The light at the end of the tunnel is, after all, bluish in color and can be an important weapon in combating the spread of the new coronavirus. The New York City subway, along with other public transport in the North American metropolis, will launch this week a pilot project to disinfect carriages and stations with ultra-violet light – an innovative technology similar to the one already used to disinfect buses and trains in China and which will now also be experienced in public transport in New York, under a partnership with a Denver (Colorado) company, Puro Lightning.
150 devices that emit UV rays will be installed in this first phase of the project, with the aim of eliminating viruses (including the new coronavirus) from surfaces that are touched by transport users. These are lamps similar to those used in solariums and tanning beds that eliminate microorganisms, or any other form of life, that they find in their area of action. A slightly different frequency is used, a method already widely used in operating rooms in hospitals, for example.
"Ultraviolet light is a type of electromagnetic radiation that lies between visible light and X-rays," Laura Alabart, deputy director of Vesismin Health, a disinfectant product development company, explained in April to El Mundo. This light is then divided into three groups: type A, used in solariums and artificial tanning; type B, used for some psoriasis treatments and which can already cause burns and damage tissues and DNA; and type C, the most toxic and the one being used against Covid-19.
In New York, experts say they are optimistic that this type of disinfection will make a big difference. "The UV light that is going to be used in the metro and for disinfecting buses is very effective in eliminating the virus that causes Covid-19," said David Brenner, an expert at Columbia University, cited by CBS. “What we are doing here is to reduce the proliferation of viruses on metro trains, reducing the risk that someone will be contaminated on this public transport”, which has suffered a sharp drop in demand due to people's fear of contracting the virus during a trip .
The collaboration of the organization that manages the transport (MTA) and Puro Lightning started as early as March and the head of the MTA's innovation area, Mark Dowd, commented that “this crisis creates opportunities to use new technologies to help solve a challenge such as this, which is a challenge that occurs once in each generation ”. It is with this type of “fast and safe” innovation that public bodies have to respond, he defended.
The effectiveness of the program and technology will be tested in the coming weeks to determine whether more devices will be installed in more locations on the New York urban transport network.
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