Scientists from the Cleveland VA Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio, are eyeing a specific type of ultraviolet (UV) light called far UV-C as a solution for reducing airborne as well as surface transmissions of COVID-19.

Because current disinfection strategies reportedly have very fast rates of recontamination between cleaning episodes and conventional UV light can reportedly damage the skin and eyes — meaning that the UV can only be used in unoccupied spaces — the researchers are eyeing solutions for continuously decontaminating occupied rooms.

Specifically, the research team is assessing far UV-C. With its shorter wavelength of 222 nm — which is shorter than conventional germicidal UV-C light with its wavelength of 254 nm — far UV-C light reportedly does not penetrate as deeply into tissue as conventional UV-C light.

Further, a study published in 2020 determined that far-UVC kills over 99.9% of airborne coronaviruses in roughly 25 minutes.

During a trial of far UV-C light in a dental office in Ohio where far UV-C lamps were installed in treatment rooms, the researchers reported that following thousands of hours of work, there were no adverse effects reported. Consequently, far UV-C has emerged as a promising continuous decontamination technology.

“A novel approach that could accelerate implementation of far UV-C would only deliver far UV-C when a room is empty. We are currently evaluating this intermittent approach for decontamination of equipment rooms, bathrooms, sinks, and patient rooms,” the researchers added.

The so-called first-of-its-kind study, “222 nm far-UVC light markedly reduces the level of infectious airborne virus in an occupied room,” appears in the journal Scientific Reports.

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