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Using UV light to kill viruses like COVID-19

For decades, scientists have known about the disinfection ability of ultraviolet wavelengths, specifically germicidal UV (also known as UV-C).

In recent years, germicidal UV helped stop the spread of numerous pathogens like the flu and the superbug. Can germicidal UV also fight the novel coronavirus (or COVID-19)?

The COVID-19 situation is rapidly changing, and it's causing priorities to shift for a lot of us. Protecting patients, customers, workers, and our families is more important than ever before. Disinfecting frequently used surfaces is extremely important, and UV light is very effective at inactivating pathogens like viruses and bacteria.

Germicidal UV products tout pathogen kill rates higher than a 99.9% rate. Because of their effectiveness, they're incredibly useful right now for hospitals, medical labs, senior care centers, fire and police stations, airports, and transit stations but can also be used in schools, government buildings, office buildings, and hotels.

We explain what germicidal UV is, how it works, and the advantages for commercial buildings.

What is UV-C or germicidal UV light?

Germicidal UV or UV-C is part of the ultraviolet spectrum best known for its ability to inactivate pathogens like bacteria and viruses. It utilizes specific wavelengths of the ultraviolet spectrum, typically between 200 to 280 nanometers.

Germicidal UV is typically used to disinfect rooms and surfaces. COVID-19 can live on certain surfaces for up to three days, so it's critical to disinfect at regular intervals.

The Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) recently released a report on germicidal UV, and notes that UV-C is the most effective at disinfection.

Although the science behind germicidal UV has been around for a long time, it hasn't been widely used in the U.S. until recently. The CDC and FEMA started to endorse the use in hospitals in the early 2000s. Since then, several medical reviews have noted the effectiveness and usage has jumped in the last 13 years.


 


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