Securing mailrooms first step in protecting businesses against anthrax

Despite “white powder” scares against government and corporate offices becoming commonplace, they must be taken seriously, which starts in the mailroom.

It has become almost a daily occurrence that somewhere in the United States an office will receive a letter containing an unknown and suspicious white powder, reports. While chances are that such letters are hoaxes, the 2001 anthrax attacks demonstrated the need to take proper precautions.

Experts say that investing in proper mailroom security is a necessity that corporations and other offices should not do without.

"There is an expense (to secure the mailroom), but when you compare that expense against the cost of an is negligible," Rich Coakley told

Coakley is the director of solutions development for Pitney Bowes Management Services, a company that provides mailroom screening services in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Ronald Heil, the vice president and senior security consultant for TransSystems, a security consulting firm, provided with some basic recommendations to secure mailrooms. He says that, when possible, a company on a corporate campus should locate its mailroom away from other buildings. If the company is located in a high-rise building, it should keep the mailroom on the ground floor, preferably on an outside wall.

It is also crucial that proper safeguards should be in place in the heating and cooling systems, as biological and chemical agents can spread rapidly.

An organization’s communication systems can also play a vital role. "When one (branch or office) receives (a mail threat), the best course is to communicate it more broadly with others that you know and trust because very rarely do these things travel as a single envelope," Coakley told biological.