Far ultraviolet-C (far-UVC) light can kill airborne flu viruses without hurting humans, according to new research.
Researchers at Columbia University tested the far-UVC light in a chamber that simulated the conditions of a public space and found that it effectively killed the flu virus in the air. Their findings were published in Scientific Reports.
Different from UV light, which is known to kill germs but can cause cancer and cataracts in humans, far-UVC doesn’t pose a health hazard. The lights could hypothetically be installed in hospitals, schools and offices to stop the spread of the flu.
“Far-UVC light has a very limited range and cannot penetrate through the outer dead-cell layer of human skin or the tear layer in the eye, so it’s not a human health hazard,” David J. Brenner, the lead author of the study, said in a press release. “But because viruses and bacteria are much smaller than human cells, far-UVC light can reach their DNA and kill them.”
The researchers previously tested far-UVC light on the MRSA superbug and reported that it killed the bacteria without harming human skin.