Example: [Collected on the Internet, 2001]
I recently heard that ironing letters will destroy the Anthrax virus. Someone else said microwaving letters would too. They said it was some germ-warfare specialist that said it. Is this true?
Origins: On 16 October 2001, Ken Alibek, a former Soviet germ warfare scientist, told a congressional briefing on nonproliferation that people worried about opening their mail could use a hot steam iron and moist fabric to kill anthrax spores.
"If you are scared, just iron this letter," he said. "After that, they (anthrax spores) become harmless." He said microwaves are somewhat less effective than steam ironing because they don't emit moist heat.
In an October 16 interview with CNN, Alibek was less definite in his recommendation of ironing as the answer to anthrax-laden mail:
Controversy exists over the pronouncement that heat kills anthrax. According to Jeanne Guillemin, a medical anthropologist and a Professor of Sociology and Senior Fellow at MIT's Security Studies Program who was part of a team that investigated a suspicious anthrax epidemic that took place in 1979 in the former USSR, it's sunlight, not heat, that does in the bacterium:
Ironing your mail is the "sure-fire and deadly potato bug killer" of the day — it holds out the promise of a cheap, readily-available counter to the risk of contagion to anyone who can wield a steam iron. However, like its 1930s counterpart, the longed-for easy solution does not turn out to be all it is touted to be.
Barbara "pressed for answers" Mikkelson
Last updated: 8 March 2008
Gilbertson, Janine. "Southeast HazMat Team Ready, Leader Says." The [Manchester NH] Union Leader. 12 October 2001 (p. A9). Robinson, Melissa. "Germ Warfare Expert Tells Americans to Iron the Mail." The Associated Press. 16 October 2001. CNN. "Ken Alibek: Preparing for the Range of Bioterrorism Possibilities." 16 October 2001. CNN. "Jeanne Guillemin: Anthrax Risk and Prevention." 15 October 2001.