UVC light from the sun is blocked by Earth’s atmosphere. When you go outside on a sunny day, the UV light that reaches you is UVA and some UVB. These types of UV light do not destroy viruses quickly. However, researchers at Columbia University have been working on such uses of UV for years, and the current pandemic could confirm the value of their efforts. UVC light has been found to destroy viruses and other microbes on surfaces in hospitals. The U.S. government and the UV technology industry are working to define standards for UV disinfection technologies in healthcare settings.
A study published in the journal Nature in 2018 raises the potential for even more effective UV-C disinfection to prevent or reduce airborne viral infections that doesn’t risk human health. Though research needs to be done in real-world conditions, the scientists at the Columbia University Medical Center say the so-called far-UV-C spectrum could potentially lead to widespread decontamination efforts in public spaces, such as hospitals, doctors offices, schools, airports and airplanes.
“Continuous very low dose-rate far-UVC light in indoor public locations is a promising, safe and inexpensive tool to reduce the spread of airborne-mediated microbial diseases.”