(CNN) – The New York City public transportation agency announced a pilot program that uses ultraviolet light bulbs to kill covid-19 on buses, trains, and stations.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) reported Tuesday night that it will use “150 two-head mobile devices” from the Denver-based PURO Lighting venture to determine the efficiency and profitability of UVC light technology, according to a press release.
UVC, one of three types of light in the ultraviolet spectrum, has been shown to kill covid-19 and be more potent against viruses and bacteria, PURO Lighting noted. This company indicated that its lamps also feature UVA and UVB light for the full spectrum of disinfection.
The first phase of this measure will begin on the city’s subways and buses, as well as transit facilities, early next week, the MTA said. And if the pilot program is successful, it will be extended to Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad trains in a second phase. The two railroads serve the suburbs of New York City.
The lamps will be used during nighttime closure on subway trains and in periods when traffic is out of service.
“This is the first pilot (program) of its kind in transportation agencies around the world and we are proud to be a part of it,” said MTA Chief Executive Patrick Foye. “For almost three months, the MTA has worked tirelessly to disinfect our entire fleet of subways and buses, but we have always promised that we would explore each and every new approach available to us. The launch of this UVC pilot represents a promising next step in our ongoing efforts to identify technologies that can keep our customers and employees as safe as possible. ”
For the first time in its 115-year history, New York City has shut down its entire subway system overnight since May 6 to clean up its fleet.
A doctor will evaluate the efficiency of the lamps
The MTA touts that UVC light is “an efficient, proven, and effective technology for removing viruses, including SARS-CoV-2 that causes covid-19.” It also indicates that this light has been shown to kill viruses in operating rooms in hospitals, urgent care clinics, universities, and fire stations. The first phase will focus on the rolling stock of vehicles, stations and patio areas, the MTA explained, as well as occupational facilities, crew rooms and other shared areas.
Disinfecting lighting lamps use high intensity lights from across the UV spectrum that can be installed on the ceiling or wall, according to a PURO Lighting press release. MTA images show the units located on poles in the middle of a vehicle. The unit disinfects both surface and airborne pathogens and removes up to 99.9% of viruses and bacteria, according to the company.
The MTA also noted that it asked Dr. David Brenner, director of the Center for Radiological Research at Columbia University, to examine the efficiency of the lamps. This week, Dr. Brenner reported that his test showed that UVC light removed covid-19, and he is working on additional testing for the peer review publication, the agency completed.
The MTA began working with PURO in mid-March to test the capabilities of light technology as part of an effort to find efficient cleaning solutions for the subway. The agency has also been analyzing the use of antimicrobials to disinfect and prevent the virus from growing for longer periods. Foye said in an interview with PIX11 on Friday that antimicrobial research continues, which is “very promising,” and they expect “positive news in the short term.”