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Boeing Develops Hand-Held Sanitizing UV Wand

By Alicia Arizpe | Tue, 08/25/2020 - 11:41

With this new UV wand, Boeing aims to introduce a reliable sanitization method that does not damage surfaces, to be used in conjunction with other sterilization protocols to protect passengers and crews from exposure to the virus. The company is working with 13 airlines in the development of this technology, which will be manufactured by a third party.

A common concern for recent travelers is being exposed to COVID-19 inside an airplane, which has led many to be reluctant to travel again in the short-term. With most of the world’s fleets grounded, regaining passengers’ confidence to get them to travel again is a priority for the entire aerospace industry. Airlines have ramped up their sanitization protocols to ensures that cabins remain COVID-19-free but current sanitization protocols can be time consuming or damage surfaces due to the constant use of corrosive products, which has led many technology developers to look for faster sterilization methods.

UV light is currently widely used to sterilize equipment at hospitals, laboratories, chemical plants, factories and offices as all bacteria and viruses are susceptible to UV radiation, according to the International Ultraviolet Association. However, not all pathogens are affected equally and SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19 infection, requires higher exposure to UV light than other pathogens so current protocols indicate that a multistep process must be used. Moreover, the UV spectrum is divided in three classes UVA, UVB and UVC. UVA and UVB are the most common, can penetrate the skin and are responsible for sunburns and skin cancers. UVC has the shortest wavelength of the series and has enough energy to damage the genetic material of all cells it comes into contact with. While this makes it a powerful agent against virus and bacteria, it also makes it dangerous to humans. Exposure to UVC radiation can permanently damage the skin and eyes, so the WHO warns that UV light should only be used by trained professionals wearing protective equipment.

Airlines across the globe are ramping up their sanitization efforts and implementing new safety procedures to protect passengers during flight. Mexican airlines have intensified their sterilization protocols between flights and made the use of face masks mandatory during the entire flight. Local airlines also highlight that their aircraft use HEPA certified air filters, which remove 99.9 percent of virus, bacteria and fungi from air.

Alicia Arizpe Alicia Arizpe Senior Writer