DOH not recommending public use of UV light against viruses

Davinci Maru, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 25 2020 08:54 PM

A woman rides an escalator that is being cleaned by UV light at Saks 5th Avenue in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, US, June 24, 2020. Carlo Allegri, Reuters

MANILA - The Department of Health (DOH) said Thursday it does not recommend the public use of ultraviolet light for disinfection against bacteria and viruses.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said UV disinfection equipment were best suited for use in hospitals, clinics and other health care settings as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).

"For now, there is no sufficient evidence if it's effective outside these settings," she said in Filipino during a televised press briefing.

The UN health agency, Vergeire said, stressed that UV disinfection equipment are not a replacement for manual cleaning of surfaces.

"It can also cause damage to your vision, skin irritation, burns and increased risk for skin cancer that's why we are not recommending it for now," she said.

Alcohol and bleach solutions are still the best way in disinfecting surfaces, she added.

 

According to a study by researchers at Columbia University, ceiling fixtures emitting a safe form of ultraviolet light called far-UVC can be very efficient at killing airborne coronaviruses.

"A very low exposure to far-UVC light killed well over 99.9 percent of the exposed virus," lead researcher Dr. David Brenner said.

The researchers put coronavirus particles into little droplets and floated them in the air in front of far-UVC lights, then collected the viruses and tested them to see how many were still active. 

The study, published on Wednesday in Scientific Reports, used coronaviruses that cause common colds. 

"But in our subsequent ongoing studies we have found that the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is killed in just the same way by far-UVC light," Brenner said. 

The idea would be to install overhead far-UVC lights in public locations, where they would be "continuously killing microbes, including the COVID-19 virus- and so limiting the spread of the virus," Brenner said, adding that far-UVC manufacturers are already ramping up production. 

"We don't see far-UVC light as an alternative to masks and social distancing," Brenner said. 

"We see it as a new extra weapon that we can use in the battle against COVID-19." - With a report from Reuters