Note: The Ads that appear
on this page are under the
control of Google Ads,
which is a non-partisan site.
Steam Iron on Suspicious Letters Could Kill Anthrax-Truth!
But Not Recommended!
Summary of eRumor:
A way to kill anthrax that
comes in the mail: iron it with a steam iron. This email
says bioterrorism expert Ken Alibek made that recommendation during
a congressional hearing. He said that hot, moist steam ironed
through a moist layer of fabric could kill anthrax spores.
The Truth: Dr. Ken Alibek is acknowledged as one of the world's foremost
experts on not only bioterrorism, but on anthrax. He was the head of the Soviet Union's offensive biological weapons program
before defecting to the United States and is now a private
consultant on biological weapons defense. According to Reuters
News Service, he was participating in a briefing for members of
Congress during the third week in October when he said that hot,
moist heat could kill anthrax spores. "If you are scared,
just iron this letter," he told lawmakers. "After that, they
In an AP article from October 19, Arthur Trapotsis, a scientist from
Boston, said "Anthrax is easy to kill." His company
makes steam sterilizers, one of the options that companies are
considering to try to eliminate anthrax that could come through the
While there is agreement that steam can kill anthrax spores, there
is not agreement about relying on a steam iron to do it.
The 10/19 AP story says that other experts estimate that in order
for the ironing of an envelope to be effective, it would have to be
done continuously for 20 minutes. Dr. John Clements of Tulane
University in New Orleans told ABC News "Steam irons are not
going to get you where you need to be." There is also
concern over the fact that there are different kinds of envelopes
made from different substances. Would all of them allow the
steam to affect their contents?
A real example of the story as it has
Easy Way YOU Can Kill Anthrax in Mail
Worried about anthrax-laced mail at your home or office?
YOU can kill the germs. And, amazingly, it's easy, cheap, and
quick and you probably own the weapon of choice: A steam
Reuters reports that Ken Alibek, a top former Soviet germ
warfare scientist who is now a U.S.-based author and researcher
trying to develop defenses against bioterrorism, told a surprised
congressional briefing on nonproliferation that a hot, moist steam iron
and moist fabric could kill anthrax spores.
The lawmakers didn't believe him. What? An iron? Say that again,
please. So he did. Several times. "Iron your letters,"
he said. Put a moist layer of fabric over the letter and iron
He recommended that postal distribution centers that are working with
large amounts of mail set up portable gamma radiation units to
sterilize letters. "This problem could be solved," he
Anthrax: Separating fear from fact. Don't microwave
your mail. Turns out the dry heat of a microwave doesn't
kill the anthrax spores as well as the moist heat of a steam
Do remember this: The chance that YOU will receive a piece of mail
that is anthrax-contaminated is miniscule. And if you do receive
something that is suspect, don't handle it. Put it in a plastic
bag, leave the room, wash your hands, and call
--Cathryn Conroy Visit the Science/Math Forum to find
out how anthrax works, how it can be stopped, and to post your
2 For 1
Special! SUBSCRIBE to
Our Email Alerts, Advisories, and Virus Warnings!CLICK HERE