Testing finds certain type of ultraviolet light can prevent virus transmission, safe for humans

Far-UVC lamp
Posted at 1:17 PM, May 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-04 13:21:00-04

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Whether you're in the doctor's office or even the grocery store, it's hard to know what's floating around in the air there.

The transmission of viruses like COVID-19 or the flu is more likely indoors than outside, but there's new technology in development aiming to make the inside just as safe as open air.

Scientists at Columbia University say a certain type of ultraviolet light, Far-UVC light, can kill viruses and bacteria while leaving people unharmed.

Columbia dental students are currently working under Far-UVC lamps that work to disinfect the air. According to researchers, it kills 98 percent of indoor airborne microbes in around five minutes.

Dr. David Brenner, the director of the Center for Radiological Research at Columbia, says the technology could find use in not only hospitals, but airplanes and schools.

"Where are we transmitting COVID? Where are we transmitting influenza? It's almost entirely indoors because you have so much ventilation outdoors," Brenner told CBS News. "I think what we have achieved with FAR-UVC is the equivalent of stepping outside."

The technology is still in the testing phase, Brenner says.

News 3 reached out to Hampton Roads-based health systems to find out if they're looking into using it in their facilities.

Riverside Health System responded that it is not, at this point. However, in 2020, Riverside Regional Medical Center in Newport News began utilizing a robot that uses an ultraviolet light pulse that disinfects a 360-degree space. The process, however, only begins after people have left the space.

Sentara pointed to its clinical trial from a few years back that found copper can fight against hospital-acquired infections. Several Sentara facilities use copper surfaces and copper-infused products.