English Gallagher Premiership Rugby Union Club, Harlequins, has worked with Powercor to deliver a world first for the sport in its efforts to ensure the safety of players and spectators in the midst of the COVID pandemic.
The club’s famous Stoop stadium in the shadow of English Rugby’s national stadium at Twickenham, has become the first rugby stadium in the world to benefit from the use of
UV-C disinfection lights. It is a move which has the potential to redefine the way in which sports stadia can adapt to a new post COVID environment.
As fans were prohibited from attending Harlequins’ matches at the height of the pandemic the club decided that it would change the use of its famous Honours Bar.
Traditionally the bar is the home of Season Ticket Members – the loyal supporters, that show up in their thousands to support the team at each game.
With no fans allowed into the stadium the club transformed the use of the bar, converting it into the home team dressing room. As such it took the decision to call on the expertise of Powercor and UV-C specialist provider Signify to access market leading UV-C disinfection lighting.
Powercor installed 11 Philips UV-C disinfection upper air units, suspended by brackets 800mm from the ceiling. This high position, in combination with the luminaires’ design, allows it to disinfect air as it circulates through the upper level in the room, even when there are people present underneath. Natural convection of air moves the disinfected air back into the lower part of the room. Additionally, shielding and optics in the luminaire’s design prevent downwards exposure to UV-C radiation. 1
UV-C is a well-established method of disinfection, used to prevent the spread of diseases by disinfecting air, water and surfaces. It has been used widely in hospitals, medical centres and public building for over four decades. UV-C breaks down the DNA or RNA of microorganisms including viruses and bacteria, rendering them harmless. In laboratory testing, Signify’s UV-C light sources reduced SARS-CoV-2 virus infectivity on a surface to below detectable levels in as few as 9 seconds.2
While the technology and its benefits has begun to gather serious interest amongst sporting associations and professional clubs across the globe, Harlequins is the first professional sports club in the United Kingdom to install UV-C lighting, and it is a world first for rugby.
Laurie Dalrymple, Chief Executive Officer, Harlequins. “We are proud to be the first professional sports team in the UK to use UV-C disinfection lighting technology, and we expect to see it widely utilised in future across the sports and events industry.”
Mike Lancaster, Harlequins’ Head of Medical, added, “Signify’s UV-C disinfection lighting adds an additional layer of protection to the stringent testing and operational processes we have in place to protect the squad. From a medical perspective, I am very satisfied with the way the technology has been tested in depth and fully proven.”
The installation of UV-C systems has to be undertaken by qualified contractors and as a preferred partner for Signify, Powercor is delighted to have played a part in what is not only a world first but also a clear demonstration of the benefits of such systems. These systems will deliver tangible benefits not only for elite sporting organisations but a wide range of buildings and facilities in which large numbers of people will gather on regular occasions.
1 Nadia Storm et al, Rapid and complete inactivation of SARS-CoV-2 by ultraviolet-C irradiation, 2020. Report available at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-79600-8 . The UV-C irradiance used in this study was 0.849 mW/cm2.
2 The germicidal effectiveness of UV-C light sources is proportional to the exposure time of the microorganism to the UV-C light source and the intensity of the UV-C light source. Therefore, sufficient air flow in the room (which may be achieved through forced air flow or natural convection) is required for the effective operation of Signify’s UV-C disinfection upper air luminaires.
People and animals should not be directly exposed to UV-C light sources as it can damage their skin and eyes.