For years, ultraviolet light has been integrated into foodservice equipment, in cabinets that sterilize knives or flatware, and in ice machines and ventilation equipment to clean, disinfect and inhibit bacteria growth. Now solutions like these are getting a second look as a tool for fighting COVID-19.

What is it? There are three types of UV radiation: We encounter UVA as sunlight that causes tanning and contributes to aging skin. UVB is stronger, leading to sunburn and skin cancers. UVC is the most powerful and damaging, making it effective for sanitization (it is fully absorbed by the Earth’s atmosphere, so we don’t come into contact with it outdoors).

How does it clean? Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation is a disinfection method that uses UVC short-wavelength ultraviolet radiation to kill or inactivate viral, bacterial and fungal micro-organisms.

The CDC and local governments have recommended using UV light as a supplemental tool against coronavirus, but warn that its effectiveness depends on the dose. Furthermore, UV rays are harmful and must be used with caution. Applications are still being studied and developed, so do your homework before choosing a solution.

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