Could ultraviolet light help disarm the coronavirus?

A century-old technology known as germicidal ultraviolet air disinfection, or GUV, may be able to wipe out airborne coronavirus particles in indoor spaces, according to experts.

GUV light has been used since the 1930s in schools, hospitals, and other buildings to help stop the spread of diseases such as measles, according to a July 13, 2020 NPR article. Although use of the technology waned in recent decades as scientists focused on vaccines and drugs to fight infectious diseases, experts think it could be useful in helping stop the spread of the coronavirus. GUV systems can be installed inside air conditioning systems or mounted high on ceilings

“It’s a well-proven, extremely safe technology that is underused and often misunderstood,” Edward Nardell, professor in the Departments of Environmental Health and Immunology and Infectious Diseases, told NPR. “No one doubts the efficacy of germicidal UV in killing small microorganisms and pathogens. I think the bigger controversy, if there is any, is misperceptions around safety.”

UV-C light—the form of ultraviolet light used in GUV systems—can harm eyes and skin. But Nardell, who has worked for decades on how to use GUV more widely, said these risks can be avoided by using strategies such as pointing the light away from people below.

Read the NPR article: Coronavirus Sparks New Interest In Using Ultraviolet Light To Disinfect Indoor Air

Read a Boston Globe article: Could a century-old technology zap coronavirus in schools and offices?