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Subject: Irradiation of our mailDate: Tue, 30 Oct 2001 20:53:43 -0800
All of us need to be more concerned about our mail being zapped than anthrax. This technology will virtually kill the therapeutic value of any herbs and supplements sent through the mail.....
Will Irradiating Your Mail Work to Kill Anthrax?
The US Postal Service has a plan to treat mail with "e-beam" technology. The process involves the use of an electronic beam, a nonradioactive but highly accelerated stream of electrons sprayed from an "electron gun" to cleanse loads of mail of dangerous substances, including anthrax.
SureBeam Corporation, the main supplier of this technology, has publicly stated that its irradiation technology is capable of killing the anthrax bacteria.
SureBeam spokesperson Wil Williams told CBS MarketWatch on Oct. 10: "Anthrax is nothing more than a bacteria, and SureBeam will kill it. If Anthrax was being dispatched through the U.S. mail, for example, we can zap it - - it's well within the capability of the technology."
Williams' quote was repeated in the San Diego Union-Tribune the next day.
SureBeam repeated the claim to KGTV Channel 10 in San Diego, adding that the company's irradiation equipment could be built into central mail processing centers, and that smaller systems could be placed in government or business offices.
SureBeam has made these claims without any supporting scientific evidence that the company's "electron-beam" irradiation equipment is capable of killing the anthrax bacteria or its spores.
In fact, radiation is ineffective against anthrax spores, called "endospores," which are surrounded by numerous thick layers of material including protein and calcium. According to Medical Microbiology, edited by Samuel Baron, M.D., Professor and Chairman of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston:
"The spores are resistant to heat, cold, radiation, desiccation and disinfectants."
Additionally, according to the Official Anthrax Information Web Site maintained by the US Department of Defense: "Anthrax spores can remain dormant for decades."
Anthrax is so resistant to radiation that when designing an anti-ballistic missile system, the Clinton administration reportedly decided against using nuclear weapons specifically because they would be unable to defend against an incoming missile carrying even a few hundred pounds of anthrax spores.
Given the level of fear that has gripped the nation, unsubstantiated claims about a technology's ability to kill anthrax are irresponsible and dangerous. Claims of this magnitude should be supported by peer-reviewed scientific research.
It should be noted that SureBeam consistently advertises its linear accelerator irradiation process as "electronic pasteurization," despite the fact that the US Department of Agriculture has called such characterizations "misleading."
The Federal Trade Commission is currently conducting an inquiry into SureBeam's advertising practices.
Additionally, SureBeam has hinted that its irradiation process can kill the prion that causes Mad Cow Disease, when in fact, the prion -- like anthrax spores -- is resistant to radiation.
Public Citizen October 18, 2001 Washington Post October 25, 2001 Page A01