GAINSEVILLE, FL; CHENEY, WA — As anthrax fears increase, researchers are developing systems that can detect or destroy airborne anthrax as well as other pathogenic microbes. These systems could eventually be installed in commercial and government buildings to protect occupants.

According to an engineering professor at the University of Florida, an indoor air-cleaning system has been developed to zap dust mites and mold spores, but the system can also eliminate anthrax. This particular system was tested by using a similar bacteria to anthrax, and was successful in eliminating it. According to the university, these systems could be installed quickly and inexpensively in office and home hvac systems.

“There are other technologies for air cleaning, but for air disinfection, there is no more effective system,” said Yogi Goswami, University of Florida mechanical engineering professor.

Moreover, Dr. Jeanne Small, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Eastern Washington University, is developing a prototype system that would sound an alarm when anthrax and other airborne microbes are detected in the air. The detector continuously samples the air and offers and analysis in less than 30 min.

Small was able to use lasers and acoustic sensors to detect and identify microbes.

Publication date: 11/12/2001