Should public authorities promote UV-C lights to fight COVID 19?

What if the solution for a return to normal life already exists? In any case, this is what the LigthingEurope working group, representing the lighting sector in Europe, claims. They are united to ask the public authorities to take charge of the subject of UV-C ray lamps to fight against COVID 19. UV-C for category C ultraviolet rays. As a reminder, UV rays are divided into 3 categories: UVA, which forms 95% of ultraviolet rays and which carry only a little more energy than visible light. Next come UVB, which is more energetic, and finally UVC, which is even more energetic. The good news is that these latter cities have been used as disinfectants for over a century.

“There is no study yet on the survival of COVID-19 under UV light, but it would be extremely surprising if this virus is more resistant to it than the others,” says Pierre Talbot, researcher and specialist in coronaviruses. However, these can present risks, especially for the skin in case of prolonged exposure. Professionals see it as a public service mission. UV-C lighting must be promoted, while ensuring prevention against its risks. Explanations.

Recognized technology, but not without risk

The usefulness of UV-C for fighting against viruses was discovered in 1910. Pathogens and microorganisms travel by air. UVC has sufficient wave to irradiate these microorganisms. Installations based on UV-C luminaires were quickly installed, particularly in hospitals. Although an official study has not yet been released on the subject, all the findings point in the same direction. COVID 19 would not resist UV-C rays.

So why not replace all the lights that we see during the day with UV-C? Because they involve risks. The dangers are real, but only with prolonged or intense exposure. The risks are cutaneous (burns, cancer …) or ocular (conjunctivitis, cataracts …). The warnings, especially from the European Union, are quite explicit on the subject. What to do ? For professionals in the sector, represented by the LigthingEurope union, the answer is clear. It is up to the public authorities to take their responsibilities and to carry out the installation of luminaires accompanied by prevention devices.

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UV-C, symbols of the need for a strong public policy?

Sébastien Flet Reitz, president of the UV-C working group at LightingEurope, details the union’s position. “The knowledge of UV-C in the collective unconscious is insufficient, even non-existent, to be able to use them on a large scale … one can imagine that the health authorities explain, and warn about the precautions to be taken when using UV lights -C in complete safety, while explaining the benefits of these techniques. In short, the union advocates a public policy based on a precise legal framework and a prevention policy. Or, as Sébastien Flet Reitz calls it, a real UV-C “highway code”. At its expense, the union has apparently not yet produced a real white paper that can guide the institutions. Only practical guides as well as a “position paper” detailing its position on the subject.

The massive use of UV-C lights to fight COVID 19, professionals in the sector are calling for it (and must dream about it). But the public policy they advocate does not seem ready to see the light of day. To be continued …