Police forces in New Jersey are among those adding the power of special, ultraviolet lights to their germ-busting arsenal during the pandemic.

Earlier this month, Linden Police used a $6,000 donation to purchase a portable UV-C generator. The Phillips 66 Bayway Refinery pledged the money toward costs associated with COVID-19 emergency response.

Specially trained officers regularly use the light to sanitize police vehicles and other common areas and to allow for extended use of certain Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), according to Linden Police.

In Camden County, ultraviolet light systems were given at the beginning of May to Camden County Police and Cooper University Health Care along with other public safety agencies.

As described in a county press release, the UV-C lights "emit electromagnetic radiation that breaks apart and kills microbials like the virus that causes COVID-19 and can be used to decontaminate emergency vehicles."

"Although there are no specific studies to date evaluating the UV inactivation of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19), the antimicrobial potential of UVC light has long been established," according to the NJ COVID-19 website.

The state resource noted "conventional UVC light had the potential to cause cancer and cataracts, but that work has been underway to develop "far-UVC light wands or other devices for more widespread use to inactivate microorganisms without posing harm to human skin."

It's a method that's already been in practice at hospitals and medical centers even before the COVID-19 health crisis.

Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton added a UVC disinfection robot to its facility in March 2019. As reported previously by Robotics Business Review, the Tru-D, “Total Room ultraviolet disinfection,” uses an automated, measured dose of UVC light to consistently disinfect an entire room during one cycle.

In 2017, Hunterdon Medical Center put its first Xenex LightStrike Germ-Zapping Robot into place, using ultraviolet light to reduce hospital infections, and a similar device has been used at Overlook Medical Center since 2016.

At the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, as of a year ago, each floor had a movable, six-foot-tall UV light device, as Penn Medicine regional director of Operations and Environmental Services Steve Gaynes called the added layer of protection "a real saver of lives,” according to a University of Pennsylvania article.

As the rapid spread of coronavirus first put stress on the supply of PPE, CBS New York reported hospitals within the Atlantic Health System Network, including Morristown Medical Center, added such ultraviolet light machines to efforts to sterilize and preserve masks.

“This technology allows our police, EMTs and firefighters to safely decontaminate their vehicles on a regular basis, keeping themselves and our residents safe as they perform the critical function of responding to emergencies during this pandemic,” Camden County Freeholder Jonathan Young said.

Young continued “These lamps do not replace routine cleaning or the need for protective equipment, but they give us an additional means of attacking this virus in areas where vulnerable residents might be exposed.”

“Having this resource nearby means that we can have our cruisers and SUVs safe for occupancy in a fraction of the time that it would take otherwise,” Camden County Police Chief Joe Wysocki said in the same release.

Across the Hudson River, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) also is using UV disinfection lighting to sanitize New York City mass transit during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

During a May 20 demonstration, the MTA announced a pilot program with PURO Disinfection Lighting to clean and disinfect subway trains, buses and crew facilities.

The MTA pilot program is scheduled to start this week, with the potential to expand to Metro North and Long Island Railroad, as reported by CBS New York.

According to the company, PURO lighting units already are being used in hospitals and urgent care clinics, hotels, manufacturing facilities, universities, police and fire departments and fitness centers across the country.

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