OfficesUVC Clean Air SystemsCan UVC Light Kill Viruses?

First an foremost, here are some facts about UV-C Light:

  • Ultraviolet (UV) light is a type of radiation. It has more energy than radio waves or visible light but less energy than X-rays or gamma rays.

  • You can be exposed to UV light via natural sunlight or through human-made sources like tanning beds.

  • UV light has been used as a means to kill germs like bacteria and viruses in hospitals around the world for more than 3 decades. More recently, it has been proven effective against Sars-Cov-2.

Can UV light kill germs?

There are several types of UV light. Depends on their classification according to how much energy they have.

Types of UV light:

  • UVA light has the lowest amount of energy. When you’re out in the sun, you’re mainly being exposed to UVA light. Exposure to UVA light has been linked to skin ageing and damage.

  • UVB light sits in the middle of the UV light spectrum. A small portion of sunlight contains UVB light. It’s the main type of UV light that contributes to sunburns and causes most skin cancers.

  • UVC light has the most energy. UVC light from the sun is mostly absorbed in the Earth’s ozone, so you’re not normally exposed to it on a daily basis. However, there are various human-made sources of UVC light.

What’s known about UVC light?

  1. UVC light can be used to kill viruses. Let’s look at what the research has discovered about UVC light so far.
  2. UVC light is the type of UV light that’s most effective at killing germs. It can be used to disinfect surfaces, air, and liquids.
  3. UVC light kills germs like viruses and bacteria through damaging molecules like nucleic acids and proteins. This makes the germ incapable of performing the processes that it needs to survive.

UVC light for disinfecting surfaces

Another study, also published in the AJIC, looked at using a specific type of UVC light to kill SARS-CoV-2 on laboratory surfaces. The study found that the UVC light reduced the live virus by 99.7 per cent in 30 seconds.

The type of UVC light used in this study is called far-UVC light, which is UVC light between the wavelengths of 207 and 222 nanometers.

Far-UVC light is still damaging to germs but is less of a hazard to your skin and eyes than other types of UVC light.

UVC light for disinfecting the air

One study published in the journal Scientific Reports explored using far-UVC light to kill two types of human viruses in the air. These two viruses, 229E and OC43, can cause the common cold in humans.

Based on their results with these viruses, researchers estimated that, when applied to current regulatory standards, far-UVC light could kill 99.9 percent of airborne viruses in about 25 minutes. They believe that these findings would extend to SARS-CoV-2 as well.

How is UVC light currently used to kill viruses?

Because it can effectively inactivate viruses without using chemicals, UVC light is an attractive option for disinfection. Special lamps that emit UVC light are typically used for this purpose.

Currently, the use of UVC light for disinfection is mostly limited to healthcare settings to disinfect things like:

  • surfaces

  • equipment

  • operating rooms

  • personal protective equipment (PPE), such as N95 face masks


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