Japanese company Ushio has developed a new kind of ultraviolet (UV) lamp that can kill the coronavirus without being as damaging to human health.
UV lamps have been used before for disinfecting places like hospitals and trains, and to stop the spread of diseases. However, most of them use a 254-nanometer wavelength of light, which can damage skin and eyes and cause things like skin cancer, so they can’t be used when people are around.
But Ushio’s new Care222 lamp produces a wavelength of light that’s 222 nanometers, which can still kill bacteria and viruses, but may be much safer for people. The lamp could be used in places like buses, trains, elevators and offices.
New studies show that 222-nanometer wavelengths may be safe because they are absorbed only by the outer layers of the skin and eyes and do not damage anything underneath. A special filter, based on research from Columbia University, is used on the Care222 that only allows the safer wavelength of light to be released.
A study by Ushio and Kobe University found that the wavelength of light could kill bacteria on people’s skin without leaving signs of damage. And another study from Kobe University found that the wavelength didn’t cause skin cancer in mice.
Researchers from Hiroshima University found that 222-nanometer wavelengths of light could reduce the number of COVID-19-causing viruses by 99.7% when the lamp was placed 24 centimeters away from the virus and was on for 30 seconds.
When put on a ceiling, the Care222 can kill 99% of bacteria and viruses in the air and on a 3-square-meter area on an object about 2.5 meters away. It would take the lamp six to seven minutes to do this.
At the moment, Ushio is only selling the lamps to medical institutions, but it’s working with Toshiba Lighting and Technology Corporation to make lamps for other places. The companies hope to release them in January. The Care222 costs 300,000 yen, or about $2,800.