What is UV Light?

With hand sanitizer flying off the shelves almost immediately, people have turned to nature’s way of fighting the coronavirus: ultraviolet light.

UV light isn’t something new; it’s already being used in hospitals, the food industry, and pharmaceuticals. Scientists believe that UV light could potentially zap away dangerous bacteria and pathogens in the air, helping contain the spread of COVID-19.

What is UV Light?

Ultraviolet (UV) light comes from the sun, but is invisible to the human eye. Sunlight is an extremely effective form of disinfectant -- this is why people recommend hanging clothes under the heat of the sun instead of using a laundry dryer. UV light kills harmful microorganisms, including pathogens in bacteria and fungi, by restricting cell division. The bacteria absorb the light into their DNA or RNA, which eventually kills them.

Although UV light naturally comes from the sun, humans have developed man-made sources of ultraviolet light used in tanning, dental curing, and detecting counterfeit banknotes, among others.

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