Local News

Wake Forest Company Sheds New Light On Harmful Bacteria

Posted October 22, 2001 5:03 a.m. EDT

— A Wake Forest company wants to shed light on the current anthrax scare.

MedFaxx, Inc. is marketing an ultraviolet C lamp designed to kill all pathogens, including anthrax. The company's owner believes the lamp can be used to fight a biological war.

Bob Johnson has seen the light. It is dim, but very powerful.

"There's a portion of the ultraviolet light that's very good. It tends to kill all sorts of bugs, be it bacteria, viruses, [or] molds," he said.

The C-band of the ultraviolet spectrum can cause burns or skin cancer. Johnson said a sweeping, 4-watt dose at close range can clean any visible surface.

For killing anthrax spores or other contaminants floating in the air, a 960-watt room sanitizer is on the market.

"So we have a delayed timer. The person hits it, they walk out of the room, and this thing goes off and it's literally cleansing the room," said Johnson.

Anti-bacterial agents found in many cleaning products, like soap, have become a popular way of killing common bacteria. However, the more those products are used, the more bacteria becomes immune to them.

Bacteria cannot adapt to UVC light.

"It either kills them or it weakens them. You can come back and kill them again if you just weakened them," said Johnson.

The $500, 4-watt Wound Healer is FDA-approved, but requires a prescription for medical use.

Johnson has been getting more calls about its practical use, sterilizing surfaces and rooms.

"We're definitely getting them from people that work around mail," he said.

The lamp will not kill spores inside envelopes or packages, or spores inside the body once a person is infected. Still, Johnson believes it is certainly one weapon that can help turn around the war against germs.

The same UVC technology is being used in hospitals for sterilization in the food industry and in water purification systems.