UV Light Coronavirus

Special UV Lights May Be Able To Kill The Coronavirus

The healthcare industry, government workers, and global citizens alike are all patiently waiting and hoping for some sort of coronavirus treatment to be created and distributed soon so that this pandemic can become a thing of history instead of an everyday reality. 

The UC Santa Barbara’s Solid State Lighting and Energy Electronics Center (SSLEEC) and it’s member companies have been working tirelessly to develop some sort of light therapy as a potential treatment for Covid-19. Researchers at the facility have been using ultraviolet LEDs, that normally have the ability to disinfect surfaces/the air/water, to try and kill the coronavirus in a lab setting.  

“One major application [of the light therapy] is in medical situations — the disinfection of personal protective equipment, surfaces, floors, within the HVAC systems, et cetera. [My] work centers on advancing deep ultraviolet light LED technology for sanitation and purification purposes. A small market already exists for UV-C disinfection products in medical contexts,” said materials doctoral researcher Christian Zollner.

Embed from Getty Images

Ultraviolet LED light therapy has been a commonly used technique in the medical field for a while now so it makes perfect sense that, even though it’s not commonly used for treating highly-contagious viruses, scientists would want to use it to combat the coronavirus. Especially considering how this pandemic has become an “all hands on deck” situation for the whole world; scientists/healthcare workers mainly.

So far, scientists haven’t been able to record any large-scale data in relation to ultraviolet LED light and how it reacts with Covid-19, but that doesn’t mean they’re giving up hope. In an early April report from SSLEEC, researchers reported that they were able to kill 99.9% of the coronavirus using UV LED light, however, that was a small-scale contained experiment. In order for light therapy to begin to be commonly used as a treatment for Covid-19, there needs to be more evidence. 

Currently, UV LED lamp products are most commonly used for sterilization in the automotive industry, as they’re used to disinfect the interior of unoccupied vehicles. There are three main types of UV wavelengths as well. UV-A and UV-B are the types of light that we get naturally from the Sun, while UV-C is the ultraviolet light with the ability to purify air and water based on exposure; UV-C is also lab-generated and can’t be created naturally like the other two. 

Embed from Getty Images

“UV-C light in the 260 – 285 nm range most relevant for current disinfection technologies is also harmful to human skin, so for now it is mostly used in applications where no one is present at the time of disinfection. In fact, the World Health Organization warns against using ultraviolet disinfection lamps to sanitize hands or other areas of the skin —  even brief exposure to UV-C light can cause burns and eye damage,” Zollner said.

The main goal now, according to Zollner, is to work on the materials used within the process of creating UV-C so that this specific wavelength of light can be used more commonly and safely. The emergence of the coronavirus pandemic has made this goal SSLEEC’s main priority; before this entire global health crisis the group was already working hard on a way to make UV-C safer and more distributive

Since we currently don’t have any vaccines or solid drug treatments to cure Covid-19, all we can do is be diligent about how often we’re disinfecting, decontaminating, and isolating ourselves. Zollner went on to say that while many are working tirelessly on this UV-C treatment, SSLEEC has also slowed down the amount of work that’s occurring in order to protect themselves from potential exposure as well. So for now, stay inside, stay sanitized, and stay calm.