Postal Service changes with irradiation

It's a concept that just a few weeks ago would be science fiction. Irradiating our mail to make sure it's not carrying some biological or chemical weapon. But a lot has changed since September 11th, and in the future, this may be a part of routine postal service.

The way you send and recieve mail may never be the same again.  Just like airports have revamped the way they do business, the U.S. Postal Service may be on the verge of a massive overhaul.  Irradiation has been used for years in cleaning food items and plastic products and now with the anthrax scare it could be used to clean the mail.

Auburn University is home to a Cobalt 60 facility used for research.  Turn the lights out and the radiation source glows cobalt blue from 15 feet under water.  That radiation can kill any kind of bacteria according to Fooc Scientist, Dr. Jane Weese. "It's a very simple process, you bring the bags in, you bring the source up you take the bags out and they're clean." No matter how simple it sounds,  it will be very expensive and leaving a letter in your mail box for the postman to pick up, could be a thing of the past. "The decision would have to be made where, how often, how frequently and where would these sources have to be. It's not going to be the panacea to solve all problems but it would solve the spreading of the spores from so many different people that we've seen lately."

For irradiation to work, the entire postal routine will have to be re-organized which could mean the end of home pick-up and other postal services taken for granted before September 11th.