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For broadcast on CBS Radio Network stations 
January 26-27, 2002:

Microwaved Mail

The Stamp Collecting Report, I'm Lloyd de Vries.

The irradiation process the Postal Service is using to make 
sure mail is anthrax-free has a side effect: It changes some 
of the materials passed through it.

Some mail, early in the processing, caught fire and was 
destroyed. That was blamed on the contents of some of the 
envelopes, but there have been no reports of it since, making 
me wonder if it wasn't the settings on the equipment.

Many items, however, change color -- the paper reacts with the 

And it's not just stamps, but other paper and plastic 
collectibles that are affected, as well as audio and 
videocassettes, film, medicine, and more -- the sort of things 
you'd send to a friend or relative.

Collectibles are sold by small businesses and most of them 
depend on mail order sales. Insurance doesn't replace a rarity, 
it just pays for it.

Would you put something worth hundreds of dollars in the 
microwave? Of course not. But the next time you have to mail a may need to use another delivery service.

And that's stamp collecting this week. 

I'm Lloyd de Vries, CBS News.

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