Does UV light kill coronavirus on surfaces? How about in the air?

Infection and Spread Staying Safe

UVC light, a certain wavelength of UV light, has been used for many years to kill certain viruses. It is often called germicidal ultraviolet light. Here is what we know to date about UVC light and SARS-CoV-2.

Most UVC light is blocked by the ozone layer. This means that there is not sufficient UVC light in the earth’s atmosphere to kill coronaviruses outside.

UVC light is very harmful to the eyes and skin of humans. UVC light products should not be used on people. Instead, systems do exist to safely treat surfaces and the air with UVC light.

Effective: UVC light treatment requires the right wavelength of light for the appropriate duration of time. Despite the uptick in marketing of UV light devices for individual use, most at a reasonable price point will not destroy the virus. The safety, quality, and effectiveness of these devices are not monitored by the FDA or EPA. Commercial products do exist for use in air and water filtration systems and for surface decontamination.

Prior research shows UVC light is effective at killing other human coronaviruses in the air and on surfaces when used correctly. There is no reason to believe SARS-CoV-2 would respond differently to UVC light than other human coronaviruses, but a direct test is not possible at this time.

A new study published in the journal Nature shows significant reductions in coronavirus found in air treated with low-dose far-UVC light. This frequency of light is safe near humans and can kill viruses in the air. Further research is needed to test the use of this technology in occupied public spaces such as mass transportation.

The take home message is UVC light treatments used safely and correctly are likely to kill SARS-CoV-2 in the air and on surfaces. Existing UVC technologies exist, and new applications are being considered to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus in public and commercial spaces. The market for personal UVC devices remains unregulated and lacking evidence with many safety risks.

USA Today summary of UVC light and the novel coronavirus
Study in Nature on low-dose far-UVC light

TBT UVC light post by The Nerdy Girls

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