers are testing the efficacy of far-UVC light against airborne SARS-CoV-2. Preliminary data suggest that far-UVC light is just as effective at killing SARS-CoV-2.
Dr Brenner said, "Far-UVC light does not really discriminate between coronavirus types, so we expected that it would kill SARS-CoV-2 in just the same way. Since SARS-CoV-2 is largely spread via droplets and aerosols that are coughed and sneezed into the air it's important to have a tool that can safely inactivate the virus while it's in the air, particularly while people are around."
Dr Brenner continues, "Because it's safe to use in occupied spaces like hospitals, buses, planes, trains, train stations, schools, restaurants, offices, theaters, gyms, and anywhere that people gather indoors, far-UVC light could be used in combination with other measures, like wearing face masks and washing hands, to limit the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and other viruses."
There are now many companies selling UV light bulbs and apparatus conforming to the 222 nm wavelength that is safe for humans however avoid products from China or those sold on certain ecommerce platforms as many despite claiming to be far-UVC and saying that its 222 nm wavelength bulbs are fake and are actually merely the ordinary 254 nm wavelength bulbs which are harmful to humans.
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