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Environment, Health, & Safety Division

Security Update

Mail Handling:
General Administrative Memo

October 17, 2001
Posted On Behalf Of: Sally Benson
To: All Employees

Due to recent events, we are issuing guidance on handling mail that may contain chemical or biological material. These precautions are prudent, but understand that the risk of contracting any disease has proven extremely low and, in general, personal protective equipment is unnecessary.

Precautions for those who routinely sort, handle, or distribute mail:

  1. Wash your hands with warm soap and water before and after handling the mail, and do not eat or drink around mail.
  2. If you have open cuts or skin lesions on your hands, wear disposable latex latex gloves.

Precautions for those who open mail: If you receive suspicious mail, do not open it and immediately call 7911. Characteristics of suspicious mail:

  • Lack of a return address, or a suspicious return address
  • Excessive postage
  • Misspelled words
  • Protruding wires
  • Strange odor
  • Oily stains or discoloration on the outer envelope or wrapper
  • Excessive Tape or String

If you have opened a letter or package that you believe contains biological or chemical material, don't panic. Follow these three steps:

  • Set the letter or package down and do not handle it further.
  • Immediately call 7911
  • If you have immediate access to a sink, wash your hands with warm water and soap for one minute. Otherwise, stay where you are and wait for emergency responders.

This communication discusses common sense safety developed jointly by health professionals, the FBI, and the California Governor's Office. A California Highway Patrol Video on Biological Threat Safety may be helpful in understanding the threat of anthrax. See the CHP web page.

In all cases in which you are in doubt, call X7911. For non-emergency questions, contact Dan Lunsford, Security Manager, at X6016