Senior America's Information Magazine



Anthrax And Your Mail 
by: Dan Fogel

Let's face it, since September 11th, we all view the world with a little more skepticism and quite a bit more caution.

Throw in the anthrax mail scare that started in October and we all find ourselves getting a little squeamish.  

It is time however, to face reality and that reality is that you have a better chance of winning the California lottery twice... back-to-back... than you do of getting anthrax from your mail.

Sure, it's frightening!  In many ways though, the mail is far more secure than it was before the anthrax scare.  Why?  Because officials are looking for it now and are putting procedures into place that will help detect biological contaminants that were previously undetectable. 

That fact alone though is not enough reason to throw caution to the wind.  There are no reasons to not take reasonable precautions to protect yourself, regardless of your age.

Reasonable precautions
Anthrax aside, taking a few precautions when handling mail is a good thing.  Though there is very little likelihood that another contaminant could remain viable through the mail, your mail does come into contact with quite a bit of other mail that comes into contact with even more mail.  By the time your mail gets to you, it could have come into contact with substances to which your body could be particularly sensitive.

This relatively insignificant contact has not been the topic of any intensive study, but a few procedures can be taken to minimize any potential risk.

When handling mail, keep the mail away from your face.  Your face contains more direct openings into your body than the rest of your body put together.  Opening the mail away from your face... it only makes sense.

If it's junk mail and you know it, toss it!  Who needs to open it.

When opening the mail, put the envelopes directly in the trash rather than mix them with the contents.  Chances are that only one or two people at most have handled the contents.  Who knows how many people have handled the envelope.  Get rid of the envelopes promptly and you immediately dispose of potential external contaminants.

After you have completely opened your mail, wash your hands.  Few people wash their hands as often as they should anyway.  If you take just one more opportunity to do so, you help to eliminate anything that you may have come into contact with... and washing them one more time in the day might just prevent a head-cold.   





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