New technology allows for sanitizing of potential bio-infected mail

The MailDefender might look like a cross between a safe and a washing machine but it could be the missing piece to protecting the public from lethal bio-agents sent through the mail.

MailDefender, which is intended to kill anthrax, smallpox, ricin, avian flu and a plethora of other dangerous bio-agent,  subjects mail placed in its tumbling drum to a combination of dry heat, short injections of moist heat and doses of ultraviolet irradiation for an 80 minute cycle followed by a 10 minute cool-down period.

The MailDefender cannot be opened once the door is closed and the machine is started and the decontamination cycle is completed. BioDefense says that about three pounds of mail are typically placed into the appliance.

BioDefense Corp., makers of MailDefender, says that the decontamination protocol totally neutralizes bio-agents. The MailDefender could also kill the hemorrhagic viruses Ebola, Dengue, Lassa and Marburg.

MailDefender is the only machine of its type certified by the Underwriters Laboratories, the global product safety certification organization.

The U.S. Department of Justice has already purchased a MailDefender for use by a U.S. Attorney's office in Virginia and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Virginia, the Department of Defense, the Royal Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C., and the United Nations in New York City, which has purchased enough machines to provide executive protection for higher UN officials.

BioDefense is now targeting 9,000 federal buildings that it believes should scrutinize their mail streams. A potential facility for production of the MailDefender is also being planned for northern England as a jumping-off point for its planned penetration of the European market.

Specific prices for MailDefender have not been publicized though media accounts have put the cost at $90,000.