Using UV Light to Combat Coronavirus

The deeper we get into the COVID-19 pandemic, the more theories start to develop as to how to defeat the virus once and for all. The scientific community is working at a breakneck pace to test valid treatment and disinfecting options so the world can get back on track. However, there are a lot of misconceptions out there with potentially dangerous consequences for consumers.


CAN I SEE COVID-19 WITH UV LIGHT?

UV or blue light is often used to help identify areas of contamination that the naked eye misses. These light sources cause certain substances to fluoresce, calling out areas that need to be cleaned or decontaminated. However, while UV or blue light can help you find potentially contaminated areas, they cannot identify specific pathogens and viruses. For precise results, samples of the fluorescing area should be tested. UV and blue light can be used in combination with different colored glasses/goggles (red, yellow, or orange) to enhance the fluorescence effect. Users should test various goggles with the light to find the best result. Ideally, you should use the light in dark conditions, on a dried substance, with the appropriate goggles.


CAN I USE UV LIGHT TO CLEAN AND DISINFECT INFECTED AREAS?

UV or blue light can be used in conjunction with proper disinfectants to properly sanitize an infected area. Do not rely on UV or blue light alone to disinfect. It’s recommended to view the area under UVA light, identify potential contaminants, clean the area manually, and repeat until the contamination is no longer visible. Dr. William Rutala, a nationally recognized expert in disinfection and sterilization, said in a recent interview for Healthcare Hygiene Magazine, “The rationale for rigorous manual cleaning/disinfection before use of UV technology, for example, is that organic material can interfere with disinfection technologies. Thus, surfaces must be cleaned/disinfected prior to use of automated disinfection technology [UV lights and lamps].” All cleaning and disinfecting of vehicles or high touch items like stretchers, rails, floors, walls, and work surfaces should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected using an EPA registered hospital grade disinfectant in accordance with the product label. See examples here of how a blue or UV light can help visualize the cleanliness of a contaminated area. UVA lights will not specify what is fluorescing, but they will identify what is a potentially harmful substance that needs cleaning.


WILL UV LIGHT KILL COVID-19?

Yes, but it is not advised. There are three main factors required to kill COVID-19 with a UV light; wavelength, intensity, and exposure time.

  1. Wavelength Research has shown that UV light can kill COVID-19 along with other pathogens, bacteria, and viruses. However, the wavelength needed to do so is in the 100 - 280nm range (also known as UVC light). While bactericidal and germicidal, these UVC lights are also carcinogenic and can damage the skin and eyes quickly.

  2. Intensity A significant amount of intensity is required from the UVC light to have the desired effect. This intensity is currently only available from UV lamps. While more intensity gives the light more ‘virus-killing power’, it also increases collateral damage done to human tissue.

  3. Exposure Many lights these days are LED-based, which don’t carry much light intensity. So to achieve the desired result of killing COVID-19, the contaminated area would have to be exposed to the proper UVC light for an extended period of time. Solutions suggesting you can just fly or move over an infected area with a UV light to kill a virus are exaggerated and most likely unfounded.

Most forensic light sources (including FoxFury's lights) use UVA, which is 320 - 400nm. These wavelengths require a long exposure to kill anything, which means they would be impractical for use in killing COVID-19. It is the official recommendation of the World Health Organization to not use UV light or lamps to sterilize hands or other parts of the body. To quote Dan Arnold of UV Light Technology, “UVC is really nasty stuff – you shouldn't be exposed to it. It can take hours to get sunburn from UVB (280 - 320nm), but with UVC it takes seconds. If your eyes are exposed… you know that gritty feeling you get if you look at the sun? It’s like that times 10, just after a few seconds.”


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