Thank you to all the dedicated healthcare professionals and first responders that are truly our heroes. This terrible time reminds all of us of all the ways that we are connected as humans – perhaps in some ways we had forgotten. People from all walks of life find themselves wanting to help in some way. In that same spirit, IUVA and Peterson Publications have come together to put out this special ENews edition of UV Solutions.
In collecting my thoughts about the multiple aspects surrounding the many questions of how UV technology can assist in the risk reduction of COVID-19 by limiting its spread, particularly in the healthcare and first responder sectors, I share the following:
- There is a pressing need to do something immediately while keeping in mind a very basic principle of medicine: “First do no harm.”
- The field of UV technology has wrestled for many years with the understanding that there is a wide variety of information and misinformation on all aspects of UV technology applications.
- Engineers understand that there are significant gaps in knowledge and that long-term research efforts to fill those gaps must be undertaken, but the need to do something is immediate.
- IUVA was formed for many reasons, and one of them was to bring a rational scientific and engineering approach to applications of UV technology.
- The healthcare professionals and the first responders are calling out for immediate help and many are going to apply one sort of UV device or another because it is all they have, and because they have some reasons to believe it can help.
- IUVA professionals recognize that the vast majority of small-scale UV devices used for disinfection of everything from CPAP machines to home toothbrushes or combs have not been subjected to rigorous engineering design and validation testing.
- There are many basic concepts of UV disinfection that are misunderstood or misinterpreted, such as how much UV254 energy (Watts-second) or power (Watts) does a typical low-mercury vapor pressure UV lamp actually deliver? For example, a typical TUV 60W UV lamp that is installed in small scale, batch, lab-top devices is likely delivering somewhere in the range of 13W of UV254 power.
- Many users of small-scale UV devices do not realize that the distance from the lamps will be a critical factor in actual UV irradiance (fluence rate) and delivered UV dose (fluence). Nor do they have the training or the time to wrestle with the reality that all UV devices are complex optical systems.
- All of the issues surrounding the selection of UV dose for a given log inactivation of organisms, such as coronavirus, and how which surrogates to use in testing take many IUVA members back to the days of developing the UVDGM for drinking water. Virtually all those same issues are here for COVID-19. Some papers do excellent work on the virology but suspect work on measuring and applying a UV dose while others do an excellent job on the science and engineering of applying UV dose but their virology of microbiological techniques may be suspect.
- When thinking about dosing of surfaces, there are a few new aspects that IUVA water folks did not have as first line considerations. The nature of the surface – porous, UV sorbtive or reflective – and how much UV can the material withstand before it loses function.
In conclusion, there are more questions than answers. The involved stakeholders will be using UV to some degree because these are desperate times. The marketplace will respond to this need with all the energy it can. I believe the role of IUVA is to take all of our collective knowledge and help producers and users of UV devices apply them in a manner that first, does no harm, and second, produces a meaningful level of risk reduction to fight the spread of COVID-19.
In that spirit, the IUVA COVID-19 task force is moving forward as efficiently as possible to produce educational materials. For more information, visit http://www.iuva.org/COVID-19?fbclid=IwAR28x4szEYQglY061oOhxmReb_9QY0cH9WDPIRMppCZ_x9gTGC-_Fzs0L7E.