Washington, Feb 11 : Scientists have discovered a special type of ultraviolet (UV) light that can kill airborne flu viruses without harming human tissues, according to a new study.
Broad-spectrum ultraviolet C (UVC) light, which has a wavelength of between 200 to 400 nanometres, has been routinely used to kill bacteria and viruses by destroying the molecular bonds that hold their DNA together, reports Xinhua news agency.
"Unfortunately, conventional germicidal UV light is also a human health hazard and can lead to skin cancer and cataracts, which prevents its use in public spaces," said David J.
Brenner, lead author and director of the Centre for Radiological Research at Columbia University Irving Medical Centre, in a statement on Saturday.
By contrast, the study found that continuous low doses of far-UVC light, which is around 207 to 222 nanometers in wavelength, is capable to inactivate more than 95 per cent of aerosolized H1N1 flu virus in a lab setting.
Moreover, earlier studies have proved that far-UVC light is not harmful to the human body.
If these results are confirmed in other scenarios, the use of overhead far-UVC light in hospitals, doctors' offices, schools, airports, airplanes and other public spaces could provide a powerful check on seasonal flu epidemics and pandemics, said the study.
Flu activity continues to increase across the United States, making the season the most recent "high" severity season, the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said in a report on Friday.
Sixty-three children died from flu this winter, it added.