Straight Talk!: UV Disinfection for SARS-CoV-2 [Video]
NORTHBROOK, Ill.—January 19, 2021—In this edition of Straight Talk! with Jeff Cross, Dr. Gavin Macgregor-Skinner of the Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC), a division of ISSA, discusses the emerging research about UV light as a disinfecting weapon against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. He predicts that UV disinfection is going to be an increasingly important trend in for the cleaning industry in 2021.
UV disinfection has become something of a buzzword during the pandemic, but does UV light actually kill bacteria and viruses on high-touch surfaces? Dr. Macgregor-Skinner says yes. “We now know that UVC light can effectively inactivate the SARS-CoV-2 virus without the use of chemicals, and now it’s become a very attractive option for disinfection.” A specific range of UVC light—known as far-UVC light—has become the weapon of choice for autonomous robots designed to clean public spaces. Dr. Macgregor-Skinner notes that many airports, convention centers, arenas, and other facilities he works with are beginning to invest in autonomous cleaning robots that use far-UVC light for disinfection. Far-UVC light is light with a wavelength of 207-222 nanometers—a sweet spot that is very damaging to bacteria and viruses but less hazardous to our skin and eyes than other wavelengths of UV light, making it safer to use around people.
Challenges to cleaning high-touch surfaces by traditional methods persist—most facilities don’t have enough cleaning staff and they don’t have enough time to thoroughly disinfect all surfaces in a room, explains Dr. Macgregor-Skinner. Smart robots, on the other hand, offer benefits that can mitigate these challenges. For one thing, they can be programmed to operate whenever the facility is not in use, including in the middle of the night. Controlled by an app on a phone or tablet, the robots follow a programmed cleaning route while the app tracks cleaning sessions and suggests future cleaning times. Additionally, these robots can be equipped with a range of powerful disinfecting tools, including UVC light, photocatalysts, negative ions, HEPA filters, and more to clean both the air and surfaces.
More important than convenience and efficiency, a growing body of research shows that UVC light is a powerful disinfecting tool that effectively inactivates the virus that causes COVID-19. Dr. Macgregor-Skinner cites several studies published in The American Journal of Infection Control in 2020 that test UVC light against the coronavirus. One study demonstrated that UVC light exposure can completely inactivate large amounts of SARS-CoV-2 in liquid cultures in about nine minutes. Another study tested far-UVC light on a variety of surfaces and found it reduced live coronavirus by 99.7% in just 30 seconds. Additional studies are beginning to test these lab findings in the real world by examining the effect of UVC light on the presence of live coronavirus in actual public buildings, and according to Dr. Macgregor-Skinner, the findings are consistent. “Real-world evidence is going to drive a lot of these new technologies,” Dr. Macgregor-Skinner explains. “Instead of just doing it in the lab, they are now starting to do these studies in real-world situations, in real buildings.”
“2021 is going to be a big year for UVC light—not just in the static displays, not just shining on keyboards like we’ve done in the past when it comes to hospitals—but actually in robots that clean large rooms and move around and do it in a way that’s safe,” Dr. Macgregor-Skinner says. Watch the complete episode of Straight Talk! with Jeff Cross below, and find more Straight Talk! episodes on cleanfax.com. Take part in the engaging online conversations on industry topics by joining the Straight Talk! Facebook group today.