The University Record, October 22, 2001

Letter issued regarding suspicious mail

Editor’s Note: The following letter was sent to the campus community on Oct 17 .

We have heard or read recently many news reports regarding persons becoming exposed to or infected with anthrax. We also have heard of numerous reports of suspicious packages, envelopes and white powdery substances that have been investigated. Thus far, the incident investigations at the University of Michigan and throughout the state of Michigan have not detected any hazardous biological or chemical substances.

Our Michigan Department of Community Health has instructed us that it is important for citizens to proceed with reasonable precautions but not to panic when opening mail and packages. Anthrax exposure through the mail is extremely unlikely and symptoms of anthrax do not develop in a matter of hours.

Despite the low risk of harm to our campus community, please be aware that the responders at the Department of Public Safety (DPS) and Occupational Safety and Environmental Health (OSEH) take these situations very seriously. We will investigate each report very thoroughly and coordinate our efforts with other local or federal law enforcement officials, as appropriate.

We urge all U-M employees to be alert when opening mail and packages. Safety tips and procedures for handling suspicious mail have been distributed to all campus units and are available on the DPS Web site,

If you receive a suspicious package, do not open it. Immediately call DPS at 911 from a campus telephone. If you are calling from campus on a cell phone, alert the communication officer that you are at the U-M so they can route your call to DPS.

All faculty, staff and students who are working in or near research laboratories should review procedures for storing all chemical and biological agents. Please be diligent in your efforts to help maintain

a safe and secure research environment. If you have any questions about lab safety, please review the OSEH web site at

or call OSEH at 647-1143.

If you notice a suspicious person or activity occurring on campus or have questions about personal safety and security issues, please contact DPS at 763-1131.

We must remain calm and vigilant during these trying times. Hazardous material hoaxes, harassing e-mails, graffiti and rumor spreading are not helpful to our community and are criminal actions that distract our emergency responders from true emergencies. We strongly urge everyone to use care, caution, common sense and control when dealing with these situations.

We in the campus community must work together to ensure a safe and secure environment for our students, faculty, staff and visitors. We appreciate your assistance with this effort.

—Terry Alexander director of OSEH

—Bill Bess, director of DPS