Could UV light help to fight the spread of coronavirus?

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Researchers are exploring whether a certain type of UV light could curb person-to-person transmission of coronavirus. In a world that's trying to reimagine large public spaces, this work could prove extremly useful.

Fred Maxik is a former NASA scientist and the founder and chief scientific officer of Healthe, a company that has produced what it claims is the first-ever human-safe Far-UVC technology to battle coronavirus.

“We’ve known for decades that UV light is a powerful disinfectant, but prior products were not safe for human exposure," Maxik said in a statement. "Our products utilize a specific wavelength of Far-UVC light that is similarly effective in killing viruses and bacteria but does not harm humans because it cannot penetrate our skin or eyes. It represents a new light that we can live with, not one we need to run from.”

A recent Columbia University study found that Far-UVC's narrow band of wavelengths is short enough to not damage human cells but can still kill small viruses and bacteria on various surfaces and in the air.

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The researchers say far-UVC lighting could be deployed in hospitals, schools, airplanes, airports and other transportation hubs—anywhere where people congregate.

The researchers say far-UVC lighting could be deployed in hospitals, schools, airplanes, airports and other transportation hubs—anywhere where people congregate. (Columbia Center for Radiological Research)

The technology could be deployed in places where healthcare providers tend to the sick -- along with other public spaces such as mass transit hubs.

For example, Far-UVC light could radiate from doorways and decontaminate the hair, skin and clothes of those entering a building, whether they know they’re carrying the virus or not.

"The interest in what we’ve done has expanded to office environment, retail environment, transportation environment – there’s a lot of interest in seeing how we can utilize this type of light in ways that will help us approach this new normal,” he told Boston 25 News.

Healthe has begun to ship its "cleanse portals" and other devices used to kill bacteria to several companies in the U.S.

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As of Thursday afternoon, the coronavirus has infected 1,250,805 people and killed at least 75,423 in the United States.