ACM uses UV light to fight COVID-19

Paul Blank stands with Allegany College Maryland’s UV light sanitizer cart.

CUMBERLAND — In preparation for students to return to campus Monday, Allegany College of Maryland is using ultraviolet light to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

A UV sanitation cart is being used for high-touch areas, including the college’s many computer labs, dental and health clinics.

Purchase of the $9,750 device was made available through federal CARES Act funding.  

The 65-pound device is equipped with four, 48-inch UVC fluorescent lamps and 57.2 watts of UV output. 

“As part of the college’s new deep cleaning and disinfection procedures, the night shift custodial crew is using a Larson UV light that disinfects over 99% of viruses,” Paul Blank, ACM’s third-shift custodial supervisor, said via email. “The portable cart floods a large room with UV light rays and sanitizes with little to no need for additional chemical disinfectants.”

The cutting-edge device is commonly used in hospitals and laboratory settings, he said.

Staffers “have participated in online training and are finding the tool very easy to use,” Blank said. 

“While it can be used anywhere, it will be used heavily at the college in clinical settings, our dental clinic, computer labs, nursing labs and other high-touch environments,” he said. “We plan to use this sanitization cart nightly across all campus buildings along with our other deep-cleaning medical-grade cleaning supplies to provide a safe learning and working environment for our community.”

The device’s lights emit a flood beam pattern able to clean up to 1,750 square feet with 360 degrees of coverage. 

Adam Phipps, ACM’s director of physical plant, said the college is also working to install similar cleaning lights in computer lab ceilings when the rooms are not in use.

“We’re going to make them automated,” he said. “They will not come on when there’s motion detected.”

The ceiling light project is expected to cost upward of $25,000, he said.

The price for ACM’s cleaning equipment, medical-grade cleaning supplies and personal protective items is roughly $60,000.

ACM is practicing science-based and common-sense measures, and relying heavily on guidance recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Allegany County Health Department, college officials said in a press release.  

“In compliance with a statewide order, all students, campus visitors and employees must wear face masks or face coverings inside ACM buildings as well as outdoors when physical distancing is not possible,” the release states. “In addition to providing students and employees with reusable cloth face masks, the college is promoting the proper hand hygiene and social distancing measures. Visitors, students and employees are required to sign in when visiting an office or department, and attending class or a lab.”

Hand sanitizer will be available in all ACM buildings. 

“While ACM campuses and education sites undergo intensive cleaning and sanitation daily, disinfectant wipes are also provided to individual students as they enter their classroom so that they may wipe down their desk or table surfaces between cleanings,” the release states. 

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