Wherever people gather these days, concerns about the spread of COVID-19 are top of mind. And while travel has been severely curtailed, places like Toronto Pearson Airport are doing their best to ensure those who do have to fly do so in a safe environment.
To that end, Pearson recently installed UV-C light arrays in select air handling units at Terminals 1 and 3.
According to Danny Juricic, manager, HVAC & People Moving Devices, this innovative technology, combined with upgraded air filters, adds a new layer of defense against potentially harmful pathogens. Juricic oversees the operations of the HVAC systems and the people moving devices, such as escalators and conveyors, ensuring they run smoothly to provide comfort and passenger flow in the terminals.
“In the new world of COVID-19, my job focuses on finding and implementing new technologies to stop/reduce the spread of the virus and make the air and surfaces safer and cleaner for passengers and employees.
Historically, UV-C light technology has been predominantly used in the healthcare setting given that UV-C light is capable of killing virtually any microbe, including viruses. The UV-C light arrays installed at Pearson system help to keep the air handling unit clean, thereby preventing contamination from being introduced into the air stream in the terminals. Phase one saw the units deployed in areas where the most people congregate, such as baggage claim and security screening areas.
Currently there are seven UV-C air handlers located in each terminal, with all units expected to be installed, commissioned and operational by the end of November. “Our goal was to have everything installed by the beginning of flu season,” explains Juricic.
Juricic says the next phase of the project will see more units in the terminals and rollout to Pearson’s other approximately 30 occupied buildings. He also notes that part of the request for proposal to vendors included having a third-party industrial hygienist verify the efficacy of the UV-C units, testing the air quality prior to and after operations have commenced.
In addition to the UV-C light arrays, Pearson also increased filtration in its HVAC systems in passenger-facing buildings, such as the terminals, and employee-facing buildings. This is in addition to providing more fresh air rather than re-circulating it, says Juricic.
“All filters are now MERV-13 (minimum efficiency reporting value), meaning they can capture more minute particles.”
As for people moving devices, the airport has installed UV lights on specific units in order to help eliminate any virus particles which could potentially live on the handrails. They have also installed CleanSlate UV devices, which safely disinfect personal electronics, and UV-C light units on selected high-touch handrails of people movers and escalators.
“I feel a lot of pride in being part of a team that works to improve the health and safety of the airport,” says Juricic. “As we continue to look to the future, we are striving to adapt and improve in order to keep the passenger experience and employee environment as healthy and safe as possible.”