Scientists say new device cleans virus, bacteria and other pathogens from the air

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | FEBRUARY 27, 2013

A team of U.S. researchers has created a device that uses X-rays to clean the air of viruses, bacteria and other particles that are toxic or hazardous to human health.

The scientists, who presented this novelty in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology, argue that their invention called ESP SXC, can improve the quality of life for patients with respiratory diseases and allergies and that it increases safety in the operating room. They also say the device would be useful even in the case of a bio-terror attack.

Electrostatic precipitators (ESPs) work to eliminate these harmful agents through a process of ionization. However, experts admit that its validity is reduced when the elements to catch are ultra small.

The so-called HEPA filters (High Efficiency Particulate Air) are also used to clean the air, but they do not clean a room’s air if they are not cleaned regularly. To overcome these drawbacks, Eric M. Kettleson, Jill M. Schriewer, R. Mark L. Buller and Biswas Pratim have added a soft X-ray system to an ESP emitter, with which they are able to protect their lab tests while conducting immunodeficient experiments on mice which are subjected to a wide range of pathogens.

The next step, say these teachers from the universities of Washington, Cincinnati and St. Louis, would lead to having ESP SXC in houses and public buildings at a low costs. Setting up the ESPs is not complicated at all say the creators.

In tests conducted by the scientists who invented the ESP SXC, the air cleaners are shown to be up to nine times more efficient than current devices. The technology is known as Soft X-ray Enhanced Electrostatic Precipitation, which is believed to protect against inhalable Allergens, ultrafine particles, and microbial infections.

“Protection of the human lung from infectious agents, allergens, and ultrafine particles is difficult with current technologies. HEPA filters remove airborne particles >0.3 μm with 99.97% efficiency, but are expensive to maintain. Electrostatic precipitation has been used as an inexpensive approach to remove large particles from airflows, but has a collection efficiency minimum in the sub-micrometer size range allowing for a penetration window for some allergens and ultrafine particles,” says the document published by the scientists.

In laboratory tests, X-ray enhanced electrostatic precipitation targets infectious agents such as B. anthracis, M. bovis-BCG, and poxviruses, among others. The use of soft X-ray electrostatic currents are introduced at low-intensity levels, which results in a two-fold to nine-fold increase in capture efficiency, say the creators of the ESP SXC. The device is able to capture particles that measure between 200 and 600nm. At high intensities, the air cleaner captures nearly all viral and bacterial respiratory pathogens that were test subjects in the laboratory assessment.

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The fight was worth it: TSA to get rid of naked body scanners

AP | JANUARY 18, 2012

The Transportation Security Administration confirms that it is getting rid of airport body scanners that produce a naked image of travelers.

Right now the TSA uses two types of scanners. One makes a generic image showing where agents should look for an object on the traveler’s body. Those scanners are staying.

The other kind of scanner uses X-rays. They raised privacy concerns because they show metal objects on the traveler’s body – along with every other detail, too. Congress has mandated that those scanners be changed or removed by June.

TSA says the X-ray scanners will be gone by June. It says the company that makes them, Rapiscan, was not able to come up with a software fix to make the scanners comply with the Congressional mandate.

 

World Health Organization: Cell Phones cause Cancer

While some media have tried to reduce the scope of the latest confirmation, the results of the studies on the frequent and prolonged use of cell phones is very clear.

By Luis R. Miranda
The Real Agenda
June 1, 2011

The radiation emitted by cell phones causes cancer. Many studies have shown it and today it was time to the first global organization, the WHO, to accept that fact. The World Health Organization now includes radiation emitted by cell phones as a “cancer risk” and places it next to lead, combustion gases and chloroform due to the level of risk.

Prior to the announcement made today, the WHO had assured users, without giving the proper analysis to previous studies, that there were no risks associated with the use of mobile phones. But this time, the most recent study presented evidence so clear and undeniable, that the organization had to issue a statement accepting that the continuous radiation of mobile phones has everything to do with the development of brain cancers.

The latest analysis included 31 scientists from 14 countries including the United States, which decided to participate after scientists reviewed the results of previous studies and realized the magnitude of the problem. “The team found sufficient evidence to classify the personal exposure as” possibly carcinogenic to humans. ”

What this means is that at this point there have not been conducted enough long term studies done to reach a clear conclusion about the safety of cell phone radiation, but there is enough data to show a possible connection which users should be alerted about.

“The biggest problem we have is we know that most environmental factors require several decades of study before we can see the consequences,” said Dr. Keith Black, chairman of neurology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

According to the study, the radiation emitted by cell phones is called non-ionizing. This means that radiation has an effect like a low-power microwave and not as an X-ray, which exposes people to high concentrations of radiation for a short period of time.

“What phone radiation does in the simplest terms is similar to what happens to food in the microwave; essentially it cooks the brain. Thus, besides leading to development of cancer and tumors, it could create a whole bunch of other negative effects on the cognitive function of memory, because the temporal lobes are exactly where we put the cell phones.”

After the findings in recent studies, calls for caution on the use of cellular phones aren’t scarce, just as it has happened other times, but not many people have given the required attention and continue to use cell phones.

The study about the consequences of cell phone use has produced results that are similar to those that show the malignity of tobacco, for example. In addition to the latest analysis, the European Environment Agency made and continues to perform studies that show that the risk posed by the use of cell phones could be as great as that of smoking. In both cases the health of the user and those who are around is directly and negatively affected. These studies also compared the effects of radiation exposure to other elements such as asbestos and leaded gasoline. In the United States, the director of a cancer research institute at the University of Pittsburgh, expressed concern and urged employees to limit cell phone use.
“When we look at the development of cancer – particularly brain cancer – it is known that it takes much time to develop. I think it’s a good idea to give the audience a kind of warning that prolonged exposure to cell phone radiation could cause cancer, “said Dr. Henry Lai, a research and professor in bioengineering at the University of Washington. Dr. Lai has studied radiation for over 30 years.

The results of the largest international study on cell phone use and its relation to cancer development was initiated in 2010. The main result of the study showed that when participants used a cell phone for 10 years or more, they have double the chance to get cerebral glioma, which is a type of tumor. Despite this result, neither health authorities nor the universities have conducted studies to determine the effects of cellphone use in children, which is the population group with the largest increase in the use of cell phones. In theory, children’s brains would be even more affected by cellphone radiation due to the fact their skulls are not fully developed, which could contribute to a greater cerebral tissue exposure to radiation.

“The skulls of children and the scalp are thinner. So the radiation can penetrate deeper into the brain of children and young adults. Their cells divide more rapidly, so the impact of radiation can be much higher. ” read a statement issues by Black Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Although some cell phone manufacturers have warned consumers about the consequences of excessive use of phones and how they should be away from the body when not in use, the reality is that technological progress in our society makes it almost impossible to stop using cell phones or keep them away from the body. More and more companies create applications and programs and people become more and more dependent on the cellular phones and wireless networks, so the trend is that people continue to use mobile phones. Therefore, the warnings of manufacturers of mobile homes on the risk that they pose are as laughable as those of cigarette manufacturers about how smoking is hazardous to health. Both industries know about the harm, but still continue to produce cigarettes and mobiles.

With the number of mobile subscriptions reaching five billion worldwide, it is not difficult to visualize the cancer pandemic that humanity will face in a few years.

The Homeland Security Business

Note: Just as it happens with military conflict, the continuous imaginary scare of terrorism also bolsters the homeland security business with companies earning government contracts to provide security technology for monitoring infrastructure and citizens, even within their own houses.

By Constance Gustke
CNBC.com
May 30, 2011
A decade after the 9/11 terror attacks, homeland security is still a growth business.The niche—that includes James Bond-like tools such as infrared cameras, explosive detectors and body scanners—is expected to grow 12 percent annually through 2013, according to Morgan Keegan.“Homeland security is reactive,” says Tim Quillen, a senior equity analyst at investment banking firm Stephens Inc. “The stocks are hedges against bad things happening.”

One example: the underwear bomber, who was thwarted in late 2009. After that a bell weather homeland security stock OSI Systems [OSIS  39.11    0.04  (+0.1%)   ] rocketed 30 percent within a month. “The stock went on a tear,” says Brian Ruttenbur, a research analyst at Morgan Keegan. Why? OSI makes X-ray and metal detectors used to scan people, baggage and cargo that it sells worldwide. During the past 12 months ending yesterday, the stock has popped from $25 to $40, driven by border and port growth.

Much has changed, since the government spent over $20 billion beefing up airport baggage screening nationwide with X-ray devices.

Airline security is a small business: about $1 billion. There’s 2,100 airport security lanes in the U.S., and 90 percent use X-ray scanners.

“The scanners are ten plus years old now,” says Ruttenbur and “going through an upgrade cycle.” Recently, the government has ordered another 500 scanners though.

Screening cargo going on aircraft and boats at ports is also spiking. Now, only a small percentage of all cargo is scanned. Security screening will grow ten percent to 15 percent annually in coming years, says Ruttenbur in a recent report. This driver will help OSI Systems pump out strong security earnings.

Tiny Niche, Big Clout

There aren’t any pure plays within homeland security though—neither stocks or ETFs. Some players like OSI Systems sell their screening devices to healthcare companies too, so their homeland security earnings are diluted.

“You have to spread the net wide and separate reality from hype,” says Quillen

Both OSI Systems and Flir Systems [FLIR  35.52    0.28  (+0.79%)   ] are undervalued right now, says Quillen.

Flir Systems is a well-managed market leader in infrared cameras used to protect critical buildings, he says. This fast-growing market is slated to expand 20 percent annually, though only half of Flir Systems’ revenue come from government business. The  stock rose from $29 to $36 in the past year. And Quillen has a 12-month price target of $43 on it.

OSI Systems is another favorite. In the first quarter of the year, OSI’s security group revenues grew 27 percent over last year’s.

“The stock is a long-term play,” says Jonathan Richton, an analyst at Imperial Capital, citing OSI’s developing cargo scanning business. Analysts peg five-year earnings growth at 20 percent. Another plus driving earnings: OSI Systems is aggressively tightening operating margins.

A third player, American Science and Engineering [ASEI  86.07    -0.11  (-0.13%)   ] makes cargo and parcel search systems. But the stock is expensive right now, say analysts, since the company missed first-quarter revenue targets.

In the past year, the stock has risen from $77 to $88. Ruttenbur expects only 4-percent earnings growth this year but 10 percent to 15 percent in the next few years, as orders pick up. His 12-month price target: $94.

For investors casting a wide net, L-3 Communications [LLL  81.60    0.30  (+0.37%)   ] is a homeland security monolith. It’s also the sixth largest U.S. defense contractor.

The company makes surveillance equipment for airports and checkpoint scanners. “They’re playing a meaningful role,” says Quillen, “but security revenue is only about 5 percent.”

Its stock price has been flat over the last year.

These days, homeland security niche players are a safe bet though — even after the recent death of 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden.