Are Ultraviolet Sanitizing Lights Safe for Humans?
A desperate need for sanitizers is making people look for options beyond the spray nozzle. For a couple of businesses and homeowners in New York, that means installing experimental lighting in their entryways intended to disinfect pathogens without harming humans.
Studies indicate that the “far-UV” disinfecting light does an excellent job of ruining the genetic material inside some pathogens, such as the H1N1 virus or the MRSAbacteria. All that occurs whileleaving mammal skin cells relatively unharmed.
However, the installation of far-UVC lights in the real world has amazed some experts. In March, the FDA published a document allowing UVC devices to be used in hospital settings during the COVID-19 emergency. Nonetheless, there is no published research on how far-UVC may or may not affect humans exposed for long periods. That is an important aspect that requires scientific research, seeing that some types of UV light damage skin and eyes.
Safe for Humans, But Not for Pathogens
According to the Columbia University research team that came up with the concept, “Far-UVC” light is supposed to be the exception to this rule. The term “far-UVC” refers to a specific division of UVC wavelengths. The light that falls within this narrow variety appears to get absorbed by superficial and nonliving layers of the eyes and skin. On the latter, for instance, the top two layers are always dead skin cells. By taking in all the UV light, even that produced by a handheld UV light device,dead cells protect living cells beneath them from harm.
However, pathogens floating alone in the air lack a barrier of dead cells that can come between the far-UVC and their precious genetic material. In theory, if a person breathes out clouds of microbes and stands under a far-UVC light, the beams would crush the bacterial DNA but would not get past your nonliving tissues to your healthy skin and eye cells.
The Columbia University lab that first pitched the term “far-UVC”has illustrated the effectiveness of UV light at disinfecting at least the H1N1 virus and the MRSAbacteria. Remarkably, the team is working on crowdfunding research on the virus causing our pandemic: COVID-19.
There have been studies that have looked at how humans fare when spending a lot of time under far-UVC light. Nonetheless, only completed research looking for health problems from regular exposure has been in mice. In one of these studies, the rodents occasionally sat under the rays for ten weeks and did not develop any tumors.