UV "Light-Barrier" Can Inactivate Infectious Aerosols

  • Author: ChemistryViews
  • Published: 12 January 2022
  • Copyright: Wiley-VCH GmbH
thumbnail image: UV

SARS-CoV-2 can be transmitted via aerosols. Inactivating the pathogen in such aerosols could help to curb the spread of COVID-19, as well as other aerosol-transmitted infectious diseases. This could be particularly useful in environments where wearing masks and/or distancing are not practical.

Andreas Wieserl, Ludwig-Maximilians-University (LMU) Munich and German Center for Infection Research (DZIF), Munich, Germany, Christoph Haisch, Technical University of Munich, Germany, and colleagues have developed a curtain-like light-barrier that uses an LED light source emitting UV-C light to prevent the spread of infectious agents in aerosols across a room. Small mirrors are used to focus the UV-C light emitted by two rows of LEDs into a curtain- or wall-like shape. A ventilation system built into the device creates an airflow, which ensures that aerosols are drawn into the UV-C-lit area and cools the LEDs.

The team found that the device can reduce or eliminate the infectious load in aerosols containing, e.g., Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus bacteria or a murine coronavirus. The formation of harmful ozone is avoided by using narrow-band LED light sources instead of, for example, broad-spectrum UV tubular fluorescent lamps. Since exposure to UV-C radiation can be harmful to health, the barrier requires a safety mechanism that turns off the LEDs when, e.g., a person or reflective object enters the "light curtain". An absorber installed on the floor under the device can further reduce stray UV-C radiation.

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