A simple thing like replacing lightbulbs in public spaces may render them much safer and minimize the risk of getting Covid-19. This is the claim laid out by researchers from Tel Aviv Univerisity, who conducted a study and established that the novel coronavirus is sensitive to a specific type of LED light.
Indoor public spaces like shopping centers, public transportation, and schools are among the most high-risk locations when it comes to Covid-19. The virus spreads like wildfire in such spaces, and there have been many recorded instances of entire schools and other indoor spaces closing down with hundreds of confirmed Covid-19 cases. Until now, very little could be done to make these spaces safer.
Surely, regular cleaning and disinfection, as well as social distancing and mask-wearing all help a lot, but even with all these practices in place, the virus survives and spreads only further. In addition, disinfecting buses, trains, and entire shopping centers requires quite a lot of time and effort, so researchers have been trying to come up with alternative methods for quite a while now.
In an attempt to find a method that could help eradicate the virus indoors, researchers at Tel Aviv University under the leadership of Prof. Hadas Mamane tested the ability of UV LED lights to disinfect surfaces, and they just came back with the results. The article was included in the November 2020 issue of the Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology.
To the great relief and hope of all of us, the researchers have shown that the novel coronavirus can be eradicated efficiently, quickly, and cheaply with the use of ultraviolet (UV) light-emitting diodes (UV-LEDs).
As Prof. Mamane explained in an interview for the Tel Aviv University website, “We killed the viruses using cheaper and more readily available LED bulbs, which consume little energy and do not contain mercury like regular bulbs. Our research has commercial and societal implications, given the possibility of using such LED bulbs in all areas of our lives, safely and quickly.” Using these bulbs is easy and possible practically anywhere - from rooms to ventilation systems and doors. “Disinfection systems based on LED bulbs … can be installed in the ventilation system and air conditioner, for example, and sterilize the air sucked in and then emitted into the room,” stated Mamane.
According to the researchers, the more readily available and cheaper lightbulbs with a wavelength of 285 nanometers were almost as efficient in killing the virus as the pricier bulbs with a wavelength of 265 nm. In less than half a minute, the 285 nm bulbs destroyed over 99.9% of the coronaviruses.
This is great news, as these special bulbs could be relatively easily incorporated into indoor public spaces and disinfected every few hours. Unfortunately, the researchers point out that these UV LED bulbs are not suitable for private homes, though, as they emit dangerous radiation and could lead to serious side effects if a person was exposed to them. Still, this new method could really help minimize the risk of contracting the virus in public spaces and is still extremely valuable.
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