“Lamps that operate on a particular area of the ultraviolet spectrum known as UVC have long been used to kill bacteria, viruses and moulds, notably in hospitals and in the food-processing industry.
But direct exposure to UVC is dangerous because the rays, which aren’t present in regular sunlight, cause skin cancer and eye problems — meaning they can only be used once people leave.
Researchers at Columbia University have been working for several years on a new type of UVC lamp, whose shorter wavelength of 222 nanometers makes them safe for humans but still lethal to microbes.
Last month, a team led by physicist David Brenner published a paper in the journal Scientific Reports showing that their technology killed 99.9 percent of seasonal coronaviruses present in airborne droplets.
“We really need something in situations like offices, restaurants, airplanes, hospitals,” Brenner told AFP.
Japanese company Ushio has already started selling far-UVC lamps in the US but says on its website that ongoing studies on their safety will decide when they are ready for occupied spaces.”
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