Talks of UV light and its ability to kill the coronavirus has been in the news lately. When I first heard about it, I held a healthy dose of skepticism. To be honest, it seemed far-reaching, perhaps even a waste of ever-precious time.

But then I read about Far-UVC, a type of ultraviolet light that’s currently being studied for its capacity to kill viruses and bacteria that live on surfaces and in the air. To think it could be used to disinfect your vehicle sounds crazy, but it’s a real possibility.

Far-UVC: the basics

Fred Maxik is a former NASA scientist that’s also an avid light inventor. He’s the founder of Lighting Science, a company that produces shatter-proof LEDs as well as a blue light nursery lamp that boosts babies’ circadian rhythms. Amazing as these are, his most recent project with his company Healthe Lighting is a bit more urgent.

Through Healthe, Maxik has developed the first-ever Far-UVC light that’s safe for humans. In the past, people who experimented with these types of lights were struck with dangerously strong frequencies that could cause blindness and skin cancer. But Maxik’s variant makes Far-UVC safe for human use while also maintaining its virus-killing capabilities.

Other esteemed researchers back Maxik’s developments, too.

On April 21, Columbia University’s Center for Radiological Research published a study explaining the intricacies.

“Far-UVC light, which has a very short wavelength (in the range from about 205 to 230 nm), cannot reach or damage living human cells. But these wavelengths can still penetrate and kill very small viruses and bacteria floating in the air or on surfaces.” – Carla Cantor, Columbia News

The FDA and EPA has already approved Far-UVC. Healthe is just one of the companies working to spearhead the production line. We’re at the beginning stages now and prices are already as low as $500 per lamp — rather inexpensive when compared with other brand-new technology. Come mass production, we can expect these prices to fall.

UV light in hospitals and EMS vehicles

Existing UV light technology is already in use in some hospitals and emergency service vehicles. Duke Hospital in particular has found that their use of UV lights have helped cut transmission of drug-resistant organisms like MRSA by 30%. The Michigan Ambulance Service uses remote-activated UV light to disinfect their vehicles.

Once recent developments come to fruition, Marxik says he envisions healthcare workers having access to Far-UVC technology in the form of portal archways. When nurses and first responders leave the hospital or ICU, they can walk through the arch to eliminate any dangerous particles they may be carrying on their clothes and hair. EMTs could clean their vehicles more effectively between patients, even when they’re in the vehicle.

Far-UVC would fit well in places like transportation hubs, schools and shelters. Once hospitals slow down and production of Far-UVC technology ramps up, it only makes sense that you could use the light to disinfect your vehicle, too.

Jaguar Land Rover has been talking about this for awhile

It turns out that the conversation around drivers using UV light to keep their cars clean started pre-pandemic. 

In early 2019, Jaguar Land Rover said they were hoping to include Far-UVC technology in future models. Their reason? The average driver spends 300 hours a year behind the wheel. It only makes sense that they should equip their vehicle with something to keep them healthy and safe. Talk about forward thinking.

If anything could motivate JLR to get that Far-UVC technology on the market, I’m thinking it’s this.

The disinfecting age

Most of the time, I wash my hands until I finish the chorus of Dolly Parton’s Jolene. I clean the doorknobs, light switches and all the other minutiae of my house that would normally be forgotten. I also disinfect the bits and pieces of my four-door interior every time I go somewhere.

The National Center for Biotechnology Information released a study that vehicle interiors are four times dirtier than public toilet seats, mostly because people never think to disinfect their steering wheel, volume knob, seat belt lock or any of the other high-touch areas. I knew that once this information became public knowledge, there was no going back.

The truth is that we’re in the disinfecting age. Far-UVC light technology is an amazing advancement and could make a massive difference for hospitals and other life-sustaining businesses. But they could also make a difference in the average driver’s life, too.

The future is this: disinfect your vehicle with your personal UV light upgrade, and do so in a flash.

Rachel Curry
"Hey! My name's Rachel Curry and I'm a full-time writer who loves telling the world's stories as much as hanging with my dogs (and that's saying a lot). A University of Delaware graduate, I've traveled extensively, living everywhere from Ireland to Thailand. Bylines include Matador Network and Delaware Today."

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    3 Comments

    1. The use of UV light is effective for killing bacteria and viruses, and we should utilize it in more ways.

    2. This sounds like it’s straight out of Mass Effect, or something like that. I’m curious about how the UV rays penetrate into hard to reach areas. Would this be an installation that one’s car goes through, or more of a handheld “wand” that could be waved over areas that are harder to reach?

    3. This is great info. I can’t wait for this to be more widespread and available to everyone at an affordable price.

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