One of the hottest new trends in home decor during the COVID-19 pandemic is UV lighting, in hopes to kill the COVID-19 SARS-CoV-2 virus. UV lamps online and in stores boast their COVID-19 killing features, but do they really work?
We checked with the Center for Disease Control.
“Given the current outbreak of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) disease caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, consumers may be interested in purchasing ultraviolet-C (UVC) lamps to disinfect surfaces in the home or similar spaces. The FDA is providing answers to consumers’ questions about the use of these lamps for disinfection during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the CDC says.
There are different types of UV lamps including UVA, UVB and UVC. Most commonly, UVC lamps are the ones you see for sale.
UVC radiation is a known disinfectant for air, water, and nonporous surfaces. UVC radiation has effectively been used for decades to reduce the spread of bacteria, such as tuberculosis. For this reason, UVC lamps are often called “germicidal” lamps.
According to the CDC, UVC radiation has been shown to destroy the outer protein coating of the SARS-Coronavirus, which is a different virus from the current SARS-CoV-2 virus. The destruction ultimately leads to the inactivation of the virus. UVC radiation may also be effective in inactivating the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is the virus that causes the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Currently, there is limited published data about the wavelength, dose, and duration of UVC radiation required to inactivate the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
In addition to understanding whether UVC radiation is effective at inactivating a particular virus, there are also limitations to how effective UVC radiation can be at inactivating viruses, generally. UVC radiation is commonly used inside air ducts to disinfect the air. This is the safest way to employ UVC radiation because direct UVC exposure to human skin or eyes may cause injuries, and installation of UVC within an air duct is less likely to cause exposure to skin and eyes.
UVB and UVA radiation is expected to be less effective than UVC radiation at inactivating the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.