Disinfection Tunnel: Solution for Safe Events
Public Safety: Key Considerations
When it comes to preventing a respiratory disease like COVID-19, public gatherings and events are the main culprits, with cancellation being the most obvious solution. However, such events often serve an important social function, and some are difficult to discard due to cultural reasons.
For such scenarios, some organizations are turning to a novel solution – a decontamination tunnel for COVID-19. In addition to serving as a reliable sanitation measure, this technology can help with promoting responsible behaviors and assist in health monitoring of attendants, creating multi-layered protection against the virus.
Public Safety: Key Considerations
Maintaining safety during public events is a multifaceted problem that entails much more than disinfection. In its recommendations on the safety of events and gatherings, the CDC highlights three aspects of the challenge:
● Promoting healthy behaviors
● Maintaining healthy environments
● Maintaining healthy operations
Each aspect lists several practices, such as hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, cleaning and disinfection, modification of physical layouts, presence of signs and warning messages, and adequate supplies of sanitation products. While sanitizer tunnel equipment is clearly suited for one of these tasks, it can actually assist in addressing several other concerns on the list, both through monitoring audience traffic and encouraging safe and responsible behaviors.
Sanitizer Tunnel Working Principle
The main purpose of a sanitizer tunnel for COVID-19 is to eradicate the virus on the surfaces of objects. It is done by covering the object with a thin layer of a disinfectant. The solution is atomized into a fine mist, much like in a conventional sanitizer but far smaller. The tiny size of the particles ensures even dispersion and low sedimentation speed and leaves no moisture or residue.
In addition to nozzles, the decontamination tunnel can also be equipped with supplementary measures like a sanitizer dispenser for hand washing, a UV lamp, or an ozone generator. The combination of solutions and their intensity varies depending on the area of application, although most are designed for use in public spaces and need to be harmless for people.
From the user standpoint, a typical sanitizer tunnel for COVID-19 experience will look like this:
- Approach the unit and wash hands using the contactless dispenser
- Pass the mask detection check by facing the screen
- Take temperature measurement
- Enter the passageway and allow the fog to disperse
- Wait for the fog to settle on surfaces and decontaminate clothing and skin
- Proceed to the exit
Depending on the number of nozzles and the size of the unit, the total time of the procedure may vary, although models designed for high audience traffic can make it as fast as 10 seconds per person. The process is also fully automated and should not require any human intervention aside from the occasional refill of the disinfectant.
While the decontamination tunnel can reliably eradicate all microorganisms on surfaces and skin, it does not entirely sanitize the person infected by the virus. COVID-19 is a respiratory disease and will spread through breathing even after thorough outer disinfection. To mitigate this threat, the tunnel will also monitor for other symptoms like fever and will alert the user when the safe threshold is reached. The same applies to people not wearing masks, who will either receive a warning or be denied access entirely (if the unit supports this feature).
While the former is an extension of a familiar health check routine, the latter can actually contribute to the respiratory etiquette. Strategically placed reminders can nudge the behavior in the right direction and promote safe behavior, which is crucial for a long-term public health plan.
Another valuable feature of the decontamination tunnel is its ability to collect data during operation. For instance, the unit can record the number of attendants, which is useful for tracking the audience traffic and reporting on the size of the event. Some models can also record the number of alerts triggered by temperature readings, which is indispensable for monitoring the health of the population. This data can be of value not only for event organizers but also for health authorities, contributing to the overarching effort of curbing the outbreak.
Decontamination Tunnel: Human and Objects Disinfection
While a decontamination tunnel for COVID is usually associated with personal disinfection, it is also suitable for sanitizing inanimate objects. The latter is not readily associated with the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 but is equally important for the organization of events and gatherings. To begin with, attendants will likely carry some personal belongings, which may become a vector for the spread of the virus.
The same applies to clothing: while the virus does not survive for long on fabric, metal and plastic surfaces of buttons and other touchpoints may pose some risk for up to several days. These objects are also impractical to clean in other ways, making sanitation tunnels a good choice for crowded settings with active traffic.
Determining Whether Disinfection Tunnel is Safe or Not
The idea of being sprayed with a hazardous chemical is understandably alarming for people undergoing the disinfection. Fortunately, solutions used in a sanitizer tunnel for human use usually have no effect on anything more complex than a virus. Nowadays, the most popular option is hypochlorous acid.
This compound, sold under the EnviroNize Anolyte brand, is chemically selective, meaning it can only affect simple microorganisms like bacteria and viruses. For this reason, it is considered an environmentally conscious solution and is used for water treatment and food industry. In other words, the disinfection tunnel can be considered safe as long as it uses a trustworthy solution.
Disinfection, on its own, does not make public events safe. In fact, it is just one of the many operational, behavioral, and organizational measures required for stopping the spread of the virus. In this light, multi-layered solutions like decontamination tunnels can become an integral part of a larger effort to contain the disease through monitoring, sanitation, and promotion of respiratory etiquette.
Sophie Zoria is a passioned journalist writing about tech and marketing trends, mobile apps, and design. Check out her Medium page: https://medium.com/@sophie_65309