Far-UVC Light Takes Out Airborne Flu Viruses

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Although the new findings still need to be confirmed with future studies, it's possible that one day, this light might be used in public spaces as a "safe and efficient method for limiting the transmission and spread of airborne-mediated microbial diseases, such as influenza", David Brenner, director of the Center for Radiological Research at Columbia University Irving Medical Center in NY, said in a statement. This conventional UV light is routinely used to decontaminate surgical equipment.

In their prior investigations, Brenner's group shown that far-UVC light was compelling at executing MRSA (methicillin-safe S. aureus) microbes, a typical reason for surgical injury diseases however not hurt human or mouse skin.

Continuous low doses of far ultraviolet C (far-UVC) light can kill airborne flu viruses without harming human tissues, according to a new study at the Center for Radiological Research at Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC).

Then, they applied low doses of far-UVC light, and found that the light efficiently inactivated more than 95 percent of the flu virus particles - about the same effectiveness as a conventional germicidal UVC lamp. It is not capable of penetrating through the outer layer of the skin or the eye's tear layer so it does not pose a health hazard.

The investigation was distributed online today in Scientific Reports.

"But because viruses and bacteria are much smaller than human cells, far-UVC light can reach their DNA and kill them", he continued.

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Flu infection spreads from individual to individual basically through fine fluid beads, or pressurized canned products, that end up noticeably airborne when individuals with influenza hack, sniffle, or talk.

If further studies support the team's findings, it is hoped that overhead far-UVC lights could ultimately be used to stop the spread of airborne viruses in public spaces such as hospitals, doctors' offices, schools, airports and airplanes. Now, however, scientists have discovered that a narrow spectrum of UVC - known as far-UVC - can eradicate airborne viruses without harming humans.

With UVC lights costing less than $1000 they are relatively cheap for workplaces and if enough were produced the cost would of course fall.

Brenner explained that far-UVC light has very limited range. The far-UVC light efficiently inactivated the flu viruses, with about the same efficiency as conventional germicidal UV light.

The price of a lamp is estimated to be less than $1,000 but the researchers think the cost would decrease once the lamps are mass produced.

"If our results are confirmed in other settings, it follows that the use of overhead low-level far-UVC light in public locations would be a safe and efficient method for limiting the transmission and spread of airborne-mediated microbial diseases, such as influenza and tuberculosis", Dr. Brenner concluded. As an added bonus, unlike vaccinations, far-UVC should be effective against even newly-emerging strains of such viruses.

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