How ultraviolet technology can be used to kill coronavirus

Ultraviolet technology isn't new; it's been used in hospitals, research labs, and other areas that need to be germ-free. But now you may be noticing that same technology for sale in places like Costco and drugstores.

That's because UV light kills up to 99.9% of germs, bacteria, and viruses -- and that may include the coronavirus.

"The thing about Ultraviolet is it is of sufficient energy to cause damage to cells, DNA, and other biological material, which can make it a powerful disinfectant against viruses and bacteria," said James Dickerson, Consumer Reports chief scientist.

But before you stock up on UV lamps, there are some things you should know.

The light needs direct exposure to kill the coronavirus. That means if the beam of light is blocked by dust, dirt, small crevices, or any other impediment, it may not be fully effective.

Also, many of the UV lamps sold for home use are low-dose, so it may take a longer exposure to a surface area to potentially provide effective inactivation of bacteria or viruses. Waving the light quickly over your countertops probably won't be enough.

And because UV can burn eyes and skin, Dickerson warns, "Some devices turn off when opened, but if you own a product with an exposed UV lamp, never look directly at the light."

If you'll be purchasing a UV sanitizing lamp, be aware that the light can degrade certain materials like plastic, polymers, and dyed textiles.

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