postal irradiation

Ron at Ron at
Thu Nov 15 02:57:42 CST 2001

----- Original Message -----
From: "B. J. Tindall" <bti at DSMZ.DE>
Sent: Thursday, November 15, 2001 1:54 AM
Subject: Re: postal irradiation

> The intention to irradiate items in the post is a direct response to
> letters etc. containing anthrax spores being sent through the post and
> being treated as "normal" mail. It may sound rather "silly" but these
> packages are not labelled "contains infectious material" - i.e. there is
> information on the content. There are numerous cases where biological
> material is sent via the post/by carrier and IS labelled "biological
> material" - the carrier and recipients are warned. The danger is not so
> much from properly labelled packages, but from letters/packages which are
> NOT labelled. If a package is clearly labelled "biological material" (DNA
> sample, or museum specimen) then any suspicious package can be examined
> the appropriate authorities without it being irradiated.
> Of course to get such a system to work then scientists sending material
> which should not be irradiated must stick to the rules and properly label
> letters/packages containing biological material. In the case of most of
> carriers (FedEx, UPS etc.) the packages are picked up and the person
> sending the package can also be easily identified. Or am I being too
> optimistic?
> Unfortunately undeveloped films looks like a rather different problem
> because almost anyone can send a film in the post.
> Brian

In following this thread my though is simply this.  I bet that in today's
climate most US postal workers would not care what the labels said --
shoot first (irradiate the heck out of everything) and ask questions later
would be the dominate mindset.  I don't think the average postal worker
really cares much about DNA samples.   After all, some of those folks see
"Handle with Care" as saying "kick me across the room."  Brian, I guess I'm
too pessimistic.

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