UV light and the coronavirus: Big Ass Fans might have a solution

Massive Ass Followers
For probably the most up-to-date information and details about the coronavirus pandemic, go to the WHO website.

For years, docs and well being professionals have been utilizing ultraviolet mild as a disinfectant. Now, a significant ceiling fan producer is mounting UV lights onto the bottom of its sensible ceiling followers, and promising they’ll rid a room of viruses and micro organism inside minutes.

The corporate is Lexington, Kentucky-based Massive Ass Followers, greatest identified for its eponymous industrial ceiling followers, and the maker of the luxurious Haiku line of smart, app-enabled residential ceiling fans. Earlier this 12 months, the corporate rolled out a new “uplight” accessory for these Haiku fashions that casts ornamental mild up onto the ceiling. Then, when the pandemic hit, the corporate thought again to 2011, when it teamed with an structure agency to equip a hospital in Rwanda with ceiling fans to assist enhance the efficacy of wall-mounted UV sanitizers used to kill pathogens like tuberculosis.


A Haiku ceiling fan geared up with virus-killing UVC lights.

Massive Ass Followers

It was your traditional mild bulb second: What if that uplight was a UV sanitizer, with the ceiling fan pulling air up into its disinfection zone? With a head begin on the legwork, the corporate scrambled to motion.

“Mid-March, impulsively, it is form of, wait a minute, we’re already engaged on an uplight,” says Massive Ass Followers spokesperson Alex Risen. “And yeah, we put about 4 months of extra analysis and engineering to ensure that we’re doing this the correct method, however we have been already 90% there.

“Generally in product growth, it is higher to be fortunate than good,” Risen admits.

Now, after an preliminary batch of unbiased lab-based exams, Haiku ceiling followers geared up with UV lights are available for order — the primary sensible dwelling product designed particularly to fight the unfold of COVID-19. With the UV lights including $500 to the already ceiling-high price ticket (normal, non-UV fashions begin at about $1,250), they will not come low-cost.

Compelling claims

“Seamlessly built-in atop the fan, Haiku’s UVC fixture directs invisible mild upward, killing as much as 99.9% of viruses, micro organism, mould, and different dangerous airborne brokers that go by the disinfection zone,” the company promises. “Haiku’s highly effective air mixing improves circulation throughout the house, bringing extra pathogens into the disinfection zone and halting the unfold of illness.”

That is fairly the declare — however the science is sound. UV mild from the solar is the environment’s primary germicide, one thing scientists have been documenting as early as 1877. Hospitals have been harnessing that power for years, with particular UV lamps and wands used to sterilize rooms and gear. This 12 months, airlines, cruise ships and other businesses have begun utilizing quite a lot of UV techniques to sanitize widespread areas.

The invisible mild is not sensible to be used in houses and round individuals, as a result of direct exposure is dangerous for eyes and skin — however that is the place the ceiling fan method appears to make sense. With the UV mild supply sitting above the fan blades and shining up in direction of the ceiling, there is no threat of publicity for anybody sitting beneath. Massive Ass Followers says that it at all times adheres to any applicable certification standards required for authorized sale and consumption, and that the Haiku UVC isn’t any totally different. The corporate provides that the lights are programmed to not shine when the fan is off, which permits for secure cleansing and upkeep.

“We’d say if you wish to run it 24/7, we’ve got 100% confidence in working it 24/7,” Risen says. “The one influence is a constructive influence in that it could proceed to kill pathogens.”

Early testing appears to be like promising. In April, the corporate employed a crew of third-party researchers from Intertek to check the fan’s effectiveness. The researchers put in it in a 1,000-cubic-foot check chamber, then launched a small quantity of phi X 174, a bacteriophage generally used as a stand-in for deadlier pathogens in exams like these. After 10 minutes with the Haiku spinning overhead, the researchers eliminated a petri dish from the room, let it sit in a single day, after which in contrast it with a petri dish from an equivalent chamber with no fan in any respect.

“We really acquired a 99.9% kill price inside 10 minutes,” Risen says. “They usually know that [phi X 174] is a superb surrogate for many issues which might be tough to kill within the air. So if it does properly in opposition to this, your confidence is that it’ll do properly in opposition to different stuff, too.”


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A transmission electron microscope captured this image of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, which causes COVID-19.


But can UV light kill COVID-19?

We don’t know for sure, but there’s good reason to think that the answer is yes. UV light has already been proven effective against influenza and against other kinds of coronaviruses, including the ones that cause SARS and MERS. Researchers at Columbia University were recently able to kill 99.9% of exposed airborne coronaviruses like those using low doses of low wavelength, “far-UVC” light that isn’t strong enough to penetrate human eye or skin tissue. Just recently, a study published to the preprint database medRxiv on June 26 and currently awaiting peer review found confirmation that UV light kills SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Not all UV light is created equal. There are actually four kinds: UVA, UVB, UVC and vacuum UV. The one you want for disinfecting purposes is UVC, the wavelength for which falls between 100 and 280 nanometers. Exposure to UVC light in the right dosage and at the right wavelength can damage the DNA and RNA in organic cells, which stops them from replicating (and don’t worry: UVC light from the sun gets completely absorbed by the Earth’s atmosphere).

Most medical-grade UVC applications seem to zero in on 254 nanometers as the target wavelength for close-contact disinfection, but Big Ass Fans dials the diodes up a little higher.

“The sweet spot that we’re looking at is UVC, specifically 260 to 270 nanometers,” Risen says. “We’re pretty much always right in that 265 range, right in between.”

We’ll know soon if the company’s math checks out. Last week, Big Ass Fans began a new round of tests with Innovative Bioanalysis, a certified safety research laboratory in California. The tests will be similar to before — but this time, they’ll be testing for efficacy against the virus that causes COVID-19, not a man-made stand-in. 

Big Ass Fans expects the results from those tests later this month.


Big Ass Fans’ less expensive Haiku model, the L Series, doesn’t yet support the UV light attachment.

Ry Crist/CNET

What’s next?

“We have certainly talked to some schools,” Risen tells me, describing how the fans might be useful for sanitizing classrooms in the minutes between classes, when students are changing rooms. “The conversation is, ‘Can they use CARES Act money to purchase an active air disinfection system?'”

The company is in talks with Kentucky’s horse-racing industry, too, and looking into ways that the fans might be used to help sanitize places like guest suites and skyboxes between events. Big Ass Fans adds that a number of businesses across the country have already placed orders.

“One of the most recent places was a climbing facility in Seattle,” Risen says.

But at $1,750 or more, it’s difficult to imagine this fan making its way into many homes. And, notably, Big Ass Fans isn’t bringing the UV technology to its less expensive “L Series” line of Haiku smart ceiling fans. The UV lights aren’t available as a retrofit attachment for existing fans, either.

“It’s unlikely we’ll add it to the Haiku L,” Risen says. “Future options allowing for a downlight and a UVC above motor would be more what we’re targeting.”

In other words, don’t expect to see a version of this fan that doesn’t cost upwards of $2,000 anytime soon.

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PJ is the Digital Marketer & Founder of PJ Digital Marketing, has involved in this field from 2010 onwards. Also the owner of a few more sites in different fields.