Some High-Touch Areas at JFK Aren’t Being Cleaned, Ultraviolet Light Test Reveals

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As the travel industry struggles to get back on its feet, airports all across the country are trying to make people feel safe with enhanced cleaning protocols. Inside Edition’s Investigative Unit put them to the test on several surfaces at JFK International Airport and found evidence that several high-touch surfaces apparently hadn’t been cleaned for several days.

At JFK, airport officials say they’ve increased the frequency of cleaning throughout the terminals amid the coronavirus pandemic, especially high-touch areas such as seating, handrails and elevators.

Inside Edition producers applied the show’s logo with harmless, invisible ink on several surfaces throughout the airport, including several rows of seats, the doors and handles in the men’s bathroom and even the counter where you check in.

The ink dries invisible and can only be seen with an ultraviolet light. Three days later, when producers returned, the UV light illuminated the ink on several of the surfaces, suggesting that they hadn’t been wiped clean.

The handles on all five bathroom stalls were still covered in invisible ink. We also found the same situation inside an elevator at Terminal 4. After three days, the elevator buttons were still covered in invisible ink.

In the seating area of Gate B29, not a single one of the 13 seats where the invisible Inside Edition logo had been placed had been properly cleaned. A passenger demonstrated how easily the invisible ink disappeared with a quick wipe of one of the seats.

Inside Edition’s producers watched as cleaning crews swept and mopped the floor, vacuumed the carpet and took out the trash, but no one wiped down a single one of the 32 armrests we painted with invisible ink, an obvious high-touch surface.

At the counter where you check-in, all three logos Inside Edition applied with the ink were still visible.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said it insists on the highest safety standards and will undertake a thorough review of cleaning and disinfecting protocols.

The company that operates Terminal 4, JFK International Air Terminal, told Inside Edition they are committed to ensuring the safety of customers and that fluorescent markers aren't always indicators of whether or not a disinfecting cleaning process actually took place on certain surfaces.

But they say they are now implementing a program to verify their enhanced cleaning processes are effective. 

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