Tuesday, April 19, 2022

An Unexpected Side Effect of COVID-19

 4/19/22 Inside Higher Education:

At the start of the spring semester, the State University of New York at Geneseo purchased 17 ultraviolet lamps to stop the spread of COVID-19. But the lamps damaged the eyes of eight professors and an unknown number of students, WXXI News reported.

Kathy Mapes, associate professor of history at SUNY Geneseo, said she thought the lamp was a space heater. She woke up at 1 a.m. with burning eyes the first night after she was in a classroom with the lamp.

Mapes said she was diagnosed with UV keratitis. The condition is caused by unprotected exposure to ultraviolet rays. She was told that the tissue covering her cornea was damaged.

1 comment:

  1. I see that the device in question has black-coated aluminum baffles that are supposed to keep anyone of normal height out of direct line-of-sight with the UV-emitter tube, so that the thing only 'illuminates' the ceiling and the airspace very close to the ceiling.
    These baffles have a slight up-tilt, so I suspect in addition to the incorrect height reported in the article that they were installed upside-down and directed the UV not at the ceiling, but instead at the far end of the room.
    Because anyone doing something to put themselves above normal height would be at risk, having signage warning of that risk would seem to be pretty essential -- I was in one classroom recently where the computer-projector wasn't responding to the commands of the desktop control, and a student said 'I know what to do" and was on top of a table pressing buttons on the ceiling-mounted projector so quickly that any objections hadn't been formed into words yet.
    I've been running a UV disinfector in my office at work, but it is a model where the UVC source tube is fully enclosed in a fan-driven air cleaner, with interlocks that turn it off if any covers are opened.