uvtio antimicrobial lighting responds to COVID-19 in China

Early in the days of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Chinese government worked with uvtio, a UK lighting company specialising in antimicrobial solutions, to equip its hospitals with antimicrobial lighting systems to reduce pathogenic contamination and reduce the risk to staff and other patients.

The Chinese Government realised early in the pandemic that pathogenicity of COVID-19 appeared in part to be related to environmental viral load, with many of the hospital staff (who were treating pneumonic patients) succumbing to the disease whilst ostensibly not being in the “at risk” cohort of patients.  

To reduce the sickness of front-line clinicians, they needed some means of reducing the airborne and static pathogen load in both their temporary and permanent treatment facilities. Two different technologies were employed.

The first technology involves the use of Titanium Oxide (TiO2) coated LED panels.

These can be suspended temporarily above each patient (or can be permanently installed as a ceiling light). Titanium Oxide is a material used for the purification of water in third world countries, it is inert, odourless and non-toxic, but when used as a surface coating and excited by ultraviolet light it has some very unique properties. Research conducted by Professor Akira Fujishima President of the Tokyo University of Science showed that a nanocoating of Titanium Oxide on UV-enhanced light fittings will oxidise airborne particles in particular bacteria (such as MRSA), viruses and odour molecules. These panels reduce airborne viral contamination.

Micro-droplets containing millions of viral particles tend to drift upwards towards the ceiling after being exhaled, before gradually circulating in the room. Testing by the FDA in the US has shown a 99.9% elimination of airborne viral particles as they pass the LED panel. Korean testing has shown that in hospitals and the workplace.

TiO2-coated LED panels have been used by the Chinese to great effect to reduce airborne pathogen spread. This risk to hospital staff and patients can be reduced significantly by the relatively simple expedient of changing the luminaires in the treatment/nursing wards.

The second technology employed mobile UV units.

Exposure to UV-C light is dangerous. These mobile UV-C units cannot be used whilst a patient is being treated but once a bed is empty this unit comes into operation automatically and provides 30 minutes of UV light disinfection, covering an area of 30 sqm before the next patient is admitted.

This reduces staff time, disinfecting the treatment area and is 100% effective against exposed surface bacteria and viruses, reducing static viral contamination.

The use of these two technologies together assisted the Chinese Government in dealing with the COVID 19 Crisis. By reducing front-line staff illness, ensuring that the highly-skilled and qualified staff were able to stay at their posts during the time when demand for ICU beds was at its highest.

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