The Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced on May 19 that they will be launching a pilot program using ultraviolet light lamps to kill COVID-19 on trains and buses at stations.
The agency said that they will use 150 dual-headed mobile devices from PURO Lighting, a Denver-based company, in order to check the cost-effectiveness and the efficiency of the UVC light technology.
UVC to fight COVID-19
One of the three types of light on the UV spectrum is the UVC, and it is proven to kill COVID-19. It is said that UVC is also the most potent against bacteria and viruses. According to PURO Lighting, the lamps that they manufacture have UVA and UVB as well, in order to provide the full spectrum disinfection.
The MTA said that the first phase will launch next week and their target will be subways and buses at transit facilities. If the launch is successful, they will expand the program to Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad trains, and that will be counted as the second phase.
The two railroads serve the suburbs of New York City. The UVC lamps will be used during the shut down on subway trains and while transit is out of service. MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick Foye said that this program is first of its kind and for almost three months, the MTA has worked hard to disinfect the entire fleet of buses and subways but they have always promised that public that they would explore all approaches that are available to ensure public safety.
The launch of the UVC lamps is the next step in their ongoing efforts to keep the public and the employees of the transit station safe. For the first time in 115 years, New York City has shut down the entire subway system to clean all the cars.
The efficiency of UVC lamps will be examined
According to the MTA, the UVC light is efficient and has been proven effective in eliminating viruses, including COVID-19. The UVC lamp has been demonstrated to kill viruses in urgent care clinics, hospital operating rooms, fire stations, and universities. The first phase of the program will focus on the stations, stock of cars, and yard areas. It will also focus on the crew rooms, occupational facilities, and other areas that are shared by the employees.
The UVC lamps use high-intensity, full-spectrum UV lights that can be installed on a wall or the ceiling. According to PURO Lighting, the lamps disinfect both surface and airborne pathogens, and it also eliminates up to 99,9% of bacteria and viruses.
The MTA asked Dr. David Brenner, the director of the Center for Radiological Research at Columbia University, to check the efficiency of the UVC lamps. Dr. Brenner then reported that the UVC light eliminated COVID-19, and he is now working to conduct more testing for publication of his research.
In March, the agency started working with PURO Lighting as they wanted to test light technology to see if they can find an effective and efficient way to clean the New York City subway. Aside from the lamps, the agency is also eyeing antimicrobials to disinfect the stations and to prevent the growth of the virus.