Handling Powdery Substances

A large number of potentially suspicious letters and packages continue to be reported to federal, state and local law enforcement and emergency response agencies nationwide. In some instances these letters or packages may include powders, liquids or other materials.

If you open an envelope or package and you observe some type of powder or powder spills out, REMAIN CALM:

  • Do not clean up any powder and avoid further contact.
  • Move away from the envelope or package and inform others in your office to leave the area. Do not walk around the office to show other people nor invite co-workers to come in and look.
  • If your clothes are contaminated, do not brush vigorously as this action may disperse the powder into the air. Remain in place and wait for further instructions from emergency responders.
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose, mouth or any other part of your body.
  • Close off the room including any doors or windows. If possible close down the building’s heating/air conditioning/ventilation system.
  • If possible and without contaminating large areas wash your hands with soap and water or use a hand-sanitizing gel or wipe to clean up.
  • Call 911 to report the incident and inform the emergency dispatcher what steps you have taken. Remain nearby to assist emergency responders.
  • Make a list of all people who had actual contact with the powder or were in the area of a release of powder.