On May 2020, WebMD reported about the possibility that ultraviolet light technology can zap viruses and bacteria. It has long been used to cut down the spread of drug-resistant superbugs and to disinfect suits.
Jim Malley, PhD, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of New Hampshire, said that the technology has probably been around for 100 years and has shown success. Then on March, there has been a growing interest in research funding to institutions around the world to study the technology.
The kind of light researchers are looking at is the ultraviolet C (UVC) which is proven to have sanitizing effects on other coronaviruses, including the severe acute syndrome (SARS).
Signify's UV Light Technology
New research has now emerged that the ultraviolet lights from the world's largest lighting maker, Signify, shows that exposure to it can "degrade" the coronavirus in a matter of seconds. The test was conducted by the researchers at Boston University, and Signify announced its discovery on Tuesday.
According to a news article from the New York Post, the sun's rays are already known to destroy the viruses outdoors. The lighting company, Signify, hopes that their product can be used to reduce coronavirus in indoors and plans to make it available to other lighting companies as well.
Signify CEO, Eric Rondolat told CNBC's "Squawk Box Europe" that ultraviolet light particles can disrupt virus DNA chains, making them ineffective.
"We knew that it (UV light) was effective against viruses in general, but we didn't know if it was the case with COVID-19, so we worked with Boston University," he said. The group carried out tests for many times, and the metrics showed quite interesting results.
UV Mild Eradicates 96% of Coronavirus
According to Rondolat, Signify's UV light can eradicate 96% of the coronavirus within three seconds of exposure. Plus, it could go as high as 99% for six seconds of exposure.
"It's a preventive measure, meaning we are disinfecting objects, environments, surfaces, and the air," Rondiolat said. He also thinks that schools, offices, hospitals, warehouses and manufacturing plants will all need to be disinfected in the future using the UV light technology.
Moreover, retailers such as those selling clothes may use a UV light chamber to disinfect clothes after people have tried them on, said Rondolat.
This new technology could provide a new revenue system for Signify, which fell 15% on its revenue during this year's first quarter.
Risks of Using UV Light
Though this technology shows promising results, UV light could do harm to the skin, according to CNET.
Dr Tyler Hollmig, director of dermatological surgery at University of Texas Dell Medical School in Austin, said that UV light is classified into three types based on wavelength. The UVA (longest wavelength) is associated with ageing and skin cancers, UVB (middle wavelength) associated with skin burn and most skin cancers, and UVC (shortest wavelength) probably the most toxic.
Luckily, the atmosphere filters out UVC so that the eyes and skin are not directly exposed to it.
Lighting firm Signify says one of its ultraviolet lights can “degrade” coronavirus particles in a matter of seconds. https://t.co/jjGCuoYDPa — CNBC (@CNBC) June 17, 2020