Cheat-Seeking Missles

Monday, November 20, 2006

Just Breathe The Anthrax

As you all recall, one week after 9/11 came the anthrax scare -- seven letters, five to the media and one each to Sens. Daschle and Leahy, and five more dead Americans.

Now, you'll be happy to hear, there are two ready fixes to the anthrax problem. And I don't mean wiping Al Qaeda off the face of the earth; these are easier than those.

The first, according to a column by Steve Maggi at the American Conservative Union Foundation, involves bleaching everything that may have come in contact with the anthrax -- paper, desks, vents, computers. As you can imagine, it's a costly fix.

The second solution costs pennies to bleach's dollar. It's the ag chemical methyl bromide, and a bit of it released into a contaminated building will kill all the anthrax pronto.

There's just one little problem. The U.N.

Methyl bromide has been declared chemical non grata by the global bureaucrats because it's an ozone depleter. Maggi writes:

Under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, which took effect in 1989, the United Nations is charged with eliminating chemicals that damage the earth’s ozone layer. Among the chemicals that are being eliminated are CFCs (Chloroflorocarbons) which are used in everything from refrigerators to asthma inhalers. Methyl Bromide is another one of these chemicals.

The chemicals that are replacing these, are much more costly, toxic, and in many cases, untested. This becomes a simple case of priorities….what is more important? Keeping a safe chemical that kills deadly Anthrax? Or is it better to fully capitulate to a United Nations mandate that makes little impact while forcing America to give up an effective tool in the war on terror?

On this year's International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer -- ironically, that's Sept. 16, the probable date the first anthrax letters were mailed -- Kofi Annan said not enough progress had been made:

I, therefore, urge all countries to reaffirm their commitment to implementation. The work is still unfinished, and it is only through persistent dedication over the course of this century that our generation and future generations will realize the benefits of full ozone layer recovery.

The Montreal Protocol was updated this year, and US EPA got approval for some methyl bromide use for ag operations where no alternative is available. No mention was made of homeland security uses.

As part of the update reporting, EPA said meythl bromide inventories in the U.S. have fallen from approximately 16,422 metric tons in 2003 to 9,975 metric tons last year, and the country is committed to further reductions.

The next update won't occur until 2010. Should we wait until then to begin stockpiling methyl bromide at fire stations around the country? I think not.

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