REVEALED: Sunshine Actually Kills Bacteria

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Bacteria! These organisms, invisible to the naked eye and found almost everywhere you can think of, have locked horns with humanity in determining how well we feel and live. These germs are responsible for many illnesses and diseases, ranging from common ones like the flu to grievous cases such as Gonorrhea and Syphilis.

And you would have witnessed the great strides humankind goes through in not only finding cures to the symptoms caused by these organisms but also in finding ways of ensuring their extinction. If you have had a friend relative or friend tell you that letting sunshine into a home, effectively kills off bacteria, make out the time to congratulate them on their scientific insight – because recent research reveals that sunlight is indeed effective at exterminating bacteria!

Florence Nightingale made postulations about the sunlight battling bacteria to a standstill, hundreds of years ago. The woman credited as the mother of modern nursing, in her notes on Hospital design stated the following: ‘the axis of award should be as nearly as possible north and south; the windows on both sides, so that the sun shall shine in (from the time he rises till the time he sets) at one side or the other. There should be a window to at least every two beds, as is the case now in our best hospitals’. In other words, rooms with more lighting are better for our wellbeing/health while rooms that are mostly dark are likely to have a greater build-up of bugs and other disease-causing organisms.

But before you go prancing about, thinking all bacteria will die from exposure to sunlight, you should note that the new research posits that only bacteria that live in dust and are linked to problems with respiratory diseases are susceptible to the effects of sunlight.

One of the researchers, Ashkaan Fahimipour from the University of Oregon, stated that the thrust centered on how features/design of rooms and buildings influence dust ecosystems and how this influence affects the health of people.

The study proper saw the team create 11 identical, climate-controlled miniature rooms, where the only variation was the type of light allowed in. Results revealed interesting patterns. Measurements of bacterial levels in the air showed that in dark rooms, 12 percent of the bacteria displayed viability (the ability to live and reproduce). That figure dipped to 6.8 percent in places where daylight was allowed in, and 6.1 percent in rooms awash in ultraviolet light.

Fahimipour further stated that their study corroborated the centuries-held belief that daylight has the potential to kill microbes on dust particles; however, more work is needed to unravel the reasons for the shifts in the dust microbiome following exposure to light, especially as regards how daylighting influences room air quality.

In the end, the team viewed their work as research in progress; the mini rooms may not match real-life situations. Besides, consideration must be given to other factors such as the type and number of microbes lurking in the places, the number of people living in the room as well as how effective the ventilation system is, for the research to churn up more concrete results.

One thought on “REVEALED: Sunshine Actually Kills Bacteria

  • September 27, 2019 at 2:48 am

    Interesting! I remember how my mother used to take my baby brother out under the warm sunshine early in the morning everyday.


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