Researchers at the University of California at Santa Barbara (United States) are developing a new weapon to try to contain the spread of the new coronavirus. These are ultraviolet LEDs capable of decontaminating surfaces and potentially the air and water that came into contact with SARS-CoV-2.
The project, which started even before the covid-19 pandemic, already provided for the use of UV light in medical situations, in the disinfection of personal protective equipment, air conditioning systems and surfaces, among other areas, according to researcher Christian Zollner, a of the study authors.
Unlike the UV-A and UV-B wavelengths, which come from the sun’s rays, the ultraviolet light used in the study to inactivate the virus and other microbes, purifying water, air and surfaces, is of the UV-C type, more rare. This wavelength can only be produced in processes conducted by man.
Harmful to the skin, UV-C light should be used without the presence of people during disinfection. There is even a recommendation from the World Health Organization (WHO) against the use of these ultraviolet disinfection lamps to clean the body – a brief exposure to them can cause burns and damage to the eyes.
Use of technology still depends on testing
The effectiveness of ultraviolet LEDs against the spread of the new coronavirus has yet to be tested on a large scale before the technology can be used to disinfect hospitals and large public spaces, for example.
After the tests, the researchers intend to use the technology, which is low cost and without the presence of chemicals, to sanitize the most varied types of spaces, integrating the LEDs into activated systems when the places are completely empty.
According to Zollner, disinfection and decontamination of circulation areas, combined with social isolation, are the best weapons to fight covid-19, while scientists are looking for vaccines, therapies and a cure for the disease.