405 nm light technology for the inactivation of pathogens and its potential role for environmental disinfection and infection control

Michelle MacLean, Karen McKenzie, John Anderson, George Gettinby, Scott MacGregor

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Background: Although the germicidal properties of ultraviolet (UV) light have long been known, it is only comparatively recently that the antimicrobial properties of visible violet–blue 405 nm light have been discovered and used for environmental disinfection and infection control applications.

Aim: To review the antimicrobial properties of 405 nm light and to describe its application as an environmental decontamination technology with particular reference to disinfection of the hospital environment.

Methods: Extensive literature searches for relevant scientific papers and reports.

Findings: A large body of scientific evidence is now available that provides underpinning knowledge of the 405 nm light-induced photodynamic inactivation process involved in the destruction of a wide range of prokaryotic and eukaryotic microbial species, including resistant forms such as bacterial and fungal spores. For practical application, a high-intensity narrow-spectrum light environmental disinfection system (HINS-light EDS) has been developed and tested in hospital isolation rooms. The trial results have demonstrated that this 405 nm light system can provide continuous disinfection of air and exposed surfaces in occupied areas of the hospital, thereby substantially enhancing standard cleaning and infection control procedures.

Conclusion: Violet–blue light, particularly 405 nm light, has significant antimicrobial properties against a wide range of bacterial and fungal pathogens and, although germicidal efficacy is lower than UV light, this limitation is offset by its facility for safe, continuous use in occupied environments. Promising results on disinfection efficacy have been obtained in hospital trials but the full impact of this technology on reduction of healthcare-associated infection has yet to be determined.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Hospital Infection
Early online date3 Jul 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • light technology
  • inactivation of pathogens
  • environmental disinfection
  • infection control
  • hospital-acquired infection
  • violet–blue 405 nm light
  • disinfection


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