Short pulses of far ultraviolet C (far-UVC) light could be utilized as a means of preventing airborne flu viruses from spreading around offices or even public areas.
Researchers at the Columbia University Medical Center found that their far-UVC light was capable of killing the MRSA bacteria without harming human skin.
The researchers tested if far-UVC light could efficiently kill aerosolized influenza virus in the air in a setting similar to a public space.
The results of the test found that when compared to a room that wasn’t exposed by the light, the flu virus was completely inactivated.
“And unlike flu vaccines, far-UVC is likely to be effective against all airborne microbes, even newly emerging strains.” said study leader David J. Brenner.
We’ve known for decades that UVC light is capable of killing bacteria and viruses by breaking down the molecular bonds that hold them together.
“Unfortunately, conventional germicidal UV light is also a human health hazard and can lead to skin cancer and cataracts, which prevents its use in public spaces,” said Brenner.
Far-UVC light has a very limited range and cannot penetrate through the outer dead-cell layer of human skin or the tear layer in the eye, so it’s not a human health hazard.
“But because viruses and bacteria are much smaller than human cells, far-UVC light can reach their DNA and kill them,” said Brenner.
In their earlier studies, Dr. Brenner’s team demonstrated that far-UVC light was effective at killing MRSA (methicillin-resistant S. aureus) bacteria, a common cause of surgical wound infections, but without harming human or mouse skin.
Researchers suggest the light could be used in schools, hospitals and other public spaces as a powerful weapon against seasonal flu epidemics as well as influenza pandemics.
The study was published in Scientific Reports. The study is titled, “Far-UVC light: A new tool to control the spread of airborne-mediated microbial diseases.”