In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, face masks have suddenly become an essential accessory for protecting themselves from infection. Face masks are disposable and then thrown away. To use them again, you need to wash and keep them clean, ideally treating with a UVC Light Sanitizer.
According to the CDC, any disinfection method would need to kill the coronavirus and keep the ability to filter particles. Ultraviolet germicidal radiation using UVC Light Sanitizer has been suggested. Hospitals commonly disinfect contaminated surfaces using UVC.
UVC Light Sanitizer radiation can disinfect your smartphones as well as water bottles.
What is ultraviolet light?
Ultraviolet light is a short wavelength light invisible to the human eye. Home and outdoor lights have longer wavelengths while x-rays are shorter wavelength lights. UV light falls between the two. The sun emits three different types of ultraviolet light: UVA, UVB, and UVC. Th first two enter the atmosphere in various intensities and what causes wrinkles, sunburns, etc.
Despite being the more dangerous ultraviolet light, UVC never appears on sun block labels because they are too short that they are unable to penetrate the atmosphere. However, a UVC Light Sanitizer is powerful enough to deactivate viruses such as H5N1, swine flu, & severe acute respiratory syndromes.
How does UV light kill germs?
UV light can kill up to 99.9% germs & was used since the early 1900s for water purification. Ultraviolet light penetrates the cells of pathogens and damages the DNA or RNA containing their genetic code.
There is also evidence that ultraviolet light can damage amino acids and proteins that either protect the virus or allow it to attach and infect a host cell. People have been harnessing UV lights for over a century already. In fact, in 1910, experts say that the first full-scale UV disinfection system for water treatment was used in Marseilles, France. You may find midsized UV machines in hospitals for room disinfection after patients have left.
UV light sanitizers work by penetrating the thin wall of small microscopic organisms and destroying their nucleic acids. This results to the disruption of their DNA structure, either killing it or removing its ability to reproduce, making it harmless in the process.
Can we disinfect masks with a UVC light sanitizer?
The CDC recommends that N95 masks should be exclusively for specialists who need them. For those who are simply trying to avoid infection or infecting others, a cloth facial covering can suffice.
Using light sanitizers on face masks is not as straightforward as you think it is. UV can only disinfect what it shines on. Shadows cast by the mask’s tiny folds might prevent decontamination. At the moment, there are no clear and independent standards in place that helps determine whether UV disinfection devices are truly effective.
UVC devices operate at a specific wavelength, which is usually in the range of 254 nanometers, to be effective. Currently, researchers are working on developing other specific wavelengths for certain applications.
In addition, improper handling of UV devices carries risks of serious skin and eye damage. According to Ron Hoffman, an environmental engineer at the University of Toronto, you need to do your homework and make sure that your device can actually do the job.
Sunlight and coronavirus
While UVC light is not present in sunlight, as it is filtered in the earth’s atmosphere, sunlight can still prove effective against SARS-CoV-2. The Department of Homeland Security reveals that documents obtained by Yahoo News and noted in a White House briefing revealed that simulated sunlight can help decrease active SARS-CoV-2 to non-detectable levels after only 3 minutes on a non-porous surface and equally effective against the airborne virus.
Keep in mind, however, that this is not instantaneous. When an infected person coughs or sneezes on you, it will not matter if you are outdoors or indoors. Also, researchers in China have reported that high temperature and UV radiation do not reduce COVID-19 infection.
The popularity of UV light stems from the early 20th century when Danish physician Niels Ryberg Finsen won the 1903 Nobel Prize for his invention of light therapy. UVA light is still useful in treating skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, vitiligo, and T-cell lymphoma.
Can UV light sanitizers kill the coronavirus?
Based on the available scientific evidence that UV light can destroy various viruses, there is a possibility that UV light can kill SARS-CoV-2.
According to a report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, UV light can probably kill the COVID-19 carrier. UV light has shown to destroy other coronaviruses, so there is a possibility that it will work on the novel coronavirus. UV light was used to kill the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus or MERS-CoV as well as the severe acute respiratory-related coronavirus or SARS.
According to the report, there is one problem with ultraviolet light. Since UV light can damage human skin, you should only use it on objects and not yourself. It is best to stick to hand washing with soap & water or using alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
The World Health Organization echoes the findings of the said study. Using any UV light device for disinfecting hands or other areas of the skin is dangerous. UV radiation can cause skin irritation or damage to your eyes.
According to Dr. Tyler Hollmig, Director of Dermatological Survey at University of Texas Dell Medical School in Austin, UV light devices should not substitute hand washing, wearing masks, or social distancing for preventing COVID-19 infection.
In addition, Dr. Hollmig says that if UV light sanitizers are properly tested and used, it can be effective in killing pathogens. However, on human skin, it can cause burns and is a known carcinogen. Consumer devices using UV light should be safe provided that you follow the instructions carefully.
UV Light in Buildings
In the light of the COVID-19 pandemic, business establishments have stepped up their efforts in making their premises COVID-free. Many businesses now implement “ultraviolet germicidal irradiation”. Now, we see buildings and establishments installing human-safe UV light fixtures to disinfect their building and mitigate the risks of contracting COVID-19 through air or surfaces.
As for homes, you should be careful when using them on in-home surfaces. Do your research first before trying to install UV light fixtures on your home.