Can UV light be effective in sterilizing surfaces to help stop disease transmission?

BOSTON — As we look ahead to what the new normal will look like, scientists have been actively looking for ways to deactivate the novel coronavirus.

Scientists have been researching human safe UV lights for the decade, the kind that will kill bacteria but still be safe for human exposure. Bringing that light into our work or home spaces may be the next step in moving forward.

“We have a new spectrum, this far UVC light, a human safe light," said Fred Maxik, chief scientific officer, Healthe Lighting. "It’s a light we can live with in real-time and constantly be sterilizing our environment.”

Maxik said many of us may be familiar with standard UVC lights, the kind used to sterilize hospital rooms but are unsafe for humans to be exposed to. But, within the last decade, a human-safe UVC light has been researched and may now be the answer to help us safely cohabitate in shared spaces.

"The interest in what we’ve done has expanded to office environment, retail environment, transportation environment – there’s a lot of interest in seeing how we can utilize this type of light in ways that will help us approach this new normal,” said Maxik.

His company has created a cleanse portal - a way to utilize the safe UVC light on individuals before they enter shared spaces.

“We can walk through, when we enter a building to help clean our persons, our skins, our clothing, our packages we carry and before we go home we can exit through that same type of portal and clean ourselves before we go home to our families, so we won’t bring anything back home that we don’t want to bring back home with us,” said Maxik.

Maxik said the light is a solution to stop disease transmission. Bacteria can still be spread from human to human contact, but the light could reduce the pathogen load these large spaces would endure.

“The idea of utilizing it in a way that will get us back to normal, to get us back to quality of life we want to live is very important,” said Maxik.

Healthe Lighting has started shipping the cleanse portals and other devices used to kill bacteria to several companies nation-wide. It could be a light at the end of the tunnel for many who are unsure what the future holds.

Correction: The company’s name was incorrect in a previous version of this story. It is Healthe Lighting, not Healthy Lighting.

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