The germicidal potential of specific wavelengths within the electromagnetic spectrum is an area of growing interest. While ultra-violet (UV) based technologies have shown satisfactory virucidal potential, the photo-toxicity in humans coupled with UV associated polymer degradation limit their use in occupied spaces. Alternatively, longer wavelengths with less irradiation energy such as visible light (405 nm) have largely been explored in the context of bactericidal and fungicidal applications. Such studies indicated that 405 nm mediated inactivation is caused by the absorbance of porphyrins within the organism creating reactive oxygen species which result in free radical damage to its DNA and disruption of cellular functions. The virucidal potential of visible-light based technologies has been largely unexplored and speculated to be ineffective given the lack of porphyrins in viruses. The current study demonstrated increased susceptibility of lipid-enveloped respiratory pathogens of importance such as SARS-CoV-2 (causative agent of COVID-19) and influenza A virus to 405 nm, visible light in the absence of exogenous photosensitizers thereby indicating a potential alternative porphyrin-independent mechanism of visible light mediated viral inactivation. These results were obtained using less than expected irradiance levels which are considered safe for humans and commercially achievable. Our results support further exploration of the use of visible light technology for the application of continuous decontamination in occupied areas within hospitals and/or infectious disease laboratories, specifically for the inactivation of respiratory pathogens such as SARS-CoV-2 and Influenza A.
© 2021. The Author(s).