Current UV light technology may reduce COVID-19 transmission indoors

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

In a new study, researchers found that UV light technology already used to prevent the spread of other airborne diseases in buildings has the potential to be effective against Covid-19.

They found that upper room UV germicidal irradiation (UVGI) can kill SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, which can be transmitted by aerosolized droplets that float in the air.

The research was conducted by a team from the Queen Mary University of London and Leeds Beckett University.

UVC is known to be very effective at ‘killing’ or inactivating, microorganisms however this type of UV light is harmful to humans.

Upper room UVGI cleverly uses UVC light to create an irradiation field above the heads of room occupants so it can disinfect the air whilst keeping people within the room safe.

In the study, the team tested the feasibility of upper-room UVGI to reduce Covid-19 transmission by analyzing published data examining the effect of UV irradiation on coronaviruses.

Evaluating all the data, the team showed that SARS-CoV-2 virus particles found in the air are likely to be susceptible to UVC, and also that the levels of UVC light required to inactivate the virus would be practical and safe for upper room applications.

It is now becoming widely accepted that transmission of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles through tiny respiratory droplets, is one of the main ways Covid-19 spreads between people.

The risk of airborne transmission is especially high in poorly ventilated buildings and there is an urgent need for technologies to reduce the spread of Covid-19 within these spaces.

The team says upper room UVGI is already a well-established technology and has proven effective to prevent the spread of other diseases such as measles and tuberculosis within buildings.

This study shows that researchers have good reason to believe this technology could also protect indoor spaces such as offices, or restaurants and bars, and help to allow us to start to return to ‘normal’ life in a safe way.

One author of the study is Professor Clive Beggs.

The study is published in the journal PeerJ.

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