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Electron Beam to Fight Infections
May 27, 2011 15:59

When we hear the word “radiation”, we are often scared, because of atomic bombs and Fukushima nuclear power plant.

People should not worry – small radiation doses can make bodies transparent in order to find ailing parts, as well as search for dangerous objects in luggage and heal malignant tumors. Russian physicists suggest using accelerated electrons to sterilize medical equipment, for instance.

Researchers known that a beam of accelerated electrons can cause various chemical reactions in matter, thus resulting in required properties. This process doesn’t have any residual radiation, thus being completely harmless for human beings. Electron beams accelerators are used all over the world for various industrial purposes, including neutralization of hazardous wastes and treatment of a variety of materials – something between medical instruments and food products.

Among other fields of using accelerated electrons there is one field, which is not explored enough. This field is sterilization and pasteurization, in other words, destruction of DNA in harmful and pathogenic microorganisms. When an electron accelerator is used for sterilization, electrons reach speed of light with energies of 2.5-10 million electron volts and as powerful as 1-100 kilowatts. Main advantage of this technique over other sterilization methods is that electrons can penetrate closed boxes, thus treating things without taking them out of their containers and individual packages.



How DNA gets damaged
Results are impressive, since the technique provides sterility level of 10-6, which means only 1 colony of microorganisms can be found in 1 000 000 treated items with storage room being as dusty as a desert during a dust storm. Electron beam can interact with microorganisms via two ways – first ways is affecting DNA directly by ionizing its atoms, and the second ways is forming free radicals , which damage cells of microbes, scientists explain.

The Institute of Nuclear Physics (Siberian branch of Russian academy of sciences) doesn’t wait for the government to fund its work – its fellows have built an electron accelerator, which provides sterilization services for small businesses of Siberia. This helps start local production of non-reusable medical clothes and equipment, thus squeezing Chinese products out of the market. One sterilization centre with an electron accelerator can sterilize up to 10 tons of various items per hour, and it is a good way to become independent of foreign products.

The market of non reusable medical goods in Russia is worth billions of rubles. That is why the problem of their reasonably priced sterilization cannot remain unnoticed. Each region needs at least one sterilization centre for medical goods and equipment, scientists believe, because thousand tons of goods need to be sterilized before use.

As for the current year, the Institute of Nuclear Physics plans to produce radiation-sterilization facilities for Kazakhstan’s Park of Nuclear Technologies, Moscow and



Source: Science & Technologies

Kizilova Anna

Author: Anna Kizilova

Tags: physics technology health Russian medicine  

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