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Cleaning up anthrax

Chemists have developed a new technology that could quickly and inexpensively destroy anthrax spores in terrorist-contaminated buildings and on troops in the field.

Oxidizing agents, such as peroxides, can destroy cells, including bacterial spores, but they work slowly. To dramatically rev up the chemicals' activity, Colin Horwitz and his colleagues at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh created nontoxic catalysts composed of iron and chemical structures known as tetra-amido macrocyclic ligands.

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