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Can UV light kill the coronavirus?

Ultraviolet technology isn’t new; it’s been used in hospitals, research labs, and other areas that need to be germ-free. But now you may be noticing that same technology for sale in places like Costo and drugstores.

That’s because UV light kills up to 99.9% of germs, bacteria, and viruses -- and that may include the coronavirus.

The thing about UV light is that it has sufficient energy to cause damage to cells, DNA, and other biological material, which can make it a powerful disinfectant against viruses and bacteria.

But before you stock up on UV lamps, there are some things you should know.

The light needs direct exposure to kill the coronavirus. That means if the beam of light is blocked by dust, dirt, small crevices, or any other impediment, it may not be fully effective.

Also, many of the UV lamps sold for home use are low-dose, so it may take a longer exposure to a surface area to potentially provide effective inactivation of bacteria or viruses. Waving the light quickly over your countertops probably won’t be enough.

Never look directly at UV light because it can burn your eyes and skin.

If you’ll be purchasing a UV sanitizing lamp, be aware that the light can degrade certain materials like plastic, polymers, and dyed textiles.