Technical Lighting Help

Germicidal UV Light

I recently read that Germicidal UV Lighting (GUV) has not produced the sales manufacturers had expected. The amount of available products has quickly plummeted and there is some thought that with the retreat of COVID, people are no longer worrying about airborne particulates and how to protect their family. With the pushback against common-sense vaccines, even in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence, it might not be surprising. Still, the use of light to help combat germs and viruses remains in play. The method of delivery might shift and change as new ideas arise and research becomes more pointed.

Using UV is nothing new. The sun is often considered the ultimate cure-all and of course, it delivers plenty of light in the UV spectrum. In the 1920s, capitalizing on this understanding, Vi-Rex devices were sold to plenty of vulnerable people based on their promise that the electric shocks of UV would make one, “vital, compelling and magnetic.” I’m hoping that was figuratively magnetic, not literal. SAD lights provide a blast of bright UV-filled light for those who are effected by Seasonal Affective Disorder. This more current application is an equally suspicious solution. Does it really work, or is this the 2020s version of wearing a copper bracelet to cure arthritis?

Essentially, viruses are vulnerable to light in certain areas of the electromagnetic spectrum. By adding that type of light to typical luminaires, we can include an effective germ cleanser. The problem is us. Humans have negative reactions to light in this area of the spectrum. When we stay in the sun too long, our skin becomes sunburnt. This is one, very simple, easy to understand reaction to UV. Science-fiction movies remind us of the many other harmful effects of UV and infrared light. Specific spectrum can be VERY damaging. Some areas are deemed safe, but I still read research papers where the exact specifics of “safe” wavelengths is debated. For that reason, care must be employed when considering this option.

I however remain bullish on GUV. The science is still young, but the results are narrowing toward some very specific results. I expect better scientific direction to arrive soon. Coupled with the constant increase in immune resistant antibiotic bacteria (basically, bacteria and fungi that have developed an ability to defeat the drugs designed to kill them) it appears to me that use is inevitable.

As we enter this New Year to growing reports of increases in childhood hospitalization due to viral infections, added help will be required. If GUV employing better research results can help, we should all be receptive. If the germs can improve their defense against antibiotics, then humans should happily add light to their side of the battlefield. In doing so, we must use them knowingly and with greater and greater understanding of the direction of use provided by carefully derived research.

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