A new study suggests that using small doses of UV light in public spaces could cleanse the air of flu viruses and bacteria before they get to infect people.
Researchers are confident that a special type of UV light called far-UVC light in airports, hospitals, schools, and other public spaces could reduce the risk of influenza epidemics.
The research appeared this week in the online journal Scientific Reports.
Past studies have shown that broad-spectrum UVC light can kill off airborne bacteria and viruses by shattering the molecular bonds in their DNA. Common UV light-based solutions are often used to sterilize medical equipment.
- Some of the drawbacks of these solutions is that they can get people sick.
- Prolonged UV radiation can lead to skin cancer and cataracts.
Lead author Dr. David J. Brenner and his team found that a narrow spectrum of UV light known as far-UVC light could successfully kill invisible bugs without harming nearby people.
Germ-killing Far-UVC Light Harmless to People
This type of light cannot go through the dead-cell barrier on our skin or the protective outer layer of the human eye, so it is theoretically safe for humans. This is because bacteria and viruses are smaller than human cells and the light can damage their DNA directly.
Dr. Brenner’s experiments showed that far-UVC light can wipe out MRSA bacteria, which causes wounds to get infected in operating rooms, without destroying the human tissue.
Influence can get transmitted from person to person airborne when the carrier sneezes, coughs or even talks. The study revealed that airborne H1N1 viruses can be successfully inactivated with very low doses of the far-UVC light. The light was as effective in killing the viruses as common UV light.
Researchers hope their method could help kill airborne influenza viruses and bacteria and prevent people from falling ill with the flu or tuberculosis.
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