A false alarm sounded at the Kornberg Medical Research Building at the UR Medical Center Tuesday when an employee said she saw a puff of an unidentified dust-like substance.

The envelope was found not to be a health hazard, but not before the evacuation of 30 staff members from the ground floor of Kornberg and a telephone consultation with the FBI.

The envelope came in addressed to a researcher who no longer worked at the medical center, said Director of Public Relations and Communication Teri D?Agostino. The employee was folding it to put it into another envelope to forward it, when she noticed the substance.

The employee knew what to do, D?Agostino said. ?There is a standing procedure that we?ve had in place long before Sept. 11 as far as what an emergency response should be in terms of hazardous materials,? she said.

D?Agostino added that there has been a heightened sense of awareness of hazardous materials in the past few weeks. ?I think that?s true for the University and the medical center, as well as for the community as a whole,? she said.

A Florida man died of anthrax last week and a co-worker was also infected. Authorities have said that there?s no evidence of a criminal or terrorist act, but there?s also no reason to believe the anthrax was naturally occurring.

D?Agostino said that the medical center is not like all workplaces. ?Because of the nature of the work that gets done here, the staff have been educated in emergency procedures,? she said. ?We?re maybe a little unique as a workplace.?

Bock can be reached at dbock@campustimes.org.

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