Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Electrons defeat anthrax

11.10.2002


Perhaps, bioterrorists will not be able to spread lethal bacteria of anthrax in envelopes all over the world. Siberian biologists and physics have thought up how to adapt electron accelerator that is usually used for sterilizing medical equipment for decontamination of letters. To optimize the power of the accelerator they calculated how many bacteria could get into a human body when touching the letter infected and how many bacteria should be destroyed to avoid the tragedy.



For their experiment the scientists chose two bacteria species that form almost ineradicable spores. Both species were genetically close to anthrax. One of them is a harmless inhabitant of soils whereas the other causes a disease in insects. Its spores in the mixture with the powdered mineral kaolin can be used as insecticide.

When imitating the probable actions of mail terrorists the scientists made 60 paper packets with the sides of 50 and 25 millimeters and poured a quarter of a gram of sterile kaolin. Then several drops of suspension, which contained 10 million spores per one milliliter, were added into each packet and intensively mixed with kaolin. Then the packets were dried at 70 C and put into envelopes.


The samples were treated with an electron beam from the industrial electron accelerator. The doses applied were varied from 1 to 400 kGy. To find out the effect from a particular dose the powder with the bacteria was dissolved in distilled water and placed in culture medium. It turned out that the dose of 10 kGy killed a lot of spores. The scientists could not find any live microbes after treating the samples with the dose of 20 kGy and the dose of 400 kGy even made the paper destroy. It became fragile.

When you touch the powder about 50 mg of kaolin may remain on your fingers. However, the skin is better protected against penetrating the infection inside in comparison with the lungs. How much kaolin with the spores can a person breathe in? To find it out the researchers tore the envelopes open, placed the powder on a platter and collected the air polluted with a pump with a filter at a height of 30 cm above the platter for a minute. The operation was repeated three times and then the quantity of kaolin on the filter was determined chemically. According to the data obtained a person can breathe in 1 - 2 thousandth of a milligram of the powder. Based on the results and the calculations, the scientists recommend irradiating the correspondence with a dose of about 50 kGy. However, to reduce the probability of infection from one letter to one case per a million the dose of 22 kGy proved to be quite sufficient. The electron accelerator, which is produced at the Budker Institute of Nuclear Physics (Novosibirsk), can be used for this purpose. The accelerator weighs about ten tons and can be placed on the area of about 50 square meters. To protect the staff from radiation the accelerator is isolated with concrete layer of one and a half meter.

Electron accelerator can sterilize relatively thin objects. That is why the letters should be placed in one layer. According to the calculations the rate of sorting will remain within the norm if the number of staff doubles or the process of sorting is automated. The sterilization of parcels seems to be more complicated task. Only dangerous sources of gamma radiation are able to solve it. However, the biologists doubt that terrorists will start using parcels for their subversive activity and believe that electron accelerator can eliminate the problem of mail terrorism sufficiently.

Alexander Barne | alfa

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Correct connections are crucial
26.06.2017 | Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin

nachricht One gene closer to regenerative therapy for muscular disorders
01.06.2017 | Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Touch Displays WAY-AX and WAY-DX by WayCon

27.06.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Drones that drive

27.06.2017 | Information Technology

Ultra-compact phase modulators based on graphene plasmons

27.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>