27-05-2021 | | By Robin Mitchell
Recently, reports have been coming from independent laboratories confirming the effects of 420nm light against viruses such as COVID-19. What challenges has COVID presented in public areas, what does VYV do, and how could their products change the offices of the future?
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted everyday life as we know it; lockdowns prevent us from travelling as we please, isolation prevents us from interacting with others, and toilet paper has seen waves of scarcity. However, the workplace has arguably seen the biggest changes regardless of how bad of a pandemic or incident occurs. The economy must continue to operate.
Upon the announcement of lockdowns in the UK, scores of offices remained empty, and workers would instead work from home. Now that the fight against COVID-19 is coming to a conclusion, people are looking to return to their offices, but the threat of COVID still remains. If an employee is found to be infected, an entire office floor could be sent home to isolate if anyone has symptoms of the virus, office desks, chairs, and equipment all need to be sterilized as to contain the spread of a potential pathogen.
VYV is a manufacturer of specially designed lights that can be used to kill viruses and bacteria. The lighting technology, which uses light at the 420nm mark, is visible light with a deep purple appearance. The choice of 420nm is important as this frequency of light has been shown to deactivate viruses and kill some bacteria while remaining harmful to humans.
One study shows that light at 400nm can cause retina lesions, but light at 420nm shows no cellular damage at all. According to VYV, their 420nm lights kill pathogens by activating photo-sensitive molecules that, when activated, initiate cell death. Furthermore, only micro-organisms that contain non-iron porphyrin molecules are affected (this is related to the anaerobic nature of micro-organisms such as bacteria).
Recent research from VYV demonstrates that their light products can deactivate COVID viruses, and have claimed that their products can deactivate a virus with 99.98% success in six hours of exposure. Molex, a manufacturer of connectors, has also stated that their research into light of 420nm can deactivate 99.8% of the COVID virus but did not specify the length of time needed.
Future offices and workplaces could introduce light panels in the 420nm frequency to provide continual sterilization. Furthermore, the use of higher-powered combined lighting solutions could perform deep sterilization during off-hours (such as during the night). This is a goal that VYV is aiming to achieve, and has lighting products that integrate both the 420nm spectrum and regular white light spectrum. Such lights not only provide illumination but also simultaneously sterilize. The lack of effect on human tissue also has added benefit; such workplaces could be under constant sterilization. Such lighting technology could even be moved to hospitals that are often under threat from more deadly pathogens such as “super-bugs” like MRSA.
However, installing such high-frequency lighting in workplaces and areas of continual use should be done so with caution. While research does suggest that light in the 420nm range is not harmful to human health, long term exposure may suggest otherwise. The UV spectrum of light causes skin damage due to its ionizing effect, and 420nm is only 20nm short of ionization capability (research already shows that 400nm can cause retina lesions). While the energy of 420nm may not be sufficient to cause damage, manufacturers of 420nm lights would need to deploy strict controls and tolerances on such lights; any manufacturing defects that lower the frequency would have to be detected and rejected otherwise users would be exposing themselves to potentially cancerous light.