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Postal Services may have Mail Treated to Kill Bacteria

Aired October 23, 2001 - 06:55   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: The anthrax attacks have postal service officials considering technology to sanitize the mail by applying the radiation now being used to kill bacteria in food.

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, that's an interesting idea. We've heard about that idea being used...

KAGAN: Yes.

HARRIS: ... before and other methods, so let's get the details on that now from Leonard Vilerial of our affiliate KGTV in San Diego.

LEONARD VILERIAL, KGTV REPORTER (voice-over): Hysteria aside, the truth is no one really knows what evil may lurk inside a bundle of mail. Although the chances of an individual being exposed to anthrax is extremely low, there is concern. Within minutes, however, this mail will become worry free.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This device actually kills bacteria.

VILERIAL: At work is the Titan Corporation electron beam sterilizer. Since 1993, this San Diego company has been producing systems to kill bacteria on food and equipment.

(on camera): Now this particular system is set up to sterilize medical equipment, but all you have to do is punch a couple of programming buttons, toss in the mail and the threat is eliminated.

(voice-over): Inside these units are linear accelerators.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It takes commercial electricity, takes the electrons, accelerates them to high speeds. The electrons come out as a beam, they penetrate the package.

VILERIAL: The sure beam scan, as it's known, is effective in killing bacteria, whether it's anthrax, E. coli, or any other form.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whether it's a package of medical products, whether it's a package of hamburger or whether it's an envelope with anthrax inside it and it kills the bacteria inside.

VILERIAL: Titan's electron beam sterilizers could be built at central mail processing centers. The cost, perhaps a penny per letter, or private companies could have mail treated offsite before it's opened. Smaller scanners could be built to treat mail headed to government offices, and that is more than just an idea.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're having some discussions, yes.

VILERIAL: Bottom line, if anthrax via mail is a concern, a San Diego company says it can neutralize the threat.

With photojournalist Richard Kline, Leonard Vilerial, 10 News.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: Very interesting, very interesting. Folks were protesting against -- a lot of people were against having their food radiated...

KAGAN: But the mail.

HARRIS: ... and treated like that but the mail.

KAGAN: OK.

HARRIS: Might have a point there.

KAGAN: Might not be a bad idea.

HARRIS: All right.

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