Glaring Answers: How We’re Taking A New Shine To UV


(Image via: Matt McGee)

Our relationship to ultraviolet light is an environmental pickle. On the one hand, Westerners chase that perfect Californian tan (while other parts of the world pursue pastier complexions) and flirt with unsightly, permanent sun-damage – and on the other, they plaster themselves with non-biodegradable chemicals that coat the surface of the sea, blocking sunlight and causing mass extinctions. Can’t we change the way we use UV for the better? You bet – as the following two examples show.


(Images via: Josh Spear and SteriPen)

UV plays havoc with our skin because it disrupts living tissue, right down to the DNA level – making it a natural, zero-chemical method of killing viruses and bacteria in places that need to be sterile, such as hospital wards. The World Health Organisation already recommends solar water disinfection as the most effective method of scrubbing toxic organisms out of water supplies – and the makers of SteriPen have taken it further, with a battery-powered UV lightstick you poke into your waterbottle to rid it of nasty gremlins. It’s cheap and portable, and unlike using water purification tablets, SteriPen renders your bottle of mountain springwater bacteria-free without compromising the taste.


(Image via: Yanko Design)

So, UV packs a lethal punch. So how do we feel about putting a low-powered UV lamp in our mouths?


(Images via: Yanko Design)

The Shake Toothbrush, as featured at Yanko Design, powers itself up while you’re brushing your teeth by converting that kinetic energy into an electrical charge. When you’ve finished, you press a button and the energy expends itself through LEDs houses behind the bristles, drying the brush head, dousing it in UV and killing off any lurking bacteria. Perfectly hygienic! Except – it looks like you can turn that button on while you are holding it, including when the brush is in your mouth, and here is why that has us worried. Great idea…but let’s have the lightshow docking-station only, please?