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Re: [AV Media Matters] New Test Results
Ed is correct in that the history of e-beam energy and dose is unclear.
I would like to add that at least two different degradation mechanisms
may be active.
Earlier work by Media Sciences irradiated two CD-R discs at 5 Mev, one
at 5 kGy and one at 10 kGy. Polycarbonate discoloration was not
observed, but the modest increase in error rates was about the same as
our reported results at 10 Mev and 40 kGy.
Thanks to Ed for his enlightening input.
> As usual, Jerry Hartke of Media Sciences, Inc. has been doing his
> homework, and we appreciate his willingness to share the benefits of
> us. I have no doubt that the results of his tests were as he reported
> to be. Of course, in an ideal world we would not have to deal with
> variables. But his controlled test (and we do not know what prompted
> USPS or the equipment manufacturer to specify the particular intensity
> setting for the sinle test) may not have been representative of all
> irradiation equipments used, nor of the intensity settings used since
> treatment began by their various operators, nor does it show whether
> accumulative effect is possible when mail passes through such a system
> than once. In addition, there may be others, not affiliated with the
> who are using such equipment to clean mail, and we don't know under
> conditions they work, or whether their effort is applied instead of or
> addition to the USPS treatment. Therefore, to state that this
> safe, because recent tests show that it was safe, may not be
> of all the risks that media may encounter everywhere and at any time
> irradiation is or has been applied, and after treatment by any of the
> systems used for this purpose. Lacking a statement from the USPS that
> have decided to use only one uniform intensity setting for all their
> irradiation systems used everywhere, and for anyone else using such
> we should not blindly trust one set of tests that indicate safe
> were used for those tests. We did not get the whole story yet, the
> not confirm that this setting will be used everywhere, and that only
> equipment will be used. They have not taken ownership of other 'media
> toaster' settings, nor have they committed themselves never to use
> We had a discussion on this subject on the AMIA Listserv in the middle
> March this year. A valuable reference I noted was:
> http://www.si.edu/scmre/mail_irradiation.html We concluded from the
> available evidence that we should be very cautious if media (and many
> vulnerable materials) has to pass through US mail irradiation systems
> label it with a warning against such irradiation, or to run no risk at
> not to use the USPS for such enclosures and send those by courier
> when assured that they will not irradiate such mail.
> The recent tests Jerry did have the benefit of being done after the
> gained valuable experience, and of course do not prove that their
> irradiation has been safe from the beginning, which it evidently was
> Nor does it demonstrate that all operators have agreed to use the
> setting and only the equipment which was used for Jerry's test. Peter
> Brothers was not dreaming, his information was based on real
> reported by real people. We had a recent posting from Charles Repca
> reported on this listserv that he had: "received a number of
> CD here in our office that had been run through a sterilization
> discs heavily discolored and warped beyond recognition."
> On March 22, 2002, Barbara Jeanne Humphrys of the Library of Congress
> me an email after we discussed the issue on the AMIA-L, with a March
> photograph entitled "CD toast", she wrote: "Thanks for your
> post. I thought you might be interested in seeing the effects of
> on a CD sent to the Library of Congress for copyright registration. On
> 4, LC began to distribute mail it had been receiving, irradiating, and
> sorting since October 17. The attached image was published last week
> employee newsletter, The Gazette (March 15, 2002)". This is the
> accompanying the image: "This CD submitted to the Copyright Office for
> copyright registration did not survive irradiation treatment of
> in November. Subjected to high heat, the plastic case melted and fused
> the disc. Copyright employees are trying to salvage materials
> copyright applications, but some like this one will have to be
> Photo by Gail Fineberg".
> Barbara made a note: "I believe that the radiation level has been
> since then. So far, only USPS mail and "flats" are undergoing this
> I would like to thank Jerry for this service to this community to
> provide us
> real test data for a change when the rest of the stakeholders remain
> dark. And to Peter Brothers for his spirit of wanting to help avoid
> disastrous loss of audio-visual productions by warning us of risks. I
> that this perspective will also be helpful in the interpretation of
> test results and in determining the applicability of their outcome.
> Best regards,
> Ed H. Zwaneveld,
> Technological Research and Development,
> National Film Board of Canada
> May 6, 2002
> -----Original Message-----
> From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com]
> Sent: Saturday, May 04, 2002 11:38 AM
> To: AV Media Matters
> Subject: Re: [AV Media Matters] New Test Results
> Results we reported for CD discs were based on tests conducted in
> coordination with the USPS and with one of the companies that
> mail under contract to the USPS. Electron beam energy and dose were
> comparable to those now in use for that purpose.
> Information from Mr. Brothers is somewhat confusing. It seems to be
> second-hand and third-hand information, and is not confirmed by the
> controlled experiments we just reported. Media Sciences is not aware
> any irradiation of mail that melts package contents, including CD
> and jewel cases? When did this irradiation occur? Was it U.S. mail or
> did it go through a different postal system?
> J. Hartke
> Peter Brothers wrote:
> > Tape, as well as discs are being damaged by the irradiation now
> > used
> > on mail.
> > After giving a presentation at the National Archives in DC on
> > recovery of magnetic tapes, I was approached by a government
> > who
> > asked if irradiation is likely to damage magnetic tape. I mentally
> > reviewed
> > the studies that have been done by various agencies and industries
> > the
> > years and answered, as most experts would, "No, irradiation is not
> > likely to
> > seriously damage magnetic tape". And, unless someone does something
> > that
> > most experts wouldn't consider because it is obviously ridiculous,
> > answer was correct.
> > Of course, this government agency had recently received a number of
> > magnetic
> > recordings through the mail that had been melted.
> > It was once safe to take magnetic media through airport security.
> > have
> > now added magnetic wands that can erase media. Irradiation has been
> > used in
> > the past to kill fungus on media. They now irradiate in such a way
> > with
> > such intensities that it melts the media. Another method rumored to
> > under consideration for treating media, on site, that is suspected
> > anthrax contamination is a 50% chlorine solution. I'm no
> > microbiologist, so
> > I can't fairly evaluate if this would kill the spores. I do know of
> > number of media, however, that don't stand a chance of surviving the
> > treatment.
> > So, yes, there are a number of instances where media has actually
> > melted by the irradiation now being used on letters and envelopes.
> > Strangely enough, unless they have changed the policy recently, they
> > only irradiating envelopes- not boxes. Go figure. I guess they
> > anthrax spores don't like boxes. Until they change the policy, you
> > might
> > want to consider shipping all your media in boxes. It may be more
> > expensive
> > for single units but it's a real pain trying to play back melted
> > or
> > discs.
> > Peter Brothers
> > SPECS BROS., LLC
> > Tape and Disc Disaster Recovery
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Charles Repka [mailto:Charles.P.Repka@abc.com]
> > Sent: Friday, May 03, 2002 8:46 AM
> > To: AV Media Matters
> > Subject: RE: [AV Media Matters] New Test Results
> > But the heat generated by other sterilization processes will
> > fry
> > the discs. We have received a number of (promotional) CD here in
> > office
> > that had been run through a sterilization process. The discs
> > discolored and warped beyond recognition.
> > Charles Repka
> > >
> > >
> > > Tests conducted by Media Sciences in early 2002 on CD-ROM discs,
> > > recorded CD-R discs, and unrecorded CD-R discs indicate that
> > > beam irradiation of the type used to sterilize U.S. mail does
> > > not impair
> > > media interchange. See http://www.mscience.com/faq29.html.
> > >
> > > Regards,
> > > J. Hartke
> > > Media Sciences, Inc.
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