CHENNAI: In a bid to make airport terminals safer for passengers, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) is gearing up to install ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) lamps in the air conditioning units at Chennai airport.
The lamps that will be installed inside the air-handling units for the terminals and buildings will ensure the air circulated is free of bacteria and microorganisms.

The UV lamps will tamper with the DNA of microorganisms and kill them and also prevent its growth in air-handling units. Such a system is often used in centralised air conditioning units of large buildings including hospitals but assumes more significance because of the risk of Covid-19 spread in air conditioned environments, said an airport official.
A tender has been floated to procure and install UVGI as it is likely to reduce the risk of spread of infection.
AAI has already started to minimize use of air conditioning in its office buildings but the steel and glass terminal buildings have been built in such a way that air conditioning cannot be avoided. The measure is expected to help passengers and staff. Passengers spend at least two hours while staff spend around eight to 10 hours working and more than 5,000 passengers use the domestic terminal alone daily.
Different airports are following their own techniques to minimize Covid-19 risk. Bengaluru airport had increased the AC temperature.
A Covid-19 guidance document for air conditioning and ventilation released by Indian Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers in April refers to a study that says that UV-C (254nm wavelength) irradiation with an exposure time of 15 minutes at a particular irradiation intensity resulted in complete inactivation of SARSCoV. UV-C is supposed to be the powerful rays that can destroy microorganisms.
This is part of the many safety precautions Chennai airport is taking during Covid-19 situation. An ultra violet baggage scanner was also tried out to disinfect bags. “It was done as a trial and will be installed after rules and guidelines are set by AAI,” said an official.
The Union ministry is also looking at UV lights as a way to disinfect air conditioning in smart cities.

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