Could ultraviolet lamps slow the spread of flu?

Science | AAAS | 1/3/2018 | Staff
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Researchers envision that safe UV lights could one day help disinfect airports.

Could ultraviolet lamps slow the spread of flu?

Hospitals - Laboratories - UV - Microbes - Practice

Hospitals and laboratories often use ultraviolet (UV) light to kill microbes, but the practice has one major drawback: It can harm humans. So UV lights only do their killing in places such as empty operating rooms and under unoccupied lab hoods. Now, researchers have discovered that people might be safe around a shorter wavelength of microbe-slaying UV light, theoretically turning it into a new tool that could slow the spread of disease in schools, crowded airplanes, food processing plants, and even operating rooms and labs.

UV lights disinfect by disrupting the molecular bonds that hold together microbial genetic material or proteins. The most commonly used lights have a wavelength of 254 nanometers (nm), which has a relatively short UV wavelength—the so-called “C” category—but can penetrate the skin and eyes, leading to cancers and cataracts. So for the past 4 years, a group led by physicist David Brenner at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City has tested shorter wavelengths, known as “far UVC light” that can’t penetrate the outer layers of the eyes or skin. The researchers found that far UVC eliminated bacteria on surfaces and did not harm lab mice.

Brenner - Co-workers - UVC - Health - Concern

Brenner and his co-workers next addressed whether far UVC could address a major health concern in many public settings: airborne microbes. The team first aerosolized influenza viruses inside a chamber and exposed them to UVC light with a wavelength of 222 nm or, as a control, to nothing. The researchers then collected liquid samples from the chamber and spread them on dog kidney cells susceptible to the flu. Unexposed samples could infect the cells, but the UVC-treated ones couldn’t, the researchers reported in a pre-print study published online 28 December 2017 on...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Science | AAAS
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