White powder in New Zealand mail incident not hazardous

A white powder found in the mail at a west Auckland, New Zealand, postal delivery branch was not hazardous, according to local officials.

Approximately two teaspoons of the mysterious substance were found in the mail on Thursday morning at the New Lynn delivery branch of New Zealand Post. A fire service spokesman said the powder was later identified as non-hazardous, NZ Newswire reports.

The building was evacuated after the discovery of the powder and the room was then isolated. The army, police and ambulance services were called to the scene. Ambulance staff evaluated four people who were potentially exposed to the powder, Radio New Zealand reports.

Jason Phillips, a fire service spokesman, said that Army explosives experts were able to identify the powder as non-toxic on the scene, but at the time they were unable to determine what it actually was.

The building was later declared safe and all employees returned to work.

Anthrax was used as a weapon in the United States in 2001 when it was deliberately spread through the postal system in a mixture of white powder. Anthrax is caused by the spore-forming Bacillus anthracis bacterium which can be deadly if touched, inhaled or digested.