Thursday 3 February 2022

Smart windows significantly reduce indoor pathogens


Daylight passing through smart windows results in almost complete disinfection of surfaces within 24 hours while still blocking harmful ultraviolet (UV) light, according to new research from UBC's Okanagan campus.


Researchers at UBC Okanagan's School of Engineering tested four strains of hazardous bacteria -- methicillin-resistance Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella pneumoniae, E. coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa -- using a mini-living lab set-up. The lab had smart windows, which tint dynamically based on outdoor conditions, and traditional windows with blinds. The researchers found that, compared to windows with blinds, the smart windows significantly reduce bacterial growth rate and their viability.


In their darkest tint state, smart windows blocked more than 99.9 per cent of UV light, but still let in short-wavelength, high-energy daylight which acts as a disinfectant. This shorter wavelength light effectively eliminated contamination on glass, plastic and fabric surfaces.


In contrast, traditional window blinds blocked almost all daylight, preventing surfaces from being disinfected. Blinds also collect dust and germs that get resuspended into the air whenever adjusted.


The findings demonstrate the benefits of smart windows for disinfection, and have implications for infectious disease transmission in laboratories, health-care facilities and the buildings in which we live and work.


The results of the research are particularly important for laboratories and health-care facilities. Sterile spaces are critical in labs, where sensitive materials must be protected from UV radiation and environmental contamination. Passive environmental strategies, like allowing daylight through windows without blinds, can help keep the risk of infections down.




Man In Lam, Kinga Vojnits, Michael Zhao, Piers MacNaughton, Sepideh Pakpour. The effect of indoor daylight spectrum and intensity on viability of indoor pathogens on different surface materials. Life Sciences 2022


Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle, Pharmaceutical Microbiology Resources (

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