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COVID-19 Explainer: What Is Far UV-C Light, And Can It Kill The Coronavirus On Surfaces?

According to experts, Ultraviolet (UV) light of the wavelength 222 nanometre called Far UV-C can kill coronavirus without harming humans

COVID-19 Explainer: What Is Far UV-C Light, And Can It Kill The Coronavirus On Surfaces?
Highlights
  • Ultraviolet light can help in disinfecting indoor spaces: Experts
  • Far UV-C light can kill 99.9% of coronavirus from a surface: Experts
  • Longer exposure to ultraviolet light can have harmful effects on humans

New Delhi: The World Health Organisation (WHO) acknowledged last month that there was emerging evidence of the coronavirus being spread via droplets and aerosols, especially in a closed indoor setting. Experts say that recently as the gradual unlock of the economy has started, disinfecting of rooms, hallways and other indoor spaces like offices, banks, gyms, malls and other such places is gaining focus along with safety measures like washing hands frequently and following physical distancing. Now one of the methods being explored by experts is the use of ultraviolet (UV) to effectively sanitise indoor spaces.

Also Read: India’s Single-Day Count Of COVID-19 Cases More Than That Of US, Brazil In Past 7 Days: WHO Data

Dr. Avinash Kumar Agarwal, Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) – Kanpur said that scientists have known for decades about UV’s ability to disinfect and for many years, it has been used for sterilization in medical settings, food production and a number of other places.

Ultraviolet light of between 200-280 nm wavelength is known as UV-C and is known to be harmful to cell tissue. There are UV-A and B lights too which have longer wavelength. These UV lights are present in Sun radiation. While UV-A and B are more on the visible spectrum, UV-C gets filtered out by the Ozone layer of the atmosphere. UV-C is also quite harmful to humans. UV-C light of specifically 254 nm (nanometre) in wavelength has been used to sanitise devices for a while. However, exposure to humans for a long period can cause severe burns and even skin cancer. Researchers have discovered that a specific wavelength of UVC light – 222 nm – called as ‘Far UV-C’ is much less dangerous to humans, while still being lethal for viruses and bacteria, he said.

Dr. Agarwal, who along with his team designed a disinfectant tunnel that uses doses of Far UV-C light to clean surfaces of luggage, clothes, hair, shoes and other things said, there are peer-reviewed studies on the impact of Far UV-C on the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 and it was found that exposing coronaviruses to far-UVC light for 25 minutes killed 99.9 per cent of them.

A study published in the online journal Nature, also says that Far-UVC light (222 nm) efficiently and safely inactivates airborne human coronaviruses and adds that continuous airborne disinfection with Far UV-C light could greatly reduce the level of airborne virus in indoor environments occupied by people.

Also Read: If COVID-19 Is Defeated In The 10 Worst Hit States, The Entire Country Will Emerge Victorious: Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Rohan Oberoi, founder and CEO of Momentum India, has designed a device called ‘UV Safe’ which can eliminate 99.9 per cent of the coronavirus.

As gymnasiums and yoga centres reopen under Unlock3, UV devices have come into the market to help sanitise spaces. UV lights have the ability to kill the virus. We joined hands four months ago with IIT Ropar to work on building such a device that can sterilise the whole room. The technology has been existing for a very long time. However, the most important thing to understand about zapping the viruses using UV is the duration of exposure required and the intensity of the light doses that are to be given to these bacteria for that specific amount of time. It is very similar to the medicine prescribed to you by your doctor where, for example, they tell you to take 5ml three times a day because there is a science behind it, he said.

He further said that Momentum India has created ‘UV Safe’ in order to provide safety solutions for the time like now when the country is gradually opening up. UV light will help in disinfecting public spaces like hospitals, banks, gyms and others. In the coming days, there will be a need for such devices that disinfect a surface uniformly and that can reach those surfaces easily that are hard to reach. Mr. Oberoi said,

The device made by Momentum India needs to be used in an empty room. It has many safety features. If used properly, the device will prove to be very beneficial because it does not leave any residue behind and within the two minutes of using the device, the room becomes completely safe to be used again.

Experts believe that because SARS-CoV-2 has the ability to remain active on daily use items like metal, plastic and cardboard for more than several days, thus posing a risk of transmission. But with the use of UV-C light, the virus can be destroyed and transmission can be prevented in the indoor space.

Also Read: As Fight Against COVID-19 Intensifies, Healthcare Professionals Push For A Policy To Tackle Future Pandemics

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene

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