Ultraviolet (UV) light such as fluorescent lamps, microcavity plasmas, and LEDs can inactivate the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the virus that causes COVID-19.
The study, published in the journal ACS Nano, says that using UV light may be an efficient, easily deployable, and economically affordable method to reduce COVID-19 transmission in indoor spaces.
It noted that by irradiating this type of light inside the ventilation systems of buildings and in shared indoor spaces while not in use, it is possible to quickly and efficiently deactivate airborne and surface-deposited SARS-CoV-2 viruses that cause COVID-19.
The researchers, including those from CFO - The Institute of Photonic Sciences in Spain, also explored costs and investments in deploying such technology.
They explained that a global capital investment of a few billion dollars in UV-C sources could protect indoor workers worldwide.
A long series of studies suggest that virus transmission in indoor spaces has a much higher transmission rate than outdoors, the researchers noted.
Filters and chemicals have been presented as possible solutions to minimise this problem, they said.
However, even though these are efficient solutions to reduce the concentration of contaminated particles and droplets through ventilation systems, their installation may be costly and time-consuming, according to the researchers.
In addition, chemicals such as ozone are very effective for virus disinfection, but if misused they are harmful for humans, they sad.
An international team of experts in the fields of virology, immunology, aerosols, architecture, and physics, surveyed the possible methods to prevent SARS-CoV-2 propagation in indoor spaces.
"We advocate the widespread use of UV-C light as a short-term, easily deployable, and affordable way to limit virus spread in the current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic," the researchers, including Professor Javier Garca de Abajo, wrote in the journal.
The researchers noted radical social distancing with the associated shutdown of schools, restaurants, sport clubs, workplaces, and traveling has been shown to be effective in reducing virus spread, but its economic and social costs are unsustainable in the medium term.
They argue that additional measures are necessary to reduce virus transmission when people resume attending schools and jobs that require proximity or some degree of physical contact.
Among the available alternatives, UV-C light satisfies the requirements of rapid, widespread, and economically viable deployment, according to the researchers.
"Its implementation is only limited by current production capacities, an increase of which requires swift intervention by industry and authorities," they said.