The world is running out of Hand sanitizers and personal protective equipment are running short as well and one of the ways to capture the recurrence of the Coronavirus pandemic is to make available all of this things but with that, Ultraviolet light might be the answer to some of the shortages. Disinfection through the use of UV Light isn’t new and the International Ultraviolet Association right behind the UV assured it’s usefulness of disinfection for over four decades.
UV can be used in a number of ways ranging from self-cleaning UV light water bottles to UV-emitting cases which cleans out dirty phones. But with the case of the Coronavirus, nothing really is certain for first, we’re dealing with a deadly virus much ruthless than the common cold and Influenza, but then again, there are even risks to using UV Light devices on human skin which is why it might be a good idea to learn more about the current state of things before ordering one so as to not put yourself in any form of risk.
So you may wonder what the Ultraviolet Light is by the way or how it works, but in a nutshell, UV light comes primarily from the sun but yeah, humans have become so intelligent that they could create a replica of anything done by nature so yeah, we’ll be talking about the man-made UV Light here. Say for example, the tanning beds, UV disinfection lamps, all are man made.
First of all, it’s worth noting that there are about three different classes of UV Light which are UV-A, UV-B and UV-C. Now, the UV-A and UV-B light both causes sunburns and premature skin aging and over exposure to them are associated with the development of skin cancer. But as for the UV-C, it has the most energy of the three and is much more harmful but that’s for Mercury and Venus to deal with because we do not have that here on earth as our atmosphere absorbs it – Big thanks to the nature!
But even though the UV-C couldn’t penetrate our beautiful planet, Scientists and engineers have been able to create one and so our focus is still going to be the UV-C because that is what is being used by companies to kill the coronavirus. Based on official reports from the National Academy of Sciences, this is probably the case as the UV Light has been used to disinfect surfaces and water for a really long time and all of which has been successful…now you wonder why life on other planets closer are very unlikely.
The way the UV-C light works is by destroying genetic materials of organism such as germs so their RNA or DNA are all ripped apart which is basically what pathogens such as bacteria and Viruses use to make copies of themselves when they gain access into human cells. With that said, there isn’t any evidence about direct sunlight exposure as a way of killing the coronavirus neither will it reduce the risk of catching it so stay clear of the sun.
UV Light can destroy various Viruses
There are scientific evidences that shows that UV Light can destroy various viruses so it might be very possible that it can also kill the SARS-CoV-2 (The Coronavirus that causes COVID-19) but there has been no publishing about this just yet but there have been continuous look into the effects of UV light on the Coronavirus.
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine reported that ultraviolet light might be able to kill the coronavirus as the report says that “The UV light has been shown to destroy other coronaviruses and so it might work on the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2)” and that also include the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS – CoV) as well as the Severe Acute Respiratory-Related Coronavirus or SARS).
The elephant in the room is that “UV light damages human skin and so it should only be used on objects or surfaces” according to the NASEM report. With that said, it might just be a bad idea to use the UV light as a hand sanitizer instead, it might just be better to stick to soap and watter or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water aren’t just available.
The World Health Organization in fact sounded the alarm that people should not use UV Lamps to disinfect their hands or other areas of their skin as UV radiation “can cause skin irritation as well as damage to the eyes”. “No UV light device should be a substitute for hand washing, mask-wearing and distancing.” Dr. Tyler Hollmig, director of dermatological surgery at University of Texas Dell Medical School in Austin.
While scientists are constantly working to reduce the powerful effects of the UV light just so it can become safe for anyone to use, the current devices available in the market aren’t safe for use on the human skin. And part of the reason for that is the fact that most of these products aren’t yet approved by the FDA or other governing bodies put in place to check the safety of these devices on humans.
It’s very important to take this with the utmost measure. According to Dr Tyler Hollmig who is the director of Dermatological surgery at the University of Texas Dell Medical School in Austin said that these devices “tend to come in many shapes, sizes and strengths and so their antimicrobial ability may be variable” which is why what you see might not be what you’ll eventually get.
Plus, Dr. Hollmig continues, as UV light devices “are often not cheap — especially relative to more standard disinfectants that we know work — these may not be the most efficacious way to clean. It is also worth at least just reinforcing the fact that no UV light device should be a substitute for hand washing, mask-wearing and distancing.”
Concerns over the usage of UV Light
Dr Hollmig continued by breaking down the UV light as it relates to the skin health. UV light is classified into types based on wavelength, he says and with UV-A light (which is the longest wavelength) being most associated with skin aging and also with certain skin cancers, UV-B light (middle wavelength) is associated with sunburn and most skin cancers.
“UV-C light has the shortest spectrum of wavelengths, but is probably the most toxic,” Dr. Hollmig says. “Fortunately, the atmosphere filters out UV-C, so our skin and eyes are typically not exposed to it.”
As mentioned earlier, the UV-C light is what’s being used to kill or inactivate microbes by destroying their nucleic acids according to Dr. Hollmig and so a proper testing and usage is necessary to ensure the effective killing of pathogens but then the power of the radiation can be really harmful to the skin. Burns canbe caused as it’s a known carcinogen, says Dr. Hollmig.
All types of UV light, “including those reaching the Earth’s surface from the sun and those emitted by tanning beds, have not been shown to be protective against the novel coronavirus and can certainly harm the skin,” Dr. Hollmig says. “Additionally, since UV sanitizers employ UV-C light, which can be dangerous, care should be taken to avoid exposure to the skin and eyes. These devices are not designed to be used to disinfect the skin and can be dangerous if used improperly.”
But the usage of consumer devices which are made primarily for disinfecting devices or surfaces should b safe to use if the instructions are followed thoroughly. Self-cleaning water bottles that use UV-C rays to kill germs should also be safe to use when properly used because they typically only work when the cap is screwed on tight, so no UV-C light can leak out.
How about your safety in a UV Light building
There are some companies that specializes in the installation of UV light fixtures in their facilities in an attempt to completely disinfect the building and mitigate the risk of contracting the COVID-19 through air or surfaces. But as UV lights are great at killing or rendering germs completely powerless in the natural environment, that can be a really good approach to take. This practice is known as “Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation” which has also been used in hospitals for a really long time so it’s nothing new in the medical industry.
There are businesses around the country that specializes in this operation making human-safe UV light fixtures as well as portl throiugh which all customers walk in an attempt to destroy any pathogens that may be living on their skin. In a press release held by Magnolia Bakery, one of such company based in the New York, said that the dose is low enough to avoid health complications such as burns or even eye irritation.
While the effectiveness of environmental UV sterilization on surfaces such as floors has been confirmed, however, further research is needed about the safety of indoor UV light fixtures, as well as its efficacy at sterilizing clothes and human skin. Also, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that UV light “germicidal effectiveness and use is influenced by organic matter, wavelength, type of suspension, temperature, type of microorganism and the UV intensity” in order to effectively kill viruses. UV-C light in this case can be emitted in a range of 200 to 280 nanometers which has potential to cause harm.
With that, there is a lot of medical considerations to be realised by manufacturers who wants to create the UV light that can kill germs on human hands. There have even been situations whereby the Federal Trade Commission called out manufacturers for making false claims about what their light-based products could do.
The International Ultraviolet Association later concur with the CDC reporting that inactivation of viruses with UV light has been “demonstrated under controlled conditions in the laboratory,” and that “the effectiveness of UV light in practice depends on factors such the exposure time and the ability of the UV light to reach the viruses in water, air, and in the folds and crevices of materials and surfaces.”
So the take home is that UV lights are very harmful to the skin but can be used on surfaces or objects such as your smartphones and other appliances to disinfect them. Also, ensure to research thoroughly abut the safety of in-home usage of UV lights from companies that installs the UV light fixtures.