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White powder found at MIT being checked

On Tuesday morning, a lecturer in the foreign languages and literatures section was exposed to a white powder after opening a piece of mail in his office on the third floor of Building 14.

He called Campus Police, who responded immediately, together with the Biosafety Office and the Cambridge Fire Department's Hazardous Materials Team.

The individual and two others in the area were checked by MIT Medical staff and decontaminated. The office has been sealed off and steps have been taken to decontaminate the office and other areas of the building.

The powder, measuring less than a teaspoon, was collected by the Hazardous Materials Team and is being delivered to a state laboratory for testing. Initial results should be available within a day.

In the meantime, refer to the advisory on mail handling from MIT Director of Public Safety Anne P. Glavin. The online advisory includes a link to a US Postal Service article, "What To Do if You Receive an Anthrax Threat."

The MIT mail advisory is being distributed to the distributed mail centers for pickup by individual offices. Free disposable gloves are available in Room 56-070 for anyone who wishes to use them for mail handling.

The incident remains under investigation. Check the MIT home page and the News Office web site for updates.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 17, 2001.

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