New Academic Research Shines Light on UVC Disinfection of Airport Security Bins
Airport security bins have been harboring a dirty secret for quite some time. Back in August 2018, Finnish and British researchers found that the bins at Helsinki airport were ‘germier than the toilets,’ commonly carrying viruses that cause respiratory infections¹. Nearly two years later with COVID-19 gripping the world, U.S. researchers are now looking at methods to tackle the issue of contaminated bins by quickly irradiating them with germicidal ultraviolet irradiation. And the good news is … it works!
A new study published in Pathogens and Immunity Journal in May 2020 shows that UV-C light administered for 30 seconds successfully achieved a ≥3-log reduction of pathogens on plastic bins similar to those used at airport security check-points². In Evaluation of Ultraviolet-C Light for Rapid Decontamination of Airport Security Bins in the Era of SARS-CoV-2, the authors conclude that ultraviolet germicidal irradiation is an attractive method of disinfection for high-touch bins and, potentially, other surfaces such as airport check-in touch screens.
The team of researchers at Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine inoculated plastic bins with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and bacteriophages MS2, PhiX174, and Phi6, an enveloped RNA virus used as a surrogate for coronaviruses.
A 30-second cycle of UV-C irradiation applied at close range was found to successfully disinfect the high-touch areas of the bins where the inoculum was placed: on the horizontal rim, the vertical side wall and the bottom horizontal surface. The study suggests that UV-C could be an effective method to rapidly decontaminate security bins which are not easily cleaned between uses.
The study also included the use of UVC Dosimeters manufactured by Intellego Technologies, Sweden. The color-changing indicators provided additional validation of an accumulated dose of UV-C on the surface of the bins, that can be correlated with fluence sufficient to inactivate MRSA and Clostridioides difficile (C. diff) spores.
As UV-C disinfection of airport security bins and other high-touch surfaces is increasingly implemented to help prevent the spread of highly pathogenic respiratory viruses such as SARS-CoV-2, it is advisable to utililze colorimetric UVC Dosimeters as a quality assurance measure. UVC Dosimeters are an important component of effective UV-C disinfection and can provide airport staff with immediate, visible validation of the disinfection process and reassure travellers that enhanced infection prevention measures are being utilitized for their safety.
¹ Ikonen, N., Savolainen-Kopra, C., Enstone, J.E. et al. Deposition of respiratory virus pathogens on frequently touched surfaces at airports. BMC Infect Dis 18, 437 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12879-018-3150-5
² Cadnum J, Li DF, Jones LD, Redmond SN, Pearlmutter B, Wilson B, Donskey CJ. Evaluation of
Ultraviolet-C Light for Rapid Decontamination of Airport Security Bins in the Era of SARSCoV-
2. Pathogens and Immunity. 2020;5(1):133-42. PubMed PMID. doi: 10.20411/pai.v5i1.373