We have known for a long time that ultra-violet light kills bacteria and viruses, but harms humans. That is why the New York City Subway subjects its cars to such light every night when no humans are there. Many hospitals bath their operating rooms with such light at night when humans are absent. Dr. David Brenner, an Oxford-educated physicist at Columbia who applies quantum mechanics to radiation therapy, had a friend die from a superbug caught in the hospital. He became determined to stop such from ever happening again.
Brenner went into the ultra violet light spectrum and found what he calls “far-UVC”. It is ultraviolet light in the spectrum of 222 nanometers (technically 205-222 nanometers). It won’t penetrate human skin or eyes but still kills most all bacteria and all viruses—both on surfaces and in the air. Healthe Lighting is already manufacturing devices that look like airport metal detectors. They kill any virus or bacteria on your body as you walk through. The Miami Dolphins have installed the technology that does this job in their indoor training facilities. Healthe’s multi-level system is designed to inactivate the Covid-19 virus in the air, on players’ lockers, and even on their uniforms—and it’s all completely safe, researchers say.
Right now, installations are relatively expensive, and production is backlogged. But there is a solution which doesn’t require more research. Within a few months, the company says it will be able to produce simple LEDs that emit the proper wavelength. They will likely be expensive at first, but like anything involving technology and chips, costs will fall quickly, enabling wider use. (Today it would take $20,000 to equip a 2,000 square foot bar as one of the most popular one’s in NYC has done. The LEDs will drop that price dramatically). COVID-19 is devastating restaurants and bars because people are in such close proximity. But these LEDs will be easy to put on the walls and ceiling, or even in regular light-emitting lamps on each table. When somebody coughs or shouts and unknowingly spreads a virus, the far-UVC light will kill it. Will it be perfect? No, if you are kissing someone with COVID-19 or another virus, you may still catch the bug. The light doesn’t go past your skin or eyes.
Can you attach a small strip on every seat in a stadium? Of course. Plus lighting in airports, trains, planes, hotels, in fact, just about everywhere people congregate. Yes, if you gather at a big outdoor event with no far-UVC lighting, there would be no protection. But (and this is a big but) infection potential should be lower after enough of the virus has been killed. And we are not talking just about COVID-19. We are talking about all viruses, including new ones. David Brenner’s vision of killing superbugs in hospitals (which caused 49,000 people to die last year in just the US) is in reach. This is simply amazing. It will usher in a new area of health, saving lives, and significantly improving economic productivity. We are now in reach of curing the “common cold” that has been dreamed of for so long. Since you can’t patent UV light, other companies are working on this too. That’s great; nothing like competition to spur innovation. This is wonderful news for mankind.