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Using UV light to kill coronavirus: The benefits and risks

The Challenge

The quality of the air we breathe, the water we drink and the cleanness of surfaces all have a profound effect on our health and well-being. We’re all at risk of contracting or spreading viruses and bacteria, but none more so than vulnerable patients who are being cared for in hospital and healthcare settings. Because any form of viral infection can complicate their recovery. And while our UV-C lamps don't treat people directly, they can make a difference by helping to neutralize viruses and bacteria that might present a danger.

UV-C radiation is a known disinfectant for air, water and surfaces that can help mitigate the risk of acquiring an infection and has been used extensively for more than 40 years. All bacteria and viruses tested to date (many hundreds over the years, including various coronaviruses) respond to UV-C disinfection. There are no known pathogens resistant to UV-C. A clear indication that UV-C light can play a valuable part in your protection strategy.

What is UV technology?

Ultra-Violet (UV) light is invisible to the human eye and is divided into UV-A, UV-B and UV-C. 

• UVA: This is the lowest-energy form of UV, and it accounts for about 95% of the ultraviolet light that reaches the Earth from the sun. It can penetrate deep into the skin’s layers, which makes it responsible for the early tanning effect. It also contributes to skin aging, wrinkling and possibly skin cancer.

• UVB: This higher-energy type of ultraviolet light can permeate the skin’s superficial layers. It’s responsible for delayed tanning (and burning), and is a big contributor to skin cancer and aging. Most of the UVB that comes our way is absorbed by the Earth’s ozone layer, so it only makes up about 5% of the solar UV that reaches Earth.

• UVC: The highest-energy category of ultraviolet light — any higher and you’d be in X-ray territory — is also the most damaging. Luckily, the ozone layer and atmosphere completely absorb it.

The UV light used in medical disinfection devices is a particular wavelength of UVC. UV-C is found within 100-280 nm range. In the graph can be seen that germicidal action is maximized at 265 nm with reductions on either side. Sun Lighting Low pressure UV-C lamps have their main emission at 254 nm where the action on DNA is 85% of the peak value and 80% on the IES curve. As a result, our germicidal lamps are extremely effective in breaking down the DNA of micro-organisms. This means that they cannot replicate and cause disease.

Micro-organisms effective resistance to UV light varies considerably. Moreover, the environment of the particular micro-organism greatly influences the radiation dose needed for its destruction. UV rays are also high-energy, so while we can’t see them, we certainly feel their effects. For instance, ultraviolet light generated by the sun is what gives you a tan — or a sunburn. It can also lead to skin cancer.

How do UV light hand sanitizers work? 

There's man-made UV-C light, too: It's what's in the UV light sanitizers that companies claim kill the coronavirus. It works because UV-C light is strong enough to destroy the genetic material -- either DNA or RNA -- of viruses and bacteria. There's no evidence right now that typical sun exposure can kill the coronavirus, so no, going outside on a sunny day won't reduce your risk of catching it.

Sun Lighting offers a full range of UV lamps including Portable UV Wand,  Desktop UV Sterilization Lamp and LED UV Light Bar for cabinet & wardrobe etc, which are suitable for use in various applications to clean your personal items, clothing and air. Our UV lights are the latest popular tools in the ongoing race to find ways to prevent yourself from catching SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Ultraviolet light can penetrate the cells of pathogens and damage the DNA or RNA that contain their genetic code. There’s also some evidence that UV can damage the amino acids and proteins that either protect the virus or allow it to attach to and infect a host cell.

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