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This company is using UV light to help combat the spread of the coronavirus

Fred Maxik, Former NASA scientist & Founder and CTO at Healthe Lighting Science Group, joins Zack Guzman to discuss how UV light may help combat the spread of the coronavirus.

Video Transcript

ZACK GUZMAN: Our coverage over the past couple weeks has been wholly focused on the coronavirus crisis and the way that a lot of entrepreneurs out there have been battling on the front lines. And an interesting idea from President Trump was floated regarding UV light generated a few headlines a couple weeks ago, but one startup is, in fact, using UV light to potentially help in the battle against coronavirus-- maybe not by using UV light inside people but rather outside in workplaces and locations across the country.

For more on that, we're joined by a former NASA scientist leading the charge, founder and CTO at Help Lighting Science Group. Fred Maxik joins us right now. And, Fred, I appreciate you taking the time to chat with us because it is a rather interesting idea. You can tell by the public's reaction to the president's comments. But when you look at the benefits of UV lighting, why are you so convinced that might be the way to help stop the spread of coronavirus out there?

FRED MAXIK: Well, Zack, first let me say the company's name is Healthy Lighting, and that is a subsidiary of LSGC Lighting Science. But the reason we're so excited about it is we've known for decades, quite a few-- nearing almost a hundred years that UV light-- UVC light can disrupt bacteria, can disrupt viruses, and stop them from replicating. The problem has been traditionally that same light is also very, very-- has negative effects on the human body. It can create skin cancers. It can create eye problems.

What's new is over the past decade there's been a lot of good research on far UVC light, and far UVC light has the same types of deleterious effects on pathogens-- on viruses, bacteria. They can deactivate them. They can stop them from replicating-- but do not have those same effects on we humans. So we could put this in an environment we live in in real time and create a dynamic solution that is continuously cleaning our environment and stopping these pathogens from spreading and eliminating some of the vectors by which this contagion is caught.

ZACK GUZMAN: Yeah, I mean, that's one of the issues that you guys are trying to solve here too is that these UV lights could be installed basically in the setting that already exists. You could just put these in the office or, in the case of ambulances, in the back of ambulances to make sure that these environments are clean. I mean, is that enough by itself, or do you need to use this in conjunction with other methods of cleaning out there right now?

FRED MAXIK: Well, I think there's really a systematic approach to pretty much everything that we look at. It's disrupting some of the vectors. It won't replace wearing a face mask in places where we wear face masks. But it'll get the surfaces clean, and we have units that will also do a really good job on cleaning the air in the environment.

ZACK GUZMAN: When you look at what the president was talking about, it was interesting because he was floating the idea of using UV light inside the body. I don't think a lot of people realized that that was something that some people were looking into. What's your take on that in terms of-- far UV, as you said, is an interesting approach, but what's your take on maybe inside versus outside the body?

FRED MAXIK: Well, one of the pieces about far UVC light is it has no penetration whatsoever. So it doesn't matter where you put it. It's only going to be a surface phenomenon. It can't get inside the body, or if it is placed in it, it won't penetrate any tissue. It's got- because it has so much energy, it interacts immediately with the parts of-- the outer layer of our dead skin and never penetrates. So I think there are other lights that can effectively penetrate a body for different purposes but not for something like we're talking about today.

ZACK GUZMAN: All right, very interesting take there. Fred Maxik, former NASA scientist and founder at CTO at Healthy Lighting Science Group. Appreciate the time, Fred. Be well.

FRED MAXIK: Thank you, Zack.