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UV history

Following the discovery of ultraviolet (literally “beyond violet”) light in 1801, almost another full century would pass before UV light’s application could begin to be fully appreciated. In a landmark 1877 study dubbed “one of the most influential discoveries in all of photobiology,”xxx British scientists Arthur Downes and T.P. Blunt declared that “light is inimical [hostile] to the development of bacteria.”xxxi

Not long after, Danish physician Niels Finsen began experimenting with this ultraviolet “chemical light”xxxii against bacterial forms. Famously, he opened a clinic to treat the skin disease lupus vulgaris with UV phototherapy, demonstrating a high curative rate. His success earned him the 1903 Nobel Prize in Medicine, and the selection committee proclaimed that Finsen “has opened a new avenue for medical science.”xxxiii

The next year, German ophthalmologist Erst Hertel began publishing his work with beaming UV light through prisms to separate out its different wavelengths. He had tested the varying degrees of germicidal effectiveness according to wavelength, finding the shortest bands (UV-C) to be the most effective.xxxiv And after William F. Wells demonstrated UV-C’s potential near-total effectiveness against airborne pathogens,xxxv the research floodgates opened. This has directly led to the current proliferation of research on the efficacy of UV-C technology.



Airetrex 365 and Remington Air cannot explicitly endorse UV-C technology as effective means of combating the COVID-19 virus.

Due to the rapid spread and global severity of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus, the scientific community has had relatively little time to properly investigate the effects of ultraviolet disinfection on the SARS-CoV-2 pathogen. While somexxv preliminaryxxvi researchxxvii has shown promisingxxviii resultsxxix for UV disinfection technology, much remains unknown about its efficacy and recommended intensities/wavelengths.

Many households and hospitals alike are currently exploring the use of various UV-C disinfection devices at this time, but a large majority of the relevant academic investigation is still awaiting necessary scrutiny, peer review, and validation from the broader scientific community. Until a broader consensus can be reached, we will not make any claims that might negatively impact anyone’s ongoing health and safety.


  • i Jelden KC, Gibbs SG, Smith PW, Hewlett AL, Iwen PC, Schmid KK, Lowe JJ. Ultraviolet (UV)-reflective paint with ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) improves decontamination of nosocomial bacteria on hospital room surfaces. J Occup Environ Hyg. 2017; 14(6): 456-460.
  • ii Ethington T, Newsome S, Waugh J, Lee, LD. Cleaning the air with ultraviolet germicidal irradiation lessened contact infections in a long-term acute care hospital. Am J Infect Control. 2018; 46(5): 482–6.
  • iii Andersen BM, Bånrud H, Bøe E, Bjordal O, Drangsholt F. Comparison of UV C light and chemicals for disinfection of surfaces in hospital isolation units. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2006; 27(7): 729-34.
  • iv Casini B, Tuvo B, Cristina ML, Spagnolo AM, Totataro M, Baggiani A, Privitera GP. Evaluation of an Ultraviolet C (UVC) light-emitting device for disinfection of high touch surfaces in hospital critical areas. Int J Environ Res Public Health 2019; 16(19): 3572.
  • v Del Mundo FD, McKhann CF. Effect of ultraviolet irradiation of air on incidence of infections in an infants' hospital. Am J Dis Child. 1941; 61: 213–25.
  • vi Lidwell OM. Ultraviolet radiation and the control of airborne contamination in the operating room. J Hosp Infect 1994; 28: 245–8.
  • vii Wells WF, Wells MW, Wilder TS. The environmental control of epidemic contagion I: An epidemiologic study of radiant disinfection of air in day schools. Am J Hyg 1942; 35: 97–121.
  • viii Menzies D, Popa J, Hanley JA, Rand T, Milton DK. Effect of ultraviolet germicidal lights installed in office ventilation systems on workers' health and wellbeing: Double-blind multiple crossover trial. Lancet 2003; 362: 1785–91.
  • ix Kovach CR, Taneli Y, Neiman T, Dyer EM, Arzaga AJ, Kelber ST. Evaluation of an ultraviolet room disinfection protocol to decrease nursing home microbial burden, infection and hospitalization rates. BMC Infect Dis 2017; 17: 186
  • x Eisenlöffel L, Reutter T, Horn M, Schlegel S, Truyen U, Speck S. Impact of UVC-sustained recirculating air filtration on airborne bacteria and dust in a pig facility. PLoS ONE 2019; 14(11): e0225047.
  • xi Whitby GE. The treatment of spa water with ozone produced by UV light. J Int Ozone Assoc 1989; 11(3): 313–24.
  • xii Wong T, Woznow T, Petrie M, Murzello E, Muniak A, Kadora A, Bryce E. Postdischarge decontamination of MRSA, VRE, and Clostridium difficile isolation rooms using 2 commercially available automated ultraviolet-C-emitting devices. Am J Infect Control. 2016; 44(4): 416-20.
  • xiii Lee, LD. Surface and air: What impact does UV-C at the room level have on airborne and surface bacteria? Can J Infect Control. 2017; 32(2): 108–111.
  • xiv Wong T, Woznow T, Petrie M. Postdischarge decontamination of MRSA, VRE, and clostridium difficile isolation rooms using 2 commercially available automated ultraviolet-C-emitting devices. Am J Infect Control 2016; 44: 416–20.
  • xv Escombe AR, Moore DAJ, Gilman RH, Navincopa M, Ticona E, et al. (2009) Upper-room ultraviolet light and negative air ionization to prevent tuberculosis transmission. PLoS Med 6(3): e1000043.
  • xvi Sharp DG. The lethal action of short ultraviolet rays on several common pathogenic bacteria. J Bateriol 1939; 37(4): 447–60.
  • xvii Caillet-Fauquet P, Di Giambattista M, Draps M-L, Sandras F, Branckaert T, de Launoit Y, Laub R. Continuous-flow UVC irradiation: A new, effective protein activity-preserving system for inactivating bacteria and viruses, including erythrovirus B19. J Virol Methods 2004; 118(2): 131–9.
  • xviii McDevitt JJ, Rudnick SN, Radonovich LJ. Aerosol susceptibility of influenza virus to UV-C light. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2012; 78(6):1666–9.
  • xix McDevitt JJ, Milton DK, Rudnick SN, First MW. Inactivation of poxviruses by upper-room UVC light in a simulated hospital room environment. PLoS ONE 2008; 3(9): e3186.
  • xx Beck SE, Rodriguez RA, Hawkins MA, Hargy TM, Larason TC, Linden KG. Comparison of UV-induced inactivation and RNA damage in MS2 phage across the germicidal UV spectrum. Appl Environ Microbiol 2016; 82: 1468–74.
  • xxi Valero A, Begum M, Leong SL, Hocking AD, Ramos AJ, Sanchis V, Marin S. Effect of germicidal UVC light on fungi isolated from grapes and raisins. Soc Appl Microbiol 2007; 45: 238–43.
  • xxii Levetin E, Shaughnessy R, Rogers CA, Scheir R. Effectiveness of germicidal UV radiation for reducing fungal contamination within air-handling units. Appl Environ Microbiol 2001; 67: 3712–5.
  • xxiii Romanchenko M, Kundenko N, Sanin Y. Analysis of the effect of ultraviolet irradiation on Varroa mite. E Eurpoean J Ent Tech 2018; 5(91): 47–52.
  • xxiv Lah EFC, Musa RNA, Ming HT. Effect of germicidal UV-C light (254 nm) on eggs and adult of house dustmites, Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus and Dermatophagoides farina (astigmata: Pyroglyhidae). Asian Pac J Trop Biomed 2012; 2(9): 679–683.
  • xxv Buonanno M, Welch D, Shuryak I, Brenner D. Far-UVC light (222 nm) efficiently and safely inactivates airborne human coronaviruses. Scientific Reports 2020; 10(1): 1–5.
  • xxvi Heßling M, Hönes K, Vatter P, Lingenfelder C. Ultraviolet irradiation doses for coronavirus inactivation — review and analysis of coronavirus photoinactivation studies. GMS Hyg Infect Control 2020; 15.
  • xxvii Tang L, Liu M, Ren B, Wu Z, Yu X, Peng C, Tian J. Sunlight ultraviolet radiation dose is negatively correlated with the percent positive of SARS-CoV-2 and four other common human coronaviruses in the U.S. Sci Tot Environ 2020; 751: 141816.
  • xxviii Eickmann M, Gravemann U, Handke W, Tolksdorf F, Reichenberg S, Muller TH, Seltsam A. Inactivation of three emerging viruses – severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus, Crimean–Congo haemorrhagic fever virus and Nipah virus – in platelet concentrates by ultraviolet C light and in plasma by methylene blue plus visible light. Vox Sanguinis 2020; 116: 146–51.
  • xxix Mackenzie D. Ultraviolet light fights new virus. Engineering (Beijing) 2020; 6(8): 851–3.
  • xxx Hockberger PE. A history of ultraviolet photobiology for humans, animals and microorganisms. Photochem Photobiol. 2002; 76(6): 561-79.
  • xxxi Downes A, Blunt TP. The influence of light upon the development of bacteria. Nature 1877; 16: 218.
  • xxxii Finsen NR. Om anvendelse i medicinen af koncentrerede kemiske lysstraaler. [On the application in medicine of concentrated chemical rays of light]. 1896. Kjøbenhavn: Gyldendalske Boghandels Forlag.
  • xxxiii Gøtzsche PC. Niels Finsen’s treatment for lupus vulgaris. J Roy Soc Med 2011; 104(1): 41–2.
  • xxxiv Hertel E. Ueber Beeinflussung des Organismus durch Licht, speziell durch die chemisch wirksamen Strahlen [On influencing the organism through light, especially through the chemically active rays]. Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Physiologie. 1904; 4: 1–43.
  • xxxv Wells WF, Fair GM. Viability of B. coli exposed to ultraviolet radiation in air. Science 1935; 62(2125): 280–1.

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