It probably sounded like a good idea at the time.

An employee at the Aleris rolling mill in Lewisport recently placed an ultraviolet light in a break room at the plant, apparently hoping to protect workers from coronavirus, Mike Touhill, external communications manager for Novelis, the company that recently bought Aleris, said Tuesday.

But a few workers suffered sunburn-like symptoms and eye problems from exposure to the ultraviolet light, he said.

“All are fine and healthy now and back at work,” Touhill said. “It was a case of one employee going above and beyond what should have been done.”

Touhill said employees were told not to do anything like that again.

CNN reported recently that ultraviolet light has “become fairly standard technology in hospitals, clinics and other places where germs could be in the air. They only work if the air is circulating enough to carry the germs up to the level of the lamps, and then bring this disinfected air back down to where people are breathing.”

The story said, “They (ultraviolet lights) must stay up high because to kill germs, the lamps must emit so much UV light that it would be irritating to people, especially their eyes.”

Donald Milton, a professor of environmental health, told the network that if the light is intense enough to break apart a virus in a short time, it’s going to be dangerous to people.

The Lewisport mill was closed from March 30 to April 13 by the pandemic.

And now its for sale.

Novelis, the world leader in aluminum rolling and recycling, paid $2.6 billion for Aleris.

But the Department of Justice said it can’t keep the Hancock County plant.

Novelis announced last month that the arbitrator assigned to resolve its dispute with the Department of Justice over the purchase had ruled that aluminum and steel are not in the same relevant product market for automotive body sheet under antitrust laws.

And that meant that the company has to find a buyer for Aleris’ Lewisport plant.

It makes aluminum auto body sheet, which competes with steel.

Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301,

Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301

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