On Your Side tests UV and UVC products

Published: Nov. 16, 2020 at 6:31 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) -They appear to be the perfect stocking stuffer, especially in a pandemic. We’re talking about UV and UVC products.

The makers promise that they disinfect basically whatever you want. On Your Side put some to the test.

There are plenty of options. Some UV products are to sanitize your phone, air or silverware.

With claims on the box that read, ‘Kills 99.99% Germs’ we wanted to know if these are really worth your hard earned money.

A biology professor, Dr. Christopher Lupfer, at Missouri State University helped us out.

“UVC light has the ability to damage DNA. and that’s why it can kill bacteria or viruses,” he said.

The technology isn’t new, but because of the pandemic it’s commercialized. The effectiveness of killing coronavirus is to be determined.

The FDA issued a warning about these products, saying direct exposure can cause ‘painful eye injury and burn-like skin reactions’.

“I’ve actually known two individuals who unknowingly had a UV light on and they weren’t aware of the negative effects and they temporarily went blind for about a week,” said Dr. Lupfer.

Do they even work? To find out, Dr. Lupfer used a common bacteria. Then directly exposed it to the light for ten and then sixty seconds.

First up was a $35, UVC Air Sanitizer & Deodorizer.

“You can see ten seconds, almost nothing. So the amount of time the air is actually in contact with the light, may not have much of the effect. I had to have it in there for sixty seconds, to see a good effect,” said Dr. Lupfer.

Next, a portable light for $40.

“Ten seconds did almost nothing. It took almost sixty seconds before we start to see the bacteria was killed,” he said.

Then there’s a $50 gadget for your cell phone.

“The nice thing about this is the UV light is inside so there’s less of a chance you get exposed to your eyes. That’s a good safety feature. But what I noticed is, you can lift the lid and the light still stays on,” Dr. Lupfer said as he demonstrated.

How’d it do?

“At ten seconds, we can see there’s a little bit of white on here. There was still some bacteria. Then at sixty seconds, it killed most of the bacteria," said Dr. Lupfer.

Then there’s a $26 wand.

“It killed a lot of the bacteria, but not all of it. At 60 seconds it did kill all of the bacteria,” he said.

Here’s the takeaway from Dr. Lupfer.

“I think a lot of people won’t be that patient. I’m guessing most people are going to move it back and forth and assume it’s done. You’d have to sit here and count to sixty and then move and count to sixty,” he said.

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