Anthrax & Printing: GATF and /PIA to Help Calm Newfound Fears

PITTSBURGH, PA, USA—Though Halloween is almost a month behind us, we in the US still are getting our share of "scares." Anthrax carries on its grisly spectacle, and despite a drop in newly reported anthrax cases over the last few weeks, terrorism, especially bio-terrorism, continues to weigh heavily on our collective conscious.

From developments in antimicrobial agents to "see-through" packaging components, the converting and printing industries will march forward and once again take up the vanguard for product safety and security. On Tuesday, November 27, 2001 (2:30 to 4:00 pm EST), the Graphic Art Technical Foundation (GATF) and the Printing Industries of America (PIA) will host "Anthrax and the Printing Industry Audio Conference," available to GATF and PIA members and the media for $69 per site. According to GATF/PIA, the 90-minute session will address recent reports about 'anti-setoff power' (used in some printing methodologies) and its recent mistaken identification as anthrax.

States the organizations' joint site on GAIN (Graphic Arts Information Network): "As reported in the Wall Street Journal on October 31, 2001, and scores of mainstream media outlets since, residue of 'anti-setoff power' long used in the printing process now is being mistaken for the highly publicized 'white powder' found in several letters containing anthrax spores. In response to this confusion and growing anxiety, GATF and PIA have taken steps to help printers educate their clients and reduce fears."

"Printers of course know the powder used as anti-setoff is a proven technology necessary to the process and has been used safely since Benjamin Franklin was a printer," says Frank Scott, GATF's VP of research. "Now they need to convey the safety, normalcy, and necessity of this residue to their clients," he adds.

GATF/PIA reports the conference will be hosted by Gary Jones, author of The Anthrax Resource Guide for Printers (click here for GATF/PIA's actions, suggestions, and resources on anthrax), and will feature speakers from the US Postal Service, a leading printer, and a direct mail client.

While GATF's technical experts advise the industry, say the organizations, PIA's legislative team is working with the US Postal Service (through the Mailers Technical Advisory Committee) to take steps necessary to reassure the public about the safety of the mail. "The Postal Service has handled billions of pieces of mail without incident, even while it has had to respond quickly to the threats," states PIA executive VP for public affairs Ben Cooper. "It's important for citizens to realize the mail system is safe. While we join the Postal Service in encouraging people to be observant for unusual items in the mail or elsewhere, business and advertising mail as well as periodicals are very safe."

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