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Ultraviolet light to halt virus spread?

Wednesday December 22nd 2021

An invisible protective “wall” could prevent the spread of airborne pathogens indoors, according to a new analysis.

The wall or barrier is made of UV-C light, described as a disinfectant that inactivates viruses and bacteria by scientists at the Technical University of Munich, Germany.

Dr Andreas Wieser and colleagues described their innovation last week in *medRxiv*.

"The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic demonstrated the vulnerability of our societies to aerosol transmitted pathogens," they write.

"With no less than 260 million known cases and more than five million deaths, SARS-CoV-2 is a global catastrophe. Thus, effective methods to limit the spread of aerosol transmitted pathogens are needed."

They created a mass-producible LED light source that emits homogeneous parallel UV-C light. It can be suspended from the ceiling like a lamp to subdivide rooms, with the UV-C light radiating downward in a focused manner.

This was tested for its effectiveness as a light-barrier to block aerosols containing certain bacteria and a coronavirus infectious to mice.

Significant reductions in "colony-forming units" (CFUs) per cubic metre of air were seen for all infectious agents.

The authors write: "Universal masking and curfew laws are effective but no permanent solution. The concept of a UV-C light barrier to ward off infectious aerosols if feasible and possible with a light element.

"Coupled with sensor based activation/deactivation, such a technology could greatly reduce the transmission rates of aerosol transmitted pathogens while not disturbing natural human behaviour."

They conclude: "This is an interesting technology allowing a 'new normal' in societies after/with SARS-CoV-2."

Dr Wieser comments: "As with a protective curtain, pathogens are inactivated as soon as they 'float through' the barrier while piggybacking on aerosol particles."

Co-author Professor Christoph Haisch adds: "In addition, the system disinfects breathing air in the room by drawing it in and slowly blowing it into the light-exposed area of the UV-C light wall."

Wieser, A. et al. Aerosol decontamination and spatial separation using a free-space LED-based UV-C light curtain. *medRxiv* 17 December 2021;doi: 10.1101/2021.12.16.21267937


Tags: Europe | Flu & Viruses | Pharmaceuticals | Respiratory

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