- Sep 2020
Researchers offer first proof that Ultraviolet C light with a 222 nm wavelength — which is safer to use around humans — effectively kills the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Take Away: Most germicidal ultraviolet (UV) lamps emit a wavelength of around 254 nm. While these are very effective means of sterilization, they are also damaging to human skin and eyes and therefore are used in unoccupied spaces. However, a recent study has shown that a safer form of UV light at a wavelength of 222 nm is effective in killing SARS-CoV-2 virus in vitro.
The Claim: Researchers offer first proof that Ultraviolet C light with a 222 nm wavelength — which is safer to use around humans — effectively kills the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
The Evidence: The authors reference the safety of 222 nm UV light, and there are many studies to support this claim. 222 nm UV light has been shown to not cause DNA damage or skin lesions even at higher doses and for longer exposure times than used here (1, 2).
In the study referenced, researchers at Hiroshima University exposed SARS-CoV-2 virus to low dosage 222 nm UV light and subsequently measured the amount of viable virus (3). They found that exposure of 0.1 mW/cm^2 for 30 seconds reduced the amount of viable virus by 99.7%. However, as the authors note, this study was performed using virus plated on a dish in a hood, and translation of these results to a public setting is unclear. For instance, in a hospital, there are many different types of surfaces and direct/consistent exposure to the UV light might not be feasible. While this study is promising, additional studies need to be done before promoting this as a safe and effective means of killing SARS-CoV-2 in an occupied environment.