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UV Lamps May Soon Make Our Buses and Trains Completely Germ Free

Armen Hareyan's picture
UV lights for flu treatment

Researchers at the University of Columbia want to stop the spread of viruses and bacteria in the air with a special Ultraviolet C (far-UVC) light. This can potentially make our buses, public toilets, and trains completely germ-free.


Public spaces such as subways, suburban trains, schools, or waiting rooms are breading grounds for germs that - especially in the fall and winter - contribute enormously to the spread of influenza and other types of viruses. Like many other illnesses, the flu is transmitted via droplet infections. That is, when talking, coughing, and sneezing infected individuals spray tiny droplets into common airspace, putting those around them at risk.

For a long time, scientists have been looking for ways to keep the air in public spaces "germ-free" - without endangering people with harmful chemicals.

Researchers at the University of Columbia in New York may have succeeded in doing so. They suggest installing lamps that emit UV light at a certain wavelength in public spaces, because this light (invisible to the human eye) kills viruses and bacteria, but causes no harm humans.

UV light - a proven disinfectant

Ultraviolet light has long been used for disinfecting medical instruments. Similar lights are also available for storage rooms in hospitals and in food production. However, they are not suitable for permanent irradiation in rooms with people - because the intense UV radiation can cause sunburn or conjunctivitis, and drastically increases the risk of skin cancer.

A few years ago, a team led by David J. Brenner at Columbia University had the idea to use a very weak wavelength of UV light for disinfection - the so-called far-UVC light. "Far-UVC light has a very limited range and cannot penetrate through the outer dead-cell layer of human skin or the tear layer in the eye, so it’s not a human health hazard. But because viruses and bacteria are much smaller than human cells, far-UVC light can reach their DNA and kill them,” said Brenner in a university statement, who is also a professor of environmental health sciences at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health.

Here is an illustration of how UV lights will work.

In previous studies, the team was able to show that far-UVC light kills multi drug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (a bacteria that can trigger wound infections after surgery), but does not harm the skin of humans nor mice.

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UVC light kills influenza viruses

In their most recent study, the researchers investigated whether light can also stop the transmission of airborne influenza. To do so, they "dumped" influenza-causing bacteria into a test chamber and exposed it to very low doses of far-UVC light (222 nanometers). In another chamber, a "control group" of viruses was allowed to spread without being exposed to UV light.

The result? The low-dose far-UVC light killed the viruses just as effectively as germicidal lamps with intense UV radiation. In the test chamber without irradiation, no such effect was observed.

“If our results are confirmed in other settings, it follows that the use of overhead low-level far-UVC light in public locations would be a safe and efficient method for limiting the transmission and spread of airborne-mediated microbial diseases, such as influenza and tuberculosis,” Brenner said.

How can I protect myself from viruses?

UV lamps with the wavelength range defined by the researchers are not yet available for household use. For now, they have been ruled out as a safe disinfectant in home bathrooms and kitchens.

Each UV Lamp will cost about $1,000 (USD). If this new product is successful, there will be no need for flu vaccinations. Brenner says that unlike flu vaccines, these UV Lamps will be far more effective.

Until then, we will have to rely on the traditional methods to protect us from viruses and bacteria.

3 stories you will need to read about flu treatment

  1. The Only Cold and Flu Guide You Will Ever Need This Season
  2. Five Natural Ways To Heal And Prevent The Flu Fast Without Using Medicine
  3. What Not To Do When The Flu Strikes

Reference: Praxisvita.



Completely Germ Free is not a good goal. Do they think we are so stupid as to think that all germs are bad germs? And there is no way that a lamp can eliminate all germs.
The UV light needs to hit every surface in order for it to work. Any tiny crack or fold in a surface will leave an unexposed spot. Also if there is any grime or film on a surface the UV light may not penetrate deep enough. Do a simple experiment. With a ceiling light on (or the dome light of your car) look at all the spots that are still in a shadow.
You come into direct contact will billions of bacteria every single day. 99.99% or greater of these are either harmless or beneficial, like any ecosystem all life competes for a limited amount of resources. If you get rid of the harmless bacteria the dangerous ones can now take over.
As we make our environment “cleaner”, more and stranger illnesses seem to appear. When we were little gaffers, playing in the dirt helped our immune systems become more robust. Now kids are kept away from anything potentially “dirty”, often by an OCD parent. Sterilizing lotion everywhere, constant supervision, stifling rules, it’s a wonder they can walk (they could fall over)! When I was a kid, asthma was rare. Now it seems that 2 out of 3 kids has some form of it, even though the air is FAR less polluted than it was in the ‘60’s. I don’t know what the answer is, other than we’re all going die someday. And it's a good thing to remember that the life on this earth is temporary and we are going to be accountable to God about how we lived this life here.
Let's see. Porphyria patients will burn their skin. People who take certain blood pressure meds will have skin burns. Corneas will be damaged more. Skin cancer melanoma rates will go up as per nail salon and their regulations. Nothing like the poor people who won't wear orange glasses to block the UV and will need transplants later. "Great fix." Now we design fixes like the Soviet Union did. We improved the ability of engineers to be so narrow-minded and specialist they cause more damage than they fix!