Major light-maker Ushio Inc. has recently launched an ultraviolet lamp that can kill the coronavirus without harming human health — the first of its kind in the world.
The Care 222 UV lamp, which Ushio developed together with Columbia University, is expected to be used for disinfection in spaces where people keep going in and out and the risk of contracting the deadly virus is high, such as on buses, trains and elevators and in offices, the company said.
UV lamps have been widely used as an effective means of sterilization, notably in the medical and food-processing industries. But conventional UV rays cannot be used in spaces where there are people, as they cause skin cancer and eye problems.
Ushio’s new lamp, however, emits UV rays with a wavelength of 222 nanometers, as opposed to the conventional 254-nanometer wavelength, making them lethal to germs but benign to humans.
Ushio Inc.'s Care 222 ultraviolet lamp is set up at the company's head office to disinfect the air and surfaces below. | KYODO
At this particular wavelength, the firm said, UV rays cannot breach the surface of the skin nor the eyes to bring about cancer-causing genetic defects and other damage.
When attached to a ceiling, within six to seven minutes the Care 222 inactivates 99 percent of viruses and bacteria in the air and on up to a 3-square-meter area on the surface of objects some 2.5 meters away from the lamp.
A recent third-party study by Hiroshima University confirmed the 222-nanometer UV rays are effective in killing the new coronavirus, Ushio said.
The 1.2-kilogram Care 222 is about the size of a hardcover book and has a price tag of ¥300,000.
The company said it only accepts orders from medical institutions for the moment but will serve other customers once production catches up with demand.
Ushio has also teamed up with Toshiba Lighting and Technology Corp., a subsidiary of Toshiba Corp., to develop general-purpose lamps with Care 222 emitters installed to cater to a broad range of situations. The companies aim to release such products next January.