In a move being touted as the first of its kind, Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) officials said Tuesday that ultraviolet light lamps will be used to disinfect subway cars and buses in New York City starting early next week, CNN reports.
The MTA purchased 150 UV lamps from a Denver-based startup company called PURO Lighting as part of the first phase of the experimental program to kill COVID-19 from its various modes of transportation. The project will cost about $1 million, but could prove to be a much more cost-effective way of frequently cleaning trains and buses, if effective.
Earlier this month, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the entire New York City subway system would be shut down every morning from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. in an effort to conduct a thorough cleaning of the cars, stations, and facilities. MTA chairman and CEO Patrick Foye claimed that this process of deploying hundreds of workers to disinfect everything by hand every day was costing "hundreds of millions of dollars."
These lamps present a simpler alternative since it can be mounted on the poles in the middle of a train car where the device will emit high-intensity UVC light, in addition to UVA and UVB to provide a "full spectrum disinfection." PURO Lighting states on its site that their UV lights "will have efficacy against Class 2 and 3 viruses, including coronaviruses, SARS, Influenza and Ebola."
David Brenner, director of the Center for Radiological Research at Columbia University, said that scientists have conducted experiments where samples of SARS CoV-2 are exposed to UV light, and found the results to be very encouraging. However, further testing will need to be done to confirm these findings. Brenner, who is advising the MTA on this experimental program, maintains that "it's been known for more than 100 years, in fact, that UV light is incredibly efficient at killing both viruses and bacteria." It is believed by some that UV light can effectively kill the coronavirus on surfaces.
The outcome of this program will determine if the Long Island Railroad and Metro-North will follow suit.