While most around the world focus on COVID-19 lockdowns, vaccines, and learning to wear face masks at all times, a research team in Tel Aviv, Israel, has demonstrated that certain types of ultraviolet light-emitting diodes are highly effective at killing the coronavirus.
The research is still in early stages and applying it for practical use in mainstream circumstances could be years away, but it’s encouraging to know that alternatives to drugs and lockdowns are in the works. It also helps to support the layman’s notion that sunlight can be effective as a natural disinfectant against the pandemic. According to Jerusalem Post:
“We discovered that it is quite simple to kill the coronavirus using LED bulbs that radiate ultraviolet light,” said Prof. Hadas Mamane, head of the Environmental Engineering Program at Tel Aviv University’s School of Mechanical Engineering, who led the study with Prof. Yoram Gerchman and Dr. Michal Mandelboim.
She said that the UV-LED bulbs require less than half a minute to destroy more than 99.9% of the coronaviruses.
Much of the focus in recent days has been on new variations of COVID-19 popping up. The United Kingdom is already dealing with an advanced strain that is reportedly more contagious than the original. It’s good that researchers are considering the long-game, not only for COVID-19 but for future viruses that pose similar threats.
The focus of the research is on a pair of ultraviolet radiation classifications that do not reach the Earth’s surface from the sun. These rays, artificially produced, can offer a cost-effective way of sterilizing surfaces and possibly even the air we breath indoors. According to the report:
UV-A is emitted by the sun (and artificial sources like tanning beds) and is weaker than UV-B and C. It has some human benefits, such as the creation of vitamin D, but it is also what causes sunburns and, in some cases, skin cancer. UV-B and C radiation never really reaches humans naturally because these rays are absorbed by the earth’s ozone layer.
These ultraviolet wavelengths, which are what Tel Aviv researchers were examining, are especially effective in disinfection using UV-LED bulbs.
“We know, for example, that medical staff do not have time to manually disinfect, say, computer keyboards and other surfaces in hospitals – and the result is infection and quarantine,” said Mamane. “The disinfection systems based on LED bulbs, however, can be installed in the ventilation system and air conditioner, for example, and sterilize the air sucked in and then emitted into the room.”
She added that, “We are also developing, together with a scientist in North Western University a transparent coating that can be dipped or sprayed on surfaces and can kill viruses using visible light LEDs that are not dangerous and are used everywhere, providing another application for regular LEDs.”
In her team’s research, they managed to kill the virus using cheaper and more readily available LED bulbs – 285 nm vs. 265 nm bulbs – which consume little energy and do not contain mercury like regular UV lamps.
The unintentional moral of the story is that lockdowns may be all the rage, but getting out and about in the sunlight whenever possible is still a healthier alternative. Being cooped up constantly has negative effects beyond the coronavirus.
COVID-19 lockdowns are taking down an independent news outlet
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